Wellington Outdoors and Surrounding Lands
By Larry Larsen
New Zealand's capital, Wellington, and its surrounding area offer a lot to visitors as
we found out while staying there for a few days. Surrounded by large hills and facing the Cook Strait, it has earned the nickname "windy city" for a reason, and it
did not disappoint! The beautiful city is conveniently located on the southern part of the North Island, so it's fairly easy to explore much of
the North Island as well as jump on a ferry when you're ready to go to the South Island.
One of the highlights right in downtown Wellington on the waterfront is Te Papa
Tongarewa, a beautiful
Museum of New Zealand that is free to the public. There is no better place to capture a very comprehensive idea of the history of the country from the time it was
discovered by the Polynesians to present day. A visit to Te Papa on Cable Street is highly recommended while in Wellington.
Just a few miles out of the city, we visited
stunning Terawhiti Sheep Station, home of West Wind, New Zealand's largest wind farm (windy city, remember?). Several dozen giant wind turbines installed high on
the hilltops are "driven" by the continuous ocean breeze and produce electricity for approximately 10,000 homes. At the coastline of the same hills we visited rocky
Tongue Point where a colony of fur seals was basking in the sun. They didn't seem to be too bothered by our cameras! It was quite a contrast, standing below the
impressive high-tech wind mill blades while photographing nature.
Wellington lies in the Hutt Valley, gateway to the outdoors. One of the city's most popular yet un-crowded hikes is along the hiking paths at Belmont
Regional Park. We took a 3-mile hike bordering the beautiful little Hutt River which leads to the Korokoro Dam, the country's first concrete dam. The breathtaking hills and bush
-clad valleys provide a perfect venue for walking, running, and mountain
biking and even horse riding. In addition to the dam, the park is also home to World War II ammunition stores and the original main coach
road from Wellington.
On another day, we climbed aboard the Overlander train
at the Wellington station for an hour ride to Featherston station where we met up with highway transportation to a luxury estate.
Wharekauhau (pronounced "forry-co-ho" and means a
place of knowledge) is New Zealand's most exclusive country estate and it was fabulous. The old restored home is perched above a cliff
overlooking the sound. The 5,000 acre property is a working sheep and cattle ranch and offers numerous outdoor activities, such as ATVs, hiking and skeet shooting. Guests also enjoy an indoor
heated swimming pool, gymnasium, spa pool, tennis court and spa treatments. The luxurious cottage suites overlook the ocean, and we enjoyed some of the best lamb, beef and wine of our trip.
Those are just a few of the things that we had time to do. Following are 7 more
things you should consider, when you find yourself in this beautiful city.
1. Get your city bearings and some of Wellington's best views at the
Mount Victoria Lookout.
2. Ride the historic Wellington Cable Car to the Botanic Garden.
3. A city sight-seeing tour is the best way to get acquainted quickly with
4. Try out some of the Wellington restaurants - four have won New Zealand's
Best Restaurant awards in the last five years.
5. Visit the eco-nature attraction Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience.
6. Get an inside peek into Wellywood at The Weta Cave in Miramar.
7. Go stargazing and check out the planetarium show at Carter Observatory.
For more information visit Positively Wellington Tourism at www.Wellingtonnz.com.