New Zealand – Wowed in Wellington

I arrived in Wellington after an overnight trip with Naked Bus. It cost me $25NZD to get from Auckland to Wellington. I genuinely can’t fault Naked bus service or value.

I am fortunate enough to have family in Wellington so was greeted warmly at the bus stop and whisked away in a car. I did circumnavigate Wellington using public transport and found buses, trains and the cable car reliable and regular. The snapper card system is in use on busses but paying the driver is a very viable option too.

Wellington’s architecture is an interesting mix of awful and beautiful. There seems to be no happy medium. One of the buildings I thought was stunning is the old parliamentary building seen here.

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The new parliament building is hideous and resembles an air filter you might find in a bagless vacuum cleaner. You can see the very edge of it creeping into the left of the photo above but I’m not posting a picture of it because it offends me.

There’s plenty to see in Wellington. The streets are littered with sculptures, art works and intriguing buildings. Something to do which I cannot recommend highly enough is Zealandia.

Zealandia is an area of the City which has been fenced off for preservation. This means all introduced predators have been removed in order to reintroduce native species. It’s a really beautiful area and worth the entrance fee as you have the opportunity to see New Zealand nature as it was before settlers.

The animals range from feathered and noisy to scaled and silent. One of the scaled and silent types is the Tuatara.

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The Takahē is a flightless bird which was critically endangered a few years ago. Zealandia had a successful breeding pair who are contributing to the repopulation effort.

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Another native at Zealandia is the Tui. It has a distinctive white feather tuft on its chest and has an interesting song.

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Most New Zealand birds are muted as far as colouration goes. Take the Kaka, a native parrot. It’s colours are nothing like the vivid birds of Australia. The kaka has much more subtle brown and red tones.

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Zealandia really is a wonder to walk around and so close to the city that you simply have to go. There’s even a free shuttle bus that departs from the cable car terminal. No excuses.

New Zealand is famous for being the location for Lord of the Rings and Wellington is the home of Peter Jackson’s film studios. This means that much of the filming was in and around Wellington. I took the ultimate, full day tour with Wellington Movie Tours (www.movietours.co.nz). It took me to Helms Deep, the gardens of Isengard, Hobbiton woods, the production studios, Rivendell and the WETA cave workshop.

At Rivendell, you can compare heights with this handy post. I’m Gandalf amounts of tall.

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The whole day tour includes a sandwich lunch, collection from/return to city accommodation and all aspects of your tour. The tours use a mixture of movie clips and pictures on location so you really get a feel for what you’re looking at. There was also instances of posing and dressing up. It really was amazing fun and I’d recommend Wellington Movie Tours to anyone.

An extra I paid for was the ‘window into workshop’ tour at the WETA cave but before I gush about that, this is what greets you outside of the WETA cave.

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Anyway, the window into workshop tour is basically a treasure trove of WETA work. It’s not just Lord of the Rings in there; it’s District 9, The Chronicles of Narnia, Halo and a wealth of other interesting creatures and props. We were guided around by a bonafide painter who works there. He explained the processes involved in designing and producing props. It was incredible. If you’re a movie geek with an interest in special effects and props, pay the extra $20 and do the tour. You will be delighted.

During the day we also found a real New Zealand silver fern. Green on the top side, silver on the bottom.

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The day finished with us watching the sun set behind the south island. Beautiful.

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I visited the national museum of Te Papa too. It’s free to get into and had some interesting exhibits. I found the most informative to be the earthquake section. I really didn’t know much about fault lines, earthquakes or after shocks before visiting Te Papa and now I do. There’s an earthquake experience which gives you an idea of what an aftershock feels like. It really is very well done. The museum as a whole is very good and you should visit if you can.

One day, I took a train up the cost and explored an area called Paraparaumu. The train journey itself is scenic and enjoyable. Once in Paraparaumu, I walked the cost from Raumati beach to Paraparaumu beach. On the walk, you get great views of Kapati island. Very pretty!

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It’s a very lovely area of coast and well worth a trip on a good day. The beaches are clean and the cafés plentiful so you can relax with beauty surrounding you.

My time in Wellington flew by. Before I knew it, I was heading back to Auckland for my flight to Australia. I was utterly spoiled and taken care of in Wellington and it left me raring for more Aussie adventures.

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