05 Apr 7 Reasons we Loved Wellington, 3 Reasons we Didn’t
After days on the road, traveling through and around New Zealand’s natural wonders, Welly was a bit of a shock. Known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, we’d heard that this was a place we would love.
Sometimes, when a place’s wrapped around so much hype, it’s hard for it to live up to its expectations.
Although we found that there are aspects that do make this city a really cool one, there are also others that were a bit of a disappointment. We found reasons to love-hate Wellington.
Full disclosure: we were here only for two days. So this is just an opinion based on our time there.
7 Reasons we loved Wellington
1. Ferry Crossing
Though not exactly part of Wellington, the ferry leaves from or arrives at the city, so we’ll just go ahead and include it.
This is arguably one the most scenic and beautiful ferry rides in the world. We traveled with Interislander Ferry which carries both, passengers and vehicles, so we took our little Jucy Cabana with us. Inside the ship you won’t go hungry. Cafeterias, food courts, bars, and vending machines abound. They’ve also got a cinema (at extra cost) but we didn’t try it, and the wifi is an absolute rip off at $4 for 40MB.
But let’s be honest. What makes this trip so special is not the food, and it’s certainly not the wifi. It’s the views. Spectacular scenery, the kind that travel photographers dream of, is present since the moment you board in Picton, till you get off in Wellington (or the other way around).
Cook Straight is known as having some of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world. Luckily, the waters were calm and forgiving the day we crossed it. (One motion-sickness incident per trip is enough, don’t you think?) The wind outside gets a bit annoying, but don’t panic. The ship is lined with windows, so you won’t miss anything, and there’s plenty of space to sit, work, eat, sleep, and read.
Reading with views like this? Yes. Please. Any day.
2. Mt. Victoria Lookout
This was our first stop in the city. Nothing makes you fall head-over-heels in love with a city as fast as looking at its skyline. Drape that skyline between rich green hills, and a glimmering harbor and you’ve got yourself an instant fan. The best place to look at it is, without a doubt, Mt Victoria lookout. You can take the bus, your own car, or walk the whole 196m up to the top of the mountain. We walked so we could have a fabulous excuse to then go stuff our faces in Cuba St. (Pssst. You should do the same.)
3. Cuba St
This street is probably one of the reasons why Welly is known as the coolest little capital in the world. This place’s got soul. It’s alive, it buzzes, it breathes bohemia, and creativity is embedded into every one of its galleries, zany cafés, and alleyway.
We had lunch here at Flying Burrito Brothers and it was amazingly good. It’s not authentic Mexican food, but, let’s be honest- the only place in the world you’ll be able to find real Mexican food is in Mexico- so this was still delicious, in its non-authenticity. Plus, the staff was so friendly we didn’t want to leave.
We also ended up hiding from rain in one of Cuba St’s institutions: Fidel’s. Great for desserts, coffee, and staying dry.
4. Te Papa
Ranked as the ultimate Wellington ‘Must See’ by Lonely Planet, Te Papa Museum doesn’t disappoint. It’s a place you gotta visit while in Wellington if not for its 6 levels of highly interactive and educational exhibitions, then for hiding from the howling wind.
Inside the museum we saw an amazing, yet terrifying scale statue of an Uruk-Hai, an earthquake simulating house, and a colossal squid. It doesn’t get more diverse than that.
5. Wellington’s Cable Car
There’s something special about cable cars. I mean, let’s take a moment here to acknowledge that it was built in 1902. The Wellington Cable Car is a 113 year old dude, and it’s still getting all our lazy assess up to Kelburn. Its clickety-clack up the slope still evokes a feeling from another era, and its vibrant red oozes nostalgia as it makes its way down with the city as backdrop.
6. Wellington Central Library
I’m obsessed with libraries. I’m also obsessed with Young Adult literature. Put an extensive library with a modern design, give it a massive young adult-only section, whip up a cozy café, and place it all in a beautiful civic square. Result: Wellington Central Library, and I’m chaining myself to its doors.
Needless to say, this was one of my favorite places in the city.
Even if you don’t like reading (not judging) (ok, judging only a little) you should still check this place out.
7. Weta Cave
One of the reasons I really wanted to go to Wellington was because of the Lord of the Rings culture rooted in the city’s veins. The mini museum is enough to make fans like me go crazy. Props and collectibles of all kinds, meticulously crafted and in perfect detail are worth the visit alone. We also took the backstage tour of Weta Workshop, which is guided by a crew member. In the hour-long tour, we got to see the talented people behind the movies, hard at work. We got a glimpse into the creative process of props, costumes, and weapons used in the actual movies. For a film fan (not just LOTR), and anyone with a fascination for creativity and design, this tour is goose bump-inducing. At the end, we were attacked by runaway trolls. But don’t worry, we escaped.
3 Reasons we Didn’t Love Wellington
1. The Wind
I know I know. I’m supposed to love Windy Welly. It’s part of its charm and charisma, right? WRONG! The wind does not only destroy hairdos, and make a walk around the harbor a real feat, it’s also impossibly cold. It-should-be-illegal-kind of cold. Jackets and scarfs in summer? It’s simply not okay. For once, Isaac did not roll his eyes at me, and told me I was exaggerating. He had to put on his jacket too. Told you. All wrong.
2. It’s Expensive
New Zealand is expensive, but Wellington is even more. We found that especially the food (although unbelievably good) was also rather pricey. 2 pieces of toast, 3 slices of tomato and avocado, and a little cream cheese cube for $13 New Zealand dollars at Beach Babylon. At least it was good.
3. Lack of New Zealand-ish Vibe
By the time we got to Wellington we were so used to New Zealand’s outdoor, fast, and adrenaline culture, that the slower pace, the lack of adventure and crazy activities kind of bummed us out a bit. Maybe we just needed more time to flip the switch from “rural” to “urban” to be able to enjoy it more.
We realize this was just an introduction to a city that we know is full of surprises. We’ll definitely have to come back.
Have you been to Wellington? What are your resons to love it? To not love it? What did we miss?