I have to say, I totally agree with the recent plaudits of Lonley Planet's re Wellington being the çoolest little capital in the word, even if I've only been to one other, and that was Canberra. I loved Canberra too, but it's a very different place to Wellywood! I was lucky enough to be given a return plane ticket, with accommodation included, to Wellington, as a Christmas present. What a well-thought out gift!
So, I've just had a three day stint in our Capital city (though, not my first or only visit), I just have to say, the place absolutely rocks. There is such a vibe about this city, and there is a myriad of choices of things to see and do. From a huge range of art galleries, exhibitions, art-house movies, the fun and hustle of Countenay Place, the wonderful Te Papa, the beautiful and large botanic gardens, the boutique shopping, the many bars, restuarants and cafes, some lovely architecture, especially around the Paliament area, the city bays and beaches and of coure, the outer suburbs.
After a day or two in the city, I felt like getting out into the wilds (or as close as possible), so for a meare $13.00 return, caught a train out to Paraparaumu, which was a lovely scenic ride, and I really enjoyed seeing some of the Kapiti Coast. Paraparaumu itsself offered a wide range of shops, but being tired of shopping till dropping, I opted instead to catch a bus to the local beach, which also had a few cafe's, a pub, a fantastic corner ice-cream shop, a few nice motels and a great, long beach. The water was surprisingly warm, and only the wind kept me from staying all day. I also found the locals to be friendly and warm, and met a really nice family all the way from Dunedin on the train.
Arriving back at the city at aounnd eight oçlock that evening, I walked from the railway station around to Courtenay Place, and this did not take long at all, about ten minutes or so all up. My accommodation was really great too, the Trinity Hotel in upper Willis St, very central, and very reasonable for the price of $69.00 a night. Three Star, and all that I needed. A nice room, furnished in my favourite colour, deep reds.
I was impressed at how well-kept and polished the central city streets are. Unlike downtown Auckland, there is no scuffiness, no prolifieration of cheapy two dollar shops, no real junkiness at all, in fact. Just high-class buildings, great shopping, exellent dining out, all with a friendly, zesty vibe.
Also enjoyed catching the train to the Hutt Valley, Lower Hutt has a very good Westfield shopping centre. Loved the surround hills and greenery, and next time, I am going to stay out that way. The last time I was down, I stayed at a great little B & B in Wallaceville, this was only $79.00 a night, for huge rooms, your own ensuite, a large kitchen, computer, and breakfast. In hindsight, much as I enjoyed the city, I prefer to stay out of it, I like the beauty of the quieter Hutt Valley, etc.
If you go in for backpacking, and sometimes I do, The Cambridge Hotel on Cambridge Terrace is really good, and offers both backpackers and hotel accommodation. Eggs on toast for $2.00, and a really central location, right in the heart of Courtenay Place (well, almost). Sadly, Parliament was not in session, but I had beautiful weather to make up for this! Also enjoyed a coffee at the aptly named Ministry of Food cafe, which is just behind the Beehive area. Great coffee and good food, but the thing is with Wellington, there are so many choices. Backbenchers was pretty quiet, and it was also bad timing for a debate night. Never mind, next time! Courtenay Place was my fav though, just for the sheer volume of choices when it came to drinking and eating, as well as colourful entertainment.
So, Wellington really rocks, short on time, there's lots more I could have done and seen, and I plan to go back sometime soon. Eventually, I would love to move down there, Petone was a very cool place...galleries, arty shops, cafes on masse! The Hutt Valley too, very nice.....yep, I'm going to move. It's time to live inside the Beltway. I can see why Lonely Planet loves Wellywood, and so do I. What a Christmas pressie!
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