New Zealand’s capital is a vibrant city with an active arts scene and thriving cafe culture. The CBD is compact. You can wander from Cuba Street with it’s eclectic independent retailers down to Lambton Quay, dubbed ‘The golden mile’ with it’s high-end shops, in around fifteen minutes.
Wellington is also home to Te Papa, the country’s national museum and a fascinating place to spend an afternoon. It’s also worth taking a drive around the southern coast where houses cling to cliffs above a dramatic rocky shore. For a more sedate beach option, Oriental Parade in the city is a lovely spot for a walk and an ice cream.
Thought to have been occupied by Māori since 950AD, the first European settlement of the area that was to become Wellington began in January 1840 when Edwin Gibbon Wakefield, founder of the New Zealand Company and a man of questionable morality, sailed into Port Nicholson with the intention of setting up a town. The company’s methods were dubious to say the least and the whole scheme came close to failure on several occasions due to a lack of suitable building plots and difficulty negotiating land deals with the in situ Māori population. The Wakefields did eventually succeed, although in a modified form from their original plans.