IFLY tips Wellington
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Wellington Cable Car (2 hrs)
A great introduction to Wellington for visitors is the Wellington Cable Car. The cars run from the commercial heart of Lambton Quay, tunnel under the corporate towers of The Terrace and emerge in Kelburn. The ride continues past Kelburn Park and Victoria University to the top of the Botanic Garden. It sounds like something really big, but the ride only takes a few minutes.
Once up there, the views from the lookout are very nice. You see the city's central business district, the harbour and the Hutt Valley and Eastbourne. The train runs every 10 minutes and it is open 7 days a week from 7 am to 10 pm. A return ticket costs $7.
Walk Wellington (2 hrs)
Discover the best of Wellington on a guided. Every day at 10 am a 2 hour walking tour departs from I-site, Civic Square.
The walk is through the central city learning about the history and culture of the capital city from local residents. You will visit important historic sights including the Old Government Buildings, Waterfront, Archives, Old St Paul's and Plimmer's Ark. A booking is not required, but if you want to do it, you can do so by e-mail. The tour costs $20.
Mount Vic viewing point (1-2 hrs)
For the best views on Wellington, Wellington Harbour and its surroundings, go to Mount Vic viewing point. Mount Vic as it is called locally is a prominent hill east the centre. From several viewing points you can watch the Cook Strait ferries sail into the harbour and the planes go in and out of the airport.
You can take the public bus to get to Mount Victoria. Stagecoach bus #20 runs from Wellington Station, through Lambton Quay and Courtenay Place. But this service only operates from Monday to Friday.
Best way to go to the viewing point is by car. Drive east of the CBD at Oriental Bay (the scenic route to the airport) and follow the signs Mount Vic. There’s no entrance fee.
Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum (2-3 hrs)
Te Papa is New Zealand's innovative and interactive national museum located on Wellington's beautiful waterfront. 'Te Papa Tongarewa' literally means 'container of treasures'. Discover the treasures and stories from New Zealand's unique natural environment, Maori culture, dynamic art heritage and its fascinating history.
The museum is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm and on Thursdays to 9 pm. The entry is free but you can take an informative one-hour guided tour for $14. Another free extra is their wifi. The museum is located on the waterfront in the CBD at 55 Cable Street. For more information, visit their website.
Sail Wellington Harbour (1 hour)
Wellington’s nickname is Windy Wellington as there’s always a lot of wind blowing around the city. So let’s use this wind and sail Wellington Harbour at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can come down to the Ocean Sports Centre at 115 Oriental Parade and go for a Harbour Sail. Each sail lasts for a little over an hour and depending on the wind will take you to places such as Queen's Wharf, Oriental Parade and Evans Bay.
You don't need any experience, just some warm clothing and a pair of sports shoes. You can make your bookings here and a tour costs $40 per person.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing (2 days)
One of most beautiful trails to walk on the North Island is without a doubt the Tongariri Crossing. This Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park is one of New Zealand's most spectacular tramping tracks, and is considered the most popular one-day tramp in New Zealand.
But you have to start this walk very early morning so you’ll have to be there a day in advance. National Park Village is a 4-hour drive from Wellington travelling by road on State Highway 1 travelling to Waiouru then State Highway 49 and State Highway 4 to National Park Village.
Stay overnight at one of the lodges or backpackers in National Park Village, or behind Ski Haus for powered sites for camper vans. These places can arrange transportation to the start of the walk and they will pick you up at the finish. It's impossible to do this with your own transportation as the finish and start are far away from each other.
The walk is free, however transportation from National Park to the start of the trail will cost approximately $30 per person. The duration of the walk depends on the weather and you own health condition. They say the walk will take you 7 to 8 hours, we did it in 5,5 hours. Bring enough food and drinks, as there’s nothing for sale up there. And bring warm clothes as it can be suddenly cold and windy at the top and for sure bring very good shoes.
At this website you can find more information about Tongariro Crossing, National Park Village, transportation and accommodation.
Wine tour to Martinborough (1-2 days)
Martinborough has become the gourmet capital of the lower North Island. It is home to over 25 boutique vineyards (don't miss Schubert and Ata Rangi), several fabulous restaurants and a number of upmarket bed and breakfast establishments. From the charming town square, you can walk to most of the local attractions.
You can do it as a day trip but best is to stay overnight so you can do more wine tastings and enjoy the village at night. You can do a wine tour by bike as well. Once you arrive go to I-site in the centre to get a map with all the vineyards in the region. And they're all very nearby.
Besides the vineyards there are many beautiful boutiques in the village. If you stay overnight, it is nice to go to the Martinborough Hotel for dinner or Cool Change in the old post office for dinner and a drink at night.
From Wellington you can drive to Martinborough in approximately one hour. This drive is absolutely beautiful and we suggest you do it during daytime. Take State Highway 2 to Masterton and turn right on SHW 53 to Martinborough.
Tour to Napier / Hawke's Bay (2-3 days)
Hawke’s Bay is known for its stunning wines, Art Deco architecture and stylish country living. So you have to go there for unforgettable wine and food experiences. In approximately four hours you can drive from Wellington to Napier.
Hawke’s Bay history abounds with early winemaking successes and continues today with both classic wine styles and experimental varieties new to the region. Red wine production is centred on merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc and malbec. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are the main white varietals.
Of course you have to visit some wineries (don’t forget Mission Estate). More information about Hawkes Bay Region, the wineries and places to stay can be found here. Or you can get a map with all the wineries from the i-sight in Napier, which is located at 100 Marine Parade.
And when you are hungry after touring and tasting many wines, have fish and chips at Hawkes Bay Seafoods, locally known as Snapper Jacks. It’s definitely not a fancy restaurant, but for sure they serve the freshest fish you can get.
Lord of the Rings location tour (½ - 1 day)
When you say New Zealand, you say Lord of the Rings. Wellington Rover Tours offers a half-day or full day location tour. Follow in the Footsteps of Hobbits, Dwarfs, Elves and Men.
The tour covers a lot of ground on the tour, but there is enough time to explore, recreate scenes (over 25 different ones) for yourself and work out how the movies were made.
A half day tour costs $95 per person and a full day tour $170. We advice the half day tour, especially when you are limited in time, as you don’t do just a half day tour, but you get to see the seven best locations.
For more information about the tours or to make a booking, go to their website.
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Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Wellington.