Blown away but not by Welling­ton’s wind

Ur­ban get­away just a few hours flight from Aus­tralia guar­an­teed to sur­prise

The Western Star - - LIFE - CHANTAY LO­GAN

YOU’VE prob­a­bly heard Welling­ton is windy.

That was about the only in­for­ma­tion I was get­ting out of any­one ahead of my first visit, so it’s fair to say I wasn’t ex­pect­ing to be blown away.

But good things come in small, easy-to-get-around pack­ages, and New Zealand’s cool cap­i­tal is burst­ing with colour, cre­ativ­ity and char­ac­ter.

With­out be­ing as­saulted by so much as a mild breeze, I fell in love with Welling­ton in one whirl­wind week­end. Here are some rea­sons you will too. YOU DON’T NEED A CHAM­PAGNE BUD­GET TO SCORE THE UL­TI­MATE WATER­FRONT

VIEW: While the cen­tral busi­ness district is home to a smor­gas­bord of ac­com­mo­da­tion, Oriental Bay af­fords ar­guably the pret­ti­est out­looks.

Just a cou­ple of min­utes’ walk from cen­tral at­trac­tions, the fourstar Copthorne Ho­tel boasts price­less har­bour views.

Soak up the scenery from your bed or cross the road to ex­plore the water­front walk­way. ■ Copthorne Ho­tel Welling­ton: 100 Oriental Pa­rade, Oriental Bay, mil­len­ni­umho­tels. com YOU’VE SEEN IT ALL BE­FORE: The Lord of the Rings, District 9, King Kong, The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia, Ghost in the Shell, Power Rangers – if you’ve seen a movie – any movie – you’ve prob­a­bly seen more of Welling­ton than you re­alise.

Whether weld­ing weapons or bring­ing whole worlds to life, the big­gest film­mak­ers in the world turn to five-time Acad­emy Award-win­ning de­sign stu­dio Weta Work­shop to make it hap­pen.

Vis­it­ing Gol­lum’s birth­place is a rite of pas­sage for many film-lovers and An Evening with Weta and CoCo is a chance to go be­hind the scenes in style.

Picked up from the CBD, guests are chauf­feured from Mid­dle-earth to Tracy Is­land be­fore be­ing whisked to the by­gone glam­our of the Roxy theatre for a three-course meal at on-site restau­rant CoCo.

Heavy cur­tains part to re­veal the stun­ning Art Deco set­ting, where you can swirl a mar­tini sur­rounded by in­cred­i­ble art and movie mem­o­ra­bilia.

Un­like Hol­ly­wood, they’ve adopted a very Kiwi at­ti­tude to their suc­cess … one of the big­gest film stu­dios in the world shares a fence with a New World Su­per­mar­ket.

Wel­come to Wel­ly­wood. ■ An Evening with Weta and CoCo: weta­work­shop.com

THE FOOD SCENE IS NEXT LEVEL: Where to be­gin in a city claim­ing more cafes, bars and restau­rants per capita than New York …?

Here are some ideas: mas­ter­ful mod­ern Asian at Dragon­fly, burg­ers and brews (and but­ter chicken fries) at Burger Liquor, high tea at Hip­popota­mus in the QT Mu­seum, cosy cocktails in The Li­brary and sea­sonal snacks at al­ley­way en­counter Eg­mont Street Eatery.

For cof­fee, I re­ally en­joyed Flight Han­gar, a spe­cialised roaster on Dixon Street, and Mem­phis Belle.

The choice re­ally is over­whelm­ing, which is why I can’t rec­om­mend a Zest food tour highly enough.

It in­cludes a stop at Welling­ton Chocolate Fac­tory where you can sam­ple the Craft Beer Bar, a mar­riage of house-blended ca­cao and Nel­son Sau­vin hops.

■ Zest food tours: Depart i-SITE Vis­i­tor Cen­tre at 101 Wake­field St, zest­food­tours.co.nz

TAKE A HIKE: If you’re vis­it­ing Welling­ton for a week­end there’s no need to hire a car – the best way to ex­plore this com­pact city is to just keep walk­ing.

That’s not to say you should skip a ride on the shiny red ca­ble car that’s syn­ony­mous with the city – just don’t buy a re­turn ticket.

The charm­ing car­riage shoots you to the scenic sum­mit of the Welling­ton Botanic Gar­dens and it’s all down­hill from there. Paths un­furl through na­tive and ex­otic gar­dens, snaking past an­cient trees, fields of flow­ers, lily ponds and se­cret wa­ter­falls.

Pause at the ram­bling, ro­man­tic Lady Nor­wood Rose Gar­den to smell the blooms and en­joy cof­fee and a cake at the Pic­nic cafe.

■ Welling­ton Ca­ble Car: Ca­ble Car Lane, 280 Lambton Quay

LEARN SOME­THING: Un­able to nip down to the lo­cal Kath­mandu for a com­pass, New Zealand’s ocean­far­ing early set­tlers re­lied on an­other sen­si­tive nav­i­ga­tion in­stru­ment.

“He used his tes­ti­cles!” Te Papa tour guide Roger Gas­coigne glee­fully de­clares, re­count­ing how a way­farer would read the swell by squat­ting nearly naked on the bot­tom of his ca­noe.

There’s noth­ing dry about the high­lights tour of Te Papa, or in­deed about New Zealand’s for­ward-think­ing na­tional mu­seum and art gallery, which spe­cialises in sub­lime sto­ry­telling.

One deeply mov­ing ex­hibit draws on the lo­cal film­mak­ing con­nec­tions to hu­man­ise the leg­ends we’ve grown up with.

Gal­lipoli: The Scale of our War should be manda­tory for any Aussie, cap­tur­ing the cruel eight-month cam­paign through the eyes and words of eight or­di­nary New Zealan­ders who found them­selves in ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.

Each is frozen in a mo­ment of time and 2.4 times hu­man size.

The sculp­tures took 24,000 hours to cre­ate. Te Papa Ton­garewa: 55 Ca­ble Street, tetepapa.govt.nz CUL­TURE COMES TO YOU: There are plenty of ways to im­merse your­self in Welling­ton’s creative cul­ture, start­ing with a walk along the water­front.

The Welling­ton Writ­ers Walk con­sists of 11 hid­den sculp­tures along the har­bour, each un­lock­ing a quote, poem or prose from one of the many lit­er­ary tal­ents that have made the city their home at some point in their lives. ■ welling­tonnz.com

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

CUL­TURE AND CLASS: Oriental Bay, Welling­ton, with ma­rina, yachts and hill­side subur­ban houses.

PHOTO: NZSTEVE

Take the ca­ble car to the botanic gar­dens.

PHOTO: CHANTAY LO­GAN

The Te Papa Gal­lipoli ex­hibit.

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