Wellington, New Zealand
The capital of New Zealand, located along the southern tip of the North Island, is a compact city offering plenty to do — from strolling along the lovely waterfront from Queens Wharf to Oriental Bay to pub-hopping and visiting the national museum. Wellington is often included on 10- to 14-night cruises that visit New Zealand’s North and South islands.
What We Love
The Botanic Garden: Take a short ride on the historic Wellington Cable Car — a funicular in operation for more than a century — from the heart of the city up the hillside through the terraced houses of Kelburn to the top of Mount Victoria. From there, stroll around the Botanic Garden and its lovely collection of roses as you enjoy the view of the city and harbor below.
Coastal Scenery: A drive along the coast on the outskirts of Wellington delivers stunning vistas of rocky coastline, bluffs, headlands and mountain peaks off in the distance.
Best Known For
Te Papa National Museum: The country’s national museum and art gallery, an exceptional tribute to New Zealand’s native Maori culture, is a must-do. The exhibits include photography, sculpture and video installations, as well as lots of interactive activities geared to kids.
"The Lord of the Rings" Movie Locations: Wellington is New Zealand’s moviemaking capital and the port for excursions to the "Lord of the Rings" filming locations, including the Hobbiton Woods to see sets for the “Frodo Tree,” “Shortcut to the Mushrooms,” “Get Off the Road” and “Race to the Ferry” scenes. You’ll get to visit the Weta Cave, the really cool mini-museum of the Academy Award-winning special effects company that brought Middle-earth to life; at Weta, see props and miniatures from the films, plus a behind-the-scenes video from the Weta Workshop — and, of course, a chance to buy souvenirs.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers: New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on earth, so definitely get out and explore — from Wellington you can go on excursions and see seal colonies, sheep, wild goats, deer and even ostriches.
Families: This is one of the most family-friendly countries in the world, and Wellington is an ideal port for kids, thanks to its great museums, gardens, zoo and compact size.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Blustery: Known as “windy Wellington” to some, this city is best explored wearing layers along with a scarf and hat that won’t blow off easily.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.