Insiders view on Wellington

The Wanderers in conversation with Jo Heaton

Everything the guide books or tourism websites won’t tell you about the place.

One little known fact/trivia that everyone should know about when travelling to WELLINGTON?

Wellington has lots of quirky features to look out for including the private cable cars that take people up to their houses.  And for Indian travelers, I have to mention the Basin Reserve Cricket Ground which forms one of the world’s largest traffic roundabouts!

What is a must buy when in WELLINGTON?

Tough question!  Wellington’s boutique fashion stores are great and if you’re visiting in spring or autumn, Icebreaker merino clothing will be perfect for layering.  Whittakers chocolate is made locally and available everywhere.

One take-away after a visit to WELLINGTON?

The most common feedback I hear is ‘I wish I’d known – we would have stayed longer’.  So now you know – book a minimum two-night stay before sailing away on the ferry to the South Island.

 What is your advice to first time travellers?

Because Wellington is so compact, you can see and do a lot in a day.  I like to call Te Papa the museum for people who don’t like museums.  It’s all about hands-on interactivity, using lots of technology and the best thing is … it’s free!  Then take a short walk through downtown takes you to the historic Wellington Cable Car.  This will whisk you up the hill in just five minutes to the Botanic Gardens.  If you’re travelling with children, stop in at Carter Observatory.  And if you want to learn why your country got elephants, tigers and snakes and New Zealand got no mammals at all, take the free shuttle from the top of the Cable Car to Zealandia, one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects.  If you’re short on time, this is my perfect Wellington day.

One thing to definitely pack when travelling to WELLINGTON

Gollum at the Wellington Airport

Pack comfortable shoes – you can walk from Parliament Buildings at one end of town, to the Courtenay Place entertainment district at the other, in under half an hour.

One activity anyone travelling to WELLINGTON should not miss.

For the adventure-seeking, a half day quad-biking trip is a must do.  Start off down on the beach and power up into the mountains for views back to the city, harbour and as far as the South Island.  Adventure and 100% Pure New Zealand scenery wrapped up together!

Where should anyone, travelling to WELLINGTON, definitely get their picture taken?

You’ll get great shots from the top of the Cable Car.  (This is how I go home at night!)

Which is the best place to get a panoramic photo?

Mount Victoria gives you great views over the city and harbor.

Best place to enjoy sunset/sunrise?

Oriental Bay beach for sunrise, and the beanbags outside Shed 5 Bar and Restaurant with a cocktail in hand at sunset.

Most romantic place to take a special someone to.

Solace in the Wind is a beautiful bronze sculpture on the waterfront near Te Papa.  The location had been somewhere for the artist to reflect upon life during difficult times – a place of solace.  It’s Wellingtonians’ favourite sculpture.

Best place to have local food?

I’m a big fan of the seafood from Ortega’s Fish Shack, the eight-hour roasted lamb at Duke Carvall’s and whatever’s in season at Floriditas.

 Your favorite local dish and drink that you would recommend.

New Zealand’s ‘culinary capital’ is said to have more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York.  Start like the locals with a ‘flat white’ coffee in the morning.

One place only the locals would know.

There’s a lot of tucked away bars and clubs – Library Bar in Courtenay Place (up the stairs next to Burger King) is a long time favourite.  HashigoZake and Goldings Free Dive Beer Bars are fun too – ask a local for directions!

The best pub and best place to catch up for a drink

Hawthorn Lounge

How about a palate cleansing beer from one of the dozen or so craft brewers around the city?  A tasting tray from the Fork & Brewer means sampling four small glasses from local brewers like Tuatara, Garage Project and Parrot Dog.

A local festival you feel more travellers should come and see

You won’t see anything like the World of Wearable Art Awards anywhere else in the world.  It’s a mix of design, theatre – think John Paul Gualtier meets Cirque de Soleil.  Hard to describe, but a must see if you’re in Wellington during the three week show in late September.

The things guide books will not tell anyone about WELLINGTON?

Lots of people know about New Zealand and The Hobbit, but lots of other movies get made in Wellington too, including TinTin, King Kong and Avatar 2&3.  There’s a new 45 minute Weta Cave Workshop Tour.  Your guide will be one of the talented artists working at the home of special effects powerhouse, Weta Workshop.

Is there any particular month you would not recommend travel to WELLINGTON and what would that reason be?

Wellington’s climate doesn’t get very hot in summer or very cool in summer, so it’s always a good time to visit.

In one sentence, WELLINGTON is “the coolest little capital in the world”.  Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel said so, and of course we think they’re right!  

Jo Heaton is the Trade Marketing Manager for Positively Wellington Tourism and she travels extensively for work and pleasure.  Favourite destinations include Etosha NP in Namibia for wildlife,The Loire in France for cycling and anywhere in Italy for food.  She thinks Wellington is the perfect city and could only be improved by the addition of elephants.

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