When Can I Move to Wellington?

I fell in love with New Zealand long before arriving in Wellington. But when I got to this city, I wanted to move in.

When Can I Move to Wellington?

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by midtownmjd on February 3, 2008

I love cities. And after a week of countryside and camping in New Zealand, I couldn’t wait to get to Wellington. Little did I know that it would only take about five minutes in Windy Wellington for it to become one of my favorite cities in the world. It has everything a culture hound could want—a famous café scene, fabulous restaurants, museums, galleries, theatres, shopping, and nightlife—on a beautiful harbor that’s seconds away from endless sea and sun-broiled surfers.

The highlight of my visit has to have been driving along the waterfront past Oriental Parade and beyond. In just a few minutes—less time than it takes to drive uptown in Manhattan—Wellington’s funky city vibe gives way to gorgeous houses set off the road by private elevators, which give way to “penguin crossing” signs and deserted, rocky jetties.

Nestled between the hills and the sea, Wellington is perfectly compact, and you can walk the entire city in a day. No matter which neighborhood I was in, I liked gazing up at the bright, wooden houses built into the hills and wondering which one I could live in. (According to the Wellingtonians I met, real estate is actually quite affordable.)

The inner city is divided into a few neighborhoods, each with attractions and personalities worth exploring. The waterfront is home to Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum; Civic Square and its airborne sculpture; a lovely Writers’ Walk; and the Museum of Wellington City & Sea. From there, walk down Cuba St. for a laidback neighborhood full of vintage shops and trendy restaurants. The Courtenay Place area is where to head for after-work and nighttime hot spots. Lambton Quay leads to designer boutiques and parliamentary buildings, and the cable car to the Botanic Garden. A little further afield is Kelburn, a cozy outer-city neighborhood that’s home to Victoria University and the entrance to the must-see Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.
${QuickSuggestions} Allow plenty of time for Te Papa Tongarewa museum. It lives up to its reputation for providing visitors with a cutting-edge interactive education, and its six floors tell a comprehensive story of New Zealand’s history, nature, and people. But I ended up rushing through it, and if I had it to do over again, I’d make my visit there more of a priority. Its guides are excellent; exhibits are geared towards visitors of all ages; and admission is free! What’s not to love?

Take advantage of Wellington’s status as the culinary capital of New Zealand and try some of its most celebrated restaurants. I can’t think of another place that serves up such reliably fresh and innovative cuisine in such a friendly atmosphere. Some of my favorite restaurants line Cuba St.: Logan Brown; Floriditas; and Matterhorn.

One of my favorite things about Wellington was meeting Wellingtonians. They seemed uniformly joyful and full of praise for their city. I met some wonderful people taking small-group tours with Wild on Wellington and Zest Food Tours.

I also recommend doing two things I didn’t have time to do: touring Parliament and heading to the top of Mt. Victoria (or Mt. Vic) for a panoramic city view. I did drive through the Parliament area, and it’s a lovely, leafy compound. Just the fact that you can walk up to the nation’s most important buildings without being stopped by security was intriguing. And I’d be very interested to see what’s inside the city’s (in)famous beehive building.

Lastly, grab a city event calendar before you arrive. Wellington is known for its lively theatre culture, but beyond that, you’ll see only-in-Wellington events listed, including sheep shearing, ballooning, and more.
${BestWay} Do what Wellington residents are famous for and get outside; the city is compact and friendly, so there’s no excuse not to walk most everywhere. Other than that, cabs are available, and cars are useful for driving further out of the city along the waterfront, or to nearby getaways like the Kapiti Coast.

Other than those methods of transportation, I wish I’d had time to rent a bicycle while I was in town; routes along the city’s beaches look gorgeous. There are also world-class areas for mountain biking; Mt. Victoria has even hosted the sport’s world championships.

Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by midtownmjd on February 3, 2008

My stay in Wellington was a whirlwind of activity, so I was grateful to head to a hotel as comfortable as the Copthorne at the end of the day. The hotel’s location on Oriental Bay is wonderful; it’s a short walk to the city center, but far enough on the outskirts to provide a view of the rest of the city, not to mention the sailboats in the harbor just outside. If I left the hotel and turned left, I walked along the water to the middle of Wellington. If I turned right, I walked toward more lovely bays and the end of Wellington’s peninsula.

My third-floor room featured every comfort I could need, including a wonderful, large bed in the back room and two single beds in the entry area. The bathroom was lovely and well appointed, too, and everything was spotless. Every extra I look for, like tea and a hairdryer, was provided.

The first-floor lobby is small but nice, with a flat-screen TV tuned to CNN International. Staff were very friendly and accommodating, and had no problem checking my bags for the day when I checked out.

The Copthorne is owned by Millennium Hotels, and everything about it was freshly renovated and up to the chain’s standards. The hotel likes to say it boasts “five-star service and six-star views,” and I’d have to agree—and would recommend it based on those two things alone. The location and the recent renovation are plusses.

The hotel also features a heated indoor pool and restaurant as well as conference facilities (it seemed to be popular with business travelers, but it was also the middle of the week). Overall, for less than NZ$300 for a three-bed room like mine, this hotel is a great choice for a Wellington base.
Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay
73 Roxburgh St.
+64 (4) 385-0279


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