Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Wed July 30 2014
The Parliament Building in Wellington (photo via NZSteve / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Wellington

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The most famous landmark in Wellington. (photo via Robert Chang / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
The most famous landmark in Wellington. (photo via Robert Chang / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Brimming with energy and vitality, Wellington, New Zealand, is a city that offers unmatched culture, entertainment, fine cuisine and natural beauty. The capital city’s charm lies in its close proximity to beautiful beaches, parks, wildlife sanctuaries and seaside villages while still being the arts and culture epicenter of New Zealand. Engulfed by majestic rolling hills and sitting on a rugged coastline, Wellington possesses a wealth of sensory stimulation that people travel the entire length of the globe to find.

The center of Wellington is grouped into four quarters, each having a magnificent spattering of shops, boutiques, art galleries and trendy cafés and restaurants. Not only does this compact city have beautiful natural vistas and a charming inner city brimming with heritage, fine foods and arts, but also a large Central Business District that drives the economy of the city. To fully grasp New Zealand culture, visit the famous waterfront museum, Te Papa Tongarewa. This innovative museum includes exhibits on photography, visual culture and social and natural history.

To see Wellington from a different perspective, take a boat ride around the stunning harbor at sunset or hop on a cable car leaving from Lambton Quay. The hilly, San Francisco-like terrain along the waterfront not only makes the scenery and picturesque Victorian houses that much more of a prize to be seen, but also makes for a slightly athletic jaunt around town. Despite the modernization of Wellington, there are historic buildings like the Atrim House, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Parliament building still peppered throughout the city streets. Whether coming here to visit the filming sites for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, take in the serene natural surroundings or delve into an enticing culinary journey, Wellington, New Zealand, is of unparalleled beauty and allure.

Wharf and rocks of Wellington shoreline, with morning dawn light lighting up the city. (photo via GordonImages / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Wharf and rocks of Wellington shoreline, with morning dawn light lighting up the city. (photo via GordonImages / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Amazingly, this comparatively small city has more restaurants, cafés and bars per capita than New York City. A foodie’s wonderland, Wellington serves up both traditional and cutting edge international cuisine around every corner. From Malaysian to Turkish and French, the options are limitless when it comes to finding a great meal here. Located in Lambton Harbour, Shed 5 Restaurant is a waterfront restaurant serving upscale New Zealand cuisine such as fresh seafood, fish, lamb and venison dishes. Kosmos Greek Tavern is an authentic Greek spot with al fresco dining and live entertainment not to be missed.

Located just five kilometers from the city center, Wellington International Airport (WLG) is a major transit hub for both domestic and international travelers. For getting around, the city has an efficient public transportation network that includes buses, commuter trains, trolleys and ferries. The Kelburn Cable Car is a Wellington icon, and takes passengers between Kilburn (near the botanical gardens) and Lambton Quay. Wellington is considered a pedestrian-friendly city, and walking is recommended in and around the downtown area.

With moderate temperatures year-round, Wellington is characterized by a temperate marine climate. The warmer temperatures come in the winter months of December to March, when the average high is around 69° F (20.6° C). The summer months of June through September tend to be the coldest, and average around a mild 54° F (12° C). The city also tends to be very windy year-round and the rainy season typically lasts from June through August. Though Wellington is a year-round destination to visit, the best times for travel here is during the winter months (December to March) when temperatures are warm and outdoor festivities and scenery are in full bloom.