Exploring Capital Cities: Wellington, New Zealand
Capital cities are an excellent focal point for travel. While in some cases (London, Tokyo) the capital is also the largest city in the country, in many other cases (Australia, USA, New Zealand) they are smaller, but even more rich in history and political interest. New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is a particularly interesting blend of historic events and architecture, and a vibrant off-beat arts culture. With great food, fantastic galleries and museums, and a wide range of different activities, it’s a great destination for anyone who wants a laid-back and cultured holiday.
Wellington became the capital city of New Zealand in 1865, though it had been established as a thriving port town by both Maori and European settlers long before that. The capital city had originally been Auckland, but with the entire South Island needing to be governed as well it was decided a place in between the two halves was better suited. Now it is the location of the national house of parliament, as well as the highest court and a housing for the governor-general and the prime minister. As a result, it is full of interesting and important historic architecture, from a range of different time periods. However Wellington is also a modern city, with a large university and polytechnic that feeds a busy youth culture. It’s also home to lots of greenies and alternative life-stylers, and you’ll be able to find every kind of food and lots of organic eateries throughout the central business district.
Top things to do while exploring New Zealand’s capital include:
- The Beehive. New Zealand’s house of parliament is aptly named for its beehive-like shape. You can go on guided tours to get an inside glimpse of how the building works.
- Te Papa. Wellington is home to one of New Zealand’s most eminent museums, hosting natural wonders including a frozen giant squid, as well as a section on earthquakes (of which Wellington stands to high risk).
- Cuba Street. Much of Wellington’s alternative side is focused on Cuba Street, which runs through the city and is host to independent cafes, restaurants, art galleries and clothing shops.
- Government Buildings. Due to an earthquake in 1855, many Wellington buildings were made from wood. This includes the Government Buildings, which is the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Wellington Railway Station. A beautiful historic building and also a functioning railway station, where you can take trains out to the outer suburbs and towns such as Lower Hutt and the Kapiti Coast.
Further reading about exploring capital cities:
Capital cities are always a fantastic blend of architecture, history and culture that make them an exciting destination.