Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini Melbourne, this (self-described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food, and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner-city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.
Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique, fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.
Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two-hour round trip to Martinborough is a must-do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For an educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully-fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Walking Gourmet Food Tour
With your knowledgeable and entertaining Zest Guide, explore Wellington's foodie quarters and some of their favourite food places on this delicious introduction to the culinary capital. Visit a boutique coffee roastery or speciality cafe. Enjoy tastings at Wellington's best specialist food places including trying regional cheeses, honey, chocolates and much more, tasting at every stop. Savour a delicious, light tasting lunch with matched New Zealand wines at a top Wellington restaurant. During the tour, your guide can also introduce you to many other aspects of the Capital, ranging from iconic city architecture, sculptures and fantastic places to shop and eat. Walking time is approximately 90 minutes, all weather, over 5 hours.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Weta Cave Workshop Tour & Miniature Effects Tour
The Weta Cave mini-museum brings you face to face with some of the characters, props and displays from your favourite movies, including The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. Visit Weta Cave Workshop and get up close to the props, weapons and costumes created for The Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, The Great Wall, Avatar, District 9, and more. See artists at work on our tour stage and peek through windows that look directly into the Workshop. Hear stories from the Weta Workshop crew. Many have worked on the films themselves!
Weta Workshop is also known for its extraordinary miniatures and bigatures created for films like The Lord of the Rings, Furious 7, The Legend of Zorro, and Master and Commander. On the Miniatures Stage Tour, you'll visit the authentic Thunderbirds Are Go shooting stage and discover Weta Workshop's latest jaw-dropping creations.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary Tour
Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.
Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is high!