THE WELLINGTON REGION
With its beautifully restored old homes clinging to the hillsides that overlook the city and its harbour, Wellington is packed full of attractions. Down on the waterfront you will find the fascinating Museum of Wellington City and Sea in the magnificent old Harbour Board Bond Store, complete with its opulent 1920s board room and a complete teak cabin from an 1879 steamship. The cities modern architecture complements the cities history, with the bow of the sailing ship Inconstant, which was rediscovered during restoration work on Lambton’s Quay, on display in its original location under a glass floor in the Old Bank Arcade. It is not far to New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa. This futuristic multi-storeyed complex is one of the largest new museums in the world, featuring numerous interactive displays.
Wellington takes pride of place as one of the main entertainment and cultural centres in the country. The city is home to the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, as well as a number of professional theatres and the national opera. You will find some of the countries best theatres, galleries, restaurants, bars and cafes in Wellington. If you want to get outdoors try taking a stroll along Oriental Bay where you can see clusters of both old and new houses in a fascinating range of architectural styles overlooking the sandy beachfront. For the best panoramic views of Wellington City and Port Nicholson all the way across to the Hutt Valley, head up to the lookout on Mt Victoria. The historic cannon on the summit was installed in 1877 and was fired each day as a time signal for many years. Below in the suburbs you will find the New Zealand Cricket Museum located in the Old Grandstand at the Basin Reserve. Its not far to the Colonial Cottage Museum located on the site of one of the original 1840 New Zealand Company Town acres. Wellington’s second oldest building, this restored and fully furnished colonial cottage dates back to 1858 and is typical of the homes in which the early settlers lived.
The old wooden Parliament Buildings with their imposing facades, sweeping staircases, cast iron fireplaces and kauri clad interiors, are one of the largest wooden structures in the world and date back to 1876. It is only a short walk to the distinctive Beehive and the old stone Parliament Buildings. Designed by the renowned British architect Sir Basil Spence, the distinctive circular shaped Beehive housed the executive offices of New Zealand’s Parliament when it was opened in 1980. From the Beehive you can take a walk back south along Lambton Quay into the heart of the Wellington and take a ride on the Kelburn cable car up to the Botanic Gardens. There are a number of other interesting places in the area around the Beehive. The National Library of New Zealand is a treasure trove of information, holding copies of every New Zealand publication. Architecture buffs will love Old St Paul’s which was built as a temporary cathedral for Wellington in 1866. This Gothic-revival style church utilises native timbers, including matai and totara floors, kauri pews, rimu framing and trusses which are illuminated by beautiful natural light that pours in through stained-glass windows, creating a warm, peaceful atmosphere. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote and in the National Archives nearby, you can view the historic 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.