Wellington Off The Beaten Path

  • Look for plaques.
    Look for plaques.
    by craic
  • Shopping!
    Shopping!
    by craic
  • Canopy Walkway to the Visitor Centre.
    Canopy Walkway to the Visitor Centre.
    by Kakapo2

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Wellington

  • Mt Victoria, at night

    by abbymin Written May 26, 2012

    Wellingtons Mt Victoria mentioned in certain tourist publications as one of the best scenic views of a city in the world , Well this i heratly agree with in the daylight it is great but after dark its' awesome , its' as though yo are in a big city , you can stand in one spot and see 360 degree views so beautiful so aewsome , not to be missed

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    St. Gerard’s Monastery - high above Oriental Bay

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    St. Gerard's towering above Oriental Bay boatsheds

    Thanks to its location on a cliff high above Oriental Bay this Catholic red brick monastery is one of Wellington’s most striking landmarks. Built in 1932, it was funded by donations in the time of depression, and integrated into an existing church from 1908. The three-storey building became home of the Redemptorists who had come to NZ in 1883.

    The monastery was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere, who also was the architect of St. Mary's of the Angels in Boulcott Street. He was a pioneer in reinforced concrete constructions which are important in such earthquake-prone cities. Although a massive building, it has a light appearance thanks to its white post and beam structure, decorated by Gothic pinnacles, pointed arches, and lancet windows.

    The monastery has not had many alterations over time – however one dramatic one when the original entrance was demolished to make way for a carpark in 1971 when it became a parish.
    The Redemptorists were in the monastery until 1988 when declining numbers and high cost forced them to put it on the market. In 1992 the International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation (ICPE) purchased it for use as a retreat and training centre for evangelist missionaries. They guaranteed the use until 2012. The City Council bought land in front of St. Gerard’s to prevent it from being obscured by other buildings.

    The church holds historic treasures like the Swan’s Altar, and it has beautiful stained glass windows.

    Catholic mass on Sundays, 10.30am

    Address: 75 Hawker St (corner Moeller St & Oriental Terrace), Mount Victoria

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

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    Check out Thorndon

    by craic Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Cute!
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    It is not exactly off the beaten path - but I am going to use this section to describe suburbs which seem worth devoting some time to. Thorndon is actually close to the CBD. The pretty part with all the cafes and quaint wooden houses and antiquey shops starts about half way up Bowen St (near the railway station) and continues along Tinakori Rd. Take a number 03 bus to Karori Park and get off at the top of Bowen St and then walk back down - but it really isn't a difficult walk up the hill. The cute pretty part isn't very huge! Perhaps get a map of all the historic places from the Information Centre at Civic Square to give your wanderings some point and purpose.
    Stop off for refreshments at a cafe or at the Shepards Arms Pub - rummage through the bookshops and galleries and shops full of ye olde stuff (one shop thinks the 60s is a source of ye olde stuff) some clothing boutiques, couple with second hand designer stuff - vintage?
    But it is the pretty pretty typical Wellington houses, all buffed up, perched on hills or down in gullies which are the main attraction I think.
    This area had descended into being almost a slum - but then was rescued and gentrified.

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    The sunny Wairarapa - *so* worth a visit

    by lu_ese Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Wine Tasting
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Old St. Paul's

    by vtveen Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    interior of Old St. Paul's

    On our walk through Wellington we also encountered Cathedral Church of St. Paul, or as it is called nowadays "Old St. Paul's".

    The outside of this gothic building is white and it does not look very big. But once we went inside we were impressed by the warmth of the timber interior with some beautiful stained glass windows. The church was built (1866) in native timbers like totara, rimu and kauri.

    After the realisation of a new cathedral Old St. Paul's is no longer a parish church and was taken over by the government of New Zealand.

    You will find Old St. Paul's at 34 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon, Wellington. It is rather close to the Old Government Buildings at the north end of Lambton Quay.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Otari-Wilton's Bush

    by djramey Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    At Otari, Wilton's Bush

    Visit Otari-Wilton's Bush, a native botanic garden and forest reserve that lies just on the outer banks of Wellington. Otari-Wilton's Bush is the only botanic garden in all of New Zealand that is dedicated solely on native plants. The garden has over 100 hectares of native forest and many believe it to be one of the most scenic of it's sort on the whole of North Island. No where else will you find such a virgin and native bush than Otari-Wilton's Bush.

    This reserve boasts over 11 kilometers of walking tracks that weave through forest and open grass areas, including several that last around 40 minutes to an hour. You will also find Waharoa, otherwise known as gateways carved in totara by Maori peoples.

    Visit Otari-Wilton's Bush for picnics with the whole family or solemn walks, but be prepared to see some of the most beautiful scenery in Wellington.

    You can take bus no. 14 from Lambton Quay or find your way in a car to Wilton Road.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Makara Beach

    by djramey Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Sea Watching at Makara Beach

    Makara Beach, just a short jog in the car from downtown Wellington, is a hotspot on the weekends and maybe one of the quieter beaches in New Zealand during the week. When I visited on a Friday morning, there were only 5 cars in the lot and only 2 people to be seen collecting drift wood.

    To further enjoy the rough and rigid nature of Makara, head up the Makara Track. Makara Track begins and ends at the beach, and gives some of the better views in all of Wellington, and dareIsay the North Island.

    The beach is at the end of Makara Road which runs from the south end of Karori Road. You will come up in between no more than 15 houses and be set on the black rock beach sorrounded by vast cliffs and wave breaks.

    To view more Makara Beach photos, click here.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Beaches

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    Serious walking in Wellington

    by craic Updated Sep 7, 2008

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    I got a swag of booklets at the info centre in Civic Square for the more serious tramping type of walking.
    Like there is the Skyline Track and the Southern and Northern Walkways.
    There is a map so you are not just wandering aimlessly.
    Mind you when I was out wandering on Mt Victoria today I kept coming upon signs directing me to the Southern Walkway. (And also to filming locations for Lord Of The Rings.) So it was hard to be aimless and get lost.
    I would very much like to do the Eastern Walkway out Seatoun way by the Pass of Branda and get to see the Ataturk memorial.

    Mind you, most walking in Wellington is of a fairly serious nature. Not a stroll in the park sort of city. As I was descending to Oriental Bay today it was just like walking to Portofino (see my San Fruttuoso page). Walking to Portofino has become a catchcry in my family for an extraordinary walk. "It was like walking to Portofino!" Today Wellington was just as beautiful - and steep.

    There is a plan afoot to get a walkway system (the Te Araroa Walkway) from Cape Reinga to the Bluff (except for Cook Strait of course LOL) and I believe extensive stretches of it are completed.

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    More walking in Wellington

    by craic Written Sep 7, 2008

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    Here is another example of something I must do on this trip.
    Catch a lovely day and catch a number 23 bus Southgate-Mairangi. (They don't go all that often, so check a timetable.)
    Get off in View Road, Houghton Bay.
    Keep in mind they call it View Road for a reason.
    Walk along the ridge line then head down - either to Lyall Bay and stop of for refreshment at the Maranui Cafe on the beach which used the be the Surf Lifesaving Club - or head towards Island Bay and find a cafe there.
    I went out to a friend's place in View Road with an American and an Australian who had not been there before - and did delight in their squeals of amazement as the bus driver swung the bus along this goat track!
    If you are really fit you could do it the other way round and come down by the Wellington Zoo.
    A spectacular walk.

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    Pics coming soon - Walking in Wellington

    by craic Written Sep 7, 2008

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    This is one of the most interesting things to do of all. As long as the weather is good enough -so do take advantage of a lovely day.
    Even walking in the hilly suburbs can be fascinating - what with quaint staircases and zig-zags, quite an adventure.
    But we are also fortunate in that we have the town belt - Mt Victoria and Tinakori Hill which were designated to be left as nature reserves in about 1900.
    The possibilities are endless but just as an example let me tell you about a lovely walk I took today.

    I got the number 2 bus to Miramar and got off at the Hataitai Shops, 2 stops past the tunnel.
    Then I headed up Waipapa Rd and into Arawa Rd. I was now on the ridge of the hill and the walking was easy and the view was stunning! The harbour, the Oronorongas tipped with snow, the planes coming in to land at Rongotai Airport.
    I was about to head down to Oriental Bay but I noticed the signs pointing to Byrd Memorial and Mt Victoria Lookout so I headed upwards. And I was not sorry I did. Wellington has never looked more beautiful.
    Then I found a rough track with a sign pointing to the Southern Walkway and Oriental Bay so I headed off downhill. Bit steep and muddy - but I coped so anyone with a reasonable head for heights and and level of fitness should cope.
    I did see a young girl on the uphill climb hanging over a rail exhausted being exhorted by her friends to show a bit of spirit - and she was barely 100 metres into her climb. The younger generation! Tsk tsk.

    Then I hit Oriental Bay and had a well deserved snack and a coffee at the Parade cafe. Very nice indeed it was.

    This is just an example. I could have made many variations on this walk. Spoilt for choice really.

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    Check out Petone

    by craic Updated May 15, 2008

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    Lighthouse Cinema.
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    It is just a short hop along the motorway from Wellington CBD. Go by train or by bus.
    You can use a Discovery Pass or a Starpass for all day travel on the bus in Wellington and out to here. ($12 and $10 - you can also use these tickets on the Airport Flyer.)
    If you are staying within Wellington then you only need a daytripper ticket. ($5 and there is an equivalent day tripper for the Hutt Valley.)
    Petone (pronounced Pe- Tony) is the gateway to the Hutt Valley.
    Catch an Eastbourne bus, or the Valley Flyer or the Airport Flyer. Other buses go through here too.
    It is a great little area, nice shopping, lovely foreshore one block from the main drag which is Jackson Street. Cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
    May I suggest a good day trip.
    Morning tea in the Screaming Turtle Cafe. Check out the shopping and the foreshore and the Settlers Museum. Perhaps wander some back streets to see the cute old cottages.
    Lunch in La Bella Italia (you will think you are in the beautiful country) then catch a 3-15 matinee at the Lighthouse Cinema.
    Round it all off with a coffee at their cafe.

    Then hit the pubs!!!!!

    I have a Petone page so check out the fine details.

    Petone - It rocks!

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    Old Government Buildings

    by vtveen Updated May 5, 2008

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    Old Government Buildings

    Just after the hustle and bustle of the shops of Lambton Quay lie the Old Government Buildings. We found it really impressive to see this massive building, knowing it was built of kauri wood. First we didn't recognise the difference between a brick building and this one. They made a great job with imitating bricks.

    This should be the biggest wooden structure on the southern part of the world. We suppose there will be never again built such a nice building, while the kauri trees are now protected in New Zealand.

    On the ground floor, with a DOC-office, are a couple of restored rooms, with some displays, open for the public. The rest of the building is used by the Victoria University.

    Government Buildings are at the north end of Lambton Quay, opposite the Cenotaph (close to the Parliament Buildings).

    Related to:
    • Architecture

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    A trip to Cape Palliser and the Wairarapa

    by Kakapo2 Written Apr 16, 2008

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    View to the Cape Palliser lighthouse.

    If you have a spare day you should hire a car and make this trip into laid-back villages far away from the busy world, test the wines of Martinborough, and visit the end of the world – well, not the world, just the end of the road, at the isolated North Island’s southern-most point.

    Do absolutely NOT take a car with limited kilometres. The trip looks much shorter on the map than it is. We had a good laugh when our odometre showed about 187 km at Cape Palliser – and hubby had thought 200 free kilometres for the whole trip would be a good idea LOL

    Places we went to:

    Rimutaka Hill
    Featherston
    Lake Wairarapa
    Pirinoa
    Lake Onoke
    Lake Ferry (place, no lake)
    Putangirua Pinnacles
    Ngawi
    Cape Palliser
    Martinborough
    Greytown

    You could extend this trip to Masterton and Mt. Bruce (Wildlife Sanctuary) if you do not have to get on a certain airplane in the evening… If you want to include Castle Point you should plan two days.

    Details and tips about the locations mentioned above on separate pages, to be published in the not too far future.

    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Otari-Wilton’s Bush (1) – Native Plants and Birds

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 16, 2008

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    Canopy Walkway to the Visitor Centre.

    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.

    Directions:
    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.

    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Otari-Wilton’s Bush (2) – History, Tours, Trails

    by Kakapo2 Written Apr 16, 2008

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    Walking along the stream.

    This forest reserve was originally coverd in dense podocarp broadleaf forest. Maori used the forest for hunting which gave it the name Otari, meaning “Place of Snares”.

    When the Europeans arrived, some of the large trees were felled for the timber, and others were burnt off for creating farmland. One of the early landowners preserved 7 hectares of the original forest and fenced it off. His name was Job Wilton – and his forest became Wilton’s Bush.

    In 1906 the forest became a Scenic Reserve. In 1926 the Otari Open Air Native Plant Museum was established. Dr. Leonard Coayne and J.G. McKenzie had the vision to conserve the native forest, cultivate plants from all over the country, and teach people about native plants. Their vision has become reality, and in many areas people try to copy their achievements.

    If you want to learn more about NZ’s plants: Guided tours are available for groups (booking phone 04 499 1400), and they hold seminars and workshops from time to time.

    At the Visitor Centre you can get a great brochure about the Nature Trail within the reserve. You walk from post to post (twelve in total), and can study the most common plants. You find the detailed description in the brochure. Allow 30 to 60 minutes to complete the trail. No wheelchair access to this trail – only to the Visitor Centre.

    Directions:
    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.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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Wellington Off The Beaten Path

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