If your New Zealand travels thus far have been all about the great outdoors and sleepy rural towns, Wellington will blow the cobwebs away. Art-house cinemas, funky boutiques, hip bars, theatres and lashings of restaurants – all can be found in the ‘cultural capital’.
As the crossing point between the North and South Islands, travellers have long been passing through these parts. The likes of Te Papa and Zealandia now stop visitors in their tracks, and even a couple of days’ pause will reveal myriad other attractions – a windswept and interesting harbour with a walkable waterfront, hillsides clad in pretty weatherboard houses, ample inner-city surprises, and some of the freshest city air on the planet.
Less than an hour away to the north, the Kapiti Coast has a slower, beachy vibe, with Kapiti Island nature reserve a highlight. An hour away over the Rimutaka Range, the Wairarapa farm plains are dotted with quiet towns and famed wineries, hemmed in by a rugged, wild coastline.