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For a vibrant city experience, coupled with New Zealand's breath-taking natural scenery, look no further than the island's thrilling capital of Wellington. The home of many of New Zealand's arts and cultural attractions, Wellington has a wealth of heritage, lively nightlife and fine dining experiences to enjoy, but the major boon for this city is the perfect balance of the natural and the modern it achieves. Ringed by towering mountain peaks, undulating hills and the rugged sights of the coast, Wellington is as much of a magnet for hikers as it is history delvers, as ideal for thrill-seekers as it is pleasure cruisers. Because the city is so compact, yet so close to natural wonders begging to be explored, you can easily get to sample all of its delights, even whilst on a packed itinerary.
This stunning building can be found in the centre of the bustling city, and acts as New Zealand's National Museum. This rare chance to dive in at the deep end and become immersed in the rich Maori culture should not be missed- with the museum offering an amazing collection of artifacts, natural history and environment exhibitions, as well as impressive gallery spaces filled to the brim with portraits, cave paintings, and tribal relics, the exhibits here will linger in your memory for decades to come. Dazzling modern technology give the museum a vibrancy of it very own, as you can experience simulated earthquakes and motion simulator rides. With six floors of history to explore, you can spend hours in the museum and still not manage to explore its treasure trove of cultural delights entirely.
The Wellington Botanic Garden
Secluded from the fast pace of the city, yet still lying within the centre of the city, The Wellington Botanic Garden is a perfect place to enjoy the splendour of New Zealand's flora and fauna without having to strap on your hiking boots. A cable car runs between Lambton Quay and the top of the Botanic Garden, with both being easily reachable from Wellington's Central Business District. The garden boasts over 25 hectares of protected native forest including conifers, beautiful rose gardens and international plant collections. Add this to picturesque fountains, great playgrounds for kids, cosy cafes and a panoramic view of Wellington's bay, and you have a fantastic day trip in store.
The world's first fully fenced urban eco sanctuary, Zealandia is a haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals. Within a single square mile of a lush valley just outside the boundaries of the city proper, there are over 40 species of birds, such as playful forest parrots, endangered hihi and kiwi flourishing within this forest paradise. Free ‘Walk and Talk' guided tours are run by the sanctuary's exceptionally knowledgeable conservation staff up to four times a day, and let visitors get to know some of the more thrilling residents, like eels and Takahe. For an utterly unique experience, the night tours allow to observe nocturnal creatures such as rare frogs and glow worms.
For New Zealand's answer to Harrods's, take a trip to Kirkcaldie and Stains. Selling luxury items and the finest branded goods on the island, this spectacular department store features jewellery, clothing and great foodstuffs. Make sure to bring along your travel documents for duty free offers that are almost too good to be true.
Wellington offers fantastic places to eat, not least because of the cultural diversity of its cafes and restaurants. For the best Asian food in the city, head to the stylish pan-Asian Chow restaurant. Coupled with the chic Library bar, Chow has a festive atmosphere and a delectable menu of both Chinese and Japanese staples, and some unknown gems (blue cheese and peanut wontons being a speciality) for you to indulge in, as well as some plush cocktails. Arbitrageur Restaurant and Wine Room is also a highlight. Polished, elegant, and with a cellar chock full of divine tipple, live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights top off the sophistication that runs from the food to the furnishing.
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