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The fact that Wellington has become New Zealand's fastest-growing weekend destination tells you something about the city. Once merely its political capital, the city's calendar is packed with celebrations, festivals and some of the country's best theater and dance. Sandwiched between steep hills on one side and the ocean on the other, New Zealand's second-largest city is a walker's paradise. Because so much of the city is within walking distance, you'll never feel the need to hire a cab. And considering the number of cafés, bars and nightclubs that line the streets, you'll probably never feel the need to go to bed, either.Find Cruises Sailing to This Port
If there was one event that signaled Wellington's arrival on the cultural scene, it was the opening of the Te Papa Tongarewa national museum of New Zealand in 1998. This enormous $317 million cultural and architectural masterpiece has received 10 million visitors since then, with almost 30% from overseas. Located on Wellington's spectacular waterfront, Te Papa has built a reputation for its "fresh and bold approach" to presenting the country's treasures and stories. A visit to this museum is just as exciting and invigorating for children as it is for adults. For a small fee, you can try the interactive exhibits including a "virtual" bungee jump, sheep-shearing and a trip to prehistoric New Zealand.
Like a typical New Zealand city, Wellington offers plenty of outdoor opportunities. For starters, there's the terrific 8K Red Rocks Coastal Walk along the southern coastline, past the lava formation of Red Rocks to the seal-covered shores of Sinclair Head. If you're up for a tougher test, you could go on a rock-climbing excursion or hire sea kayaks. You also have the option of hiring a 4-wheel-drive ride for a trip to the rugged hill country with spectacular views of Cook Strait and the South Island.
There are enough restaurants per capita in Wellington to rival some of the biggest cities in the world. Almost every corner of the globe finds itself well represented in this city of restaurants, with Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean fares being particularly conspicuous. If you want to eat out on a budget, Cuba Street is as good a place as any and it also offers a number of vegetarian eateries. The suburbs of Thorndon, Mount Victoria, Oriental Bay and Eastbourne also have their own islands of culinary delight.
Downtown Wellington is an ideal shopping destination. Considering how compact the city is, it takes no more than twenty minutes to walk from one end of downtown to the other. The city's best-known shopping area is Lambton Quay on Willis Street, also called the Golden Mile for its row of department and designer stores. For a more bohemian alternative, visit Cuba Street. Here you'll find markets, alternative boutiques, secondhand stores and, of course, great cafés.
The local currency used is the New Zealand dollar (NZ$). Coins come in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2; notes come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. It is advisable to keep some amount of cash handy especially if you are traveling into rural areas where ATMs are scarce.
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Learn more about this port city with these tourist information guides.