Wellington is surely the city in NZ with the most character. Not just in the society and people, but also in the architecture.
Maybe because of the layout or the "terrain" of the city, which has many hills and valleys, there seem to be a few of these interesting buildings that are only one shop wide but two or three stories high. I love this example of these skinny buildings. It has been renovated well and looks very resplendent in its painted glory.
Wellington Homes Interesting History & Style
Like San Francisco California of the late 1800's, Wellington also built many wooden Victorian Houses, sometimes in a row (as pictured) The homes featured bay windows, light pitched roofs and wide sheltered verandas (porches) in response to mild climates.The houses also have ornate arches and a variety of brackets,inspired by Victorian Ironwork but made of timber with the American Invented Scroll Saw and other improved wood working tools. Another common feature in the homes of both Wellington and San Francisco was the use of NZ native Kauri timber. Before the Panama Canal was built or the US railroad tracks were laid between the East & West Coast, it was faster and more economical to import timber and many other things, across the Pacific, from New Zealand to (mainly Northern) California.
Because of my love of history and both California (my homeland) and NZ ( my 2nd home) I really appreciate the cross cultural influences .And of course NZ has many wonderful charms and influences that are exclusively her own to be explored and appreciated as well.
The sunny Wairarapa - *so* worth a visit
When visiting Wellington take the time to go over the Rimutaka Hills & into the Wairarapa region. It's a beautiful escape from the city into a number of vineyard-rich towns, Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown, Carterton and Masterton.
A few times my partner and I have headed up in that direction for a romantic weekend getaway. In Martinborough we lazily cycled between vineyards, tasting wines and loading up a backpack with a bottle of each of the best ones. You can hire a bike from the information centre for about NZD$5/day, I think. It's a lovely way to spend the day, as many vineyards offer a cheese platter to nibble on, while having a glass of the local wine, and sitting among the grapevines, or emersed in some divine of landscapes. Vineyard tours also offered.
Martinborough & Carterton have some particularly delicious restaurants, neat boutique stores, art galleries, antique shops, cafes & walks. Waste-away a day or two in just Carterton, Martinborough, or Greytown floating between coffees, art, wine, designer gift shops and tapas (I've forgotten the name, but suss out directions to the Greytown restaurant that won New Zealand Restaurant of the Year a few years running. Their tapas rivels any other I've ever tried... :-) ).
Each time we stay in one of the Wairarapa townships we stay in Bed & Breakfasts, Homestays or Farmstays a great way to relax and unwind, often nestled in picturesque gardens and the like *sigh!* ...and the staff are always chatty and helpful... It's the kiwi way.
The Wairarapa gets many more sunshine hours than Wellington, for some reason. Often it's sunny and beautiful up there, and rotten in the city.
It's just a lovely change of pace in the mountainous region north of Wellington city. About an hour or two from the city; rent a car or take the train, most accomodations will offer a free pick up service from the train station if you ask nicely :-). See the website below, or just google ''accomodation wairarapa new zealand", that's how I've found all of our places.
Otari-Wilton’s Bush (1) – Native Plants and Birds
This is another fantastic place, second in my list after the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. It has no fence but pest mammals like possums and rats are controlled, so you will spot a lot of birds. When I was there the bush seemed full of tuis, filling the air with their beautiful song.
But as there are no controls in this area, you will also see some idiots – mostly women, with and without children – who let their dogs run free, take a swim in the stream, and scare away the birds, and make their kids learn for the future :-( They do not mind the signs that dogs should be kept on a leash at all times. A nuisance that I observe all over NZ.
About 11 km of walking tracks weave through the forest and open grass areas of Otari-Wilton’s Bush which primarily is a native botanic garden and forest reserve of 100 hectares. There is a so-called Troup Picnic Area along the Kaiwharawhara Stream. It has coin-operated gas BBQ’s – apart from the free running dogs… (But please do not think there would be dogs everywhere! The problem is that already one can be terribly annoying if the owners do not look after them. On the day I was there - during the week - I met only a handful of people.)
There are several access points to the reserve. The main entrance and car park are between the Wilton Bowling Club and Otari School.
From the Banks Entrance at the corner of Wilton Road and Gloucester Street you get on to a 75 m long Canopy Walkway which leads to the Visitor Centre (open 8am – 4pm). From this 75 m long and bridge-like boardwalk 18 m above the ground you can have a good look at what happens in the tree canopies. (But do not expect an exciting treetop walk like in South-West Australia, it really feels more like a normal bridge.)
About 150 species of flowering plants, conifers and ferns can be found in the forest. A 800 year old rimu is their pride. It is part of forest remnants of rimu and matai. In total the plant collections of the reserve include about 1200 species from the whole of New Zealand. It is the only botanic garden in NZ dedicated solely to native plants.
Such a lot of native plants attract native birds. I already mentioned the incredible lot of tui. Other species are kereru (NZ woodpigeon), fantail, silvereye, kingfisher, grey warbler, and morepork.
To keep the bush growing, aggressive weeds like old man’s beard, ivy, and jasmine are controlled – meaning: eradicated. Plants are grown from seed collected in the forest and planted in selected areas.
Bus # 14 from Lambton Quay, get off at Gloucester Street, outside the main entrance.
By car: Main car park on Wilton Road, another one on Churchill Drive.
Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) is one of New Zealand's three largest airports. For the year to 31 March 2002 it handled 3.7 million passengers, of which 0.5 million were international. For the same year there were 110,690 aircraft movements.
The airport has a single 1936m runway and is a major domestic hub in the regional and national transport system, together with providing international services across the Tasman to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Facilities include: Koru Club lounge, duty free shops, book shop, gift store, music shop, NZ souvenir shop, disabled/wheelchair/baby changing facilities, short- and long-term parking.