12 Hours in Wellington: Culture and Commerce in the Capital of Cool


Wellington: famed for its sandy beaches, colourful timber houses and historic cable cars. Perched on the southernmost tip of NZ’s North Island, Wellington could well be the most unique capital city in the world — thanks in part to its lurid heritage, unhurried character and relatively small size.

Far removed from the bustle of NZ’s second-city, Auckland, Wellington has retained a charm and charisma quite unlike any other city on Earth. But that’s not to say it’s sleepy or dull — far from it, in fact. Like Melbourne in Oz, Wellington has a cultivated a reputation for impeccable nightlife, and is home to some of the best pubs, restaurants and eateries in the country.

Paying a visit to NZ’s capital on your next cruise? Here’s a guide on how best to spend your time, including things to see, what to do and where to eat.



360° Panorama from Mount Victoria

If you’re in need of a good view, there’s no better place than the Mount Victoria lookout. Overlooking the city in its entirety, Mount Victoria is a big old hill offering first class views of Wellington from its suburbs to its harbour. Those feeling fit can reach the top on foot, but we’d recommend taking public transport to save those legs. 

The Waterfront 

While there’s plenty of waterside cities in New Zealand, none pack quite as pleasing an aesthetic punch as Wellington’s waterfront. With sandy beaches to the left, skyscrapers to the right, and mountains rising in the background, this is the perfect place to stretch your legs after being cooped up aboard your ship.

Cuba Street

Introducing Cuba Street: without question the coolest thoroughfare in NZ. Packed with cafes, bars and boutiques, this tiled boulevard is the best place to go if you want to make like a local during your visit to the capital. Local performers regularly put on free shows in the middle of this eclectic street, so it’s a great place to sit and enjoy an al fresco cup of Joe.



Unearth NZ’s Past at Te Papa

Te Papa, or the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa as it’s officially known, is the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand. Instantly recognisable thanks to its vibrant exterior, this colossal visitor centre houses many of the country’s most valuable historic artefacts and works of art.

Ride the Wellington Cable Car 

Gracing many a New Zealand postcard, Wellington’s historic cable car has been traversing the city’s steep hills for decades, and has now become symbolic of the capital. Consisting of two original cars, the cable car rises 120m and covers 612m — providing a quick way for tourists to reach the top of Mount Victoria.

Meet the Critters at Wellington Zoo

While New Zealand has no native mammal life, it does have one of the world’s best zoos — Wellington Zoo. Now over 100 years old, this world famous zoo houses over one hundred different species from across the globe — from the endangered sun bear to the beautiful Sumatran tiger.



Ortega Fish Shack 

If there’s one thing Wellington does well, it’s seafood. Throughout the city there exists a handful of superb restaurants serving some of the world’s freshest, tastiest fish. One of our favourite seafood specialists is the Ortega Fish Shack — a humble eatery whose freshly caught dishes have been wooing diners for just shy of a decade. 

Hawthorn Lounge

If you like your restaurants dimly lit and romantic, look no further than the Hawthorn Lounge, a bar-come-restaurant in the centre of town. With an eclectic menu of carefully prepared dishes and a ponderous cocktail selection to boot, Hawthorn is the perfect for those not wanting to eat and run.

Maranui Surf Lifesaving Café

Benefitting from a prime spot on Wellington’s aforementioned waterfront, the Maranui Surf Lifesaving Café is great for light bites and a much-needed cup of coffee. The café plays host to an ever-changing menu of simple, home-cooked dishes, and we hear their handmade scones are particularly tasty.

Interested in visiting New Zealand’s capital city on your next cruise break? Then visit the Cruise1st Australia homepage, and use the search box on the left to select Wellington as your preferred destination. Should you require further help in finding the perfect New Zealand cruise break for you, please don’t hesitate to call us on 1300 857 345.

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: fotorus, Tim Riley, memorius, chrisjtse


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