This is the best place to learn all about Wellington's past, especially the maritime history. It's full of ship models, sea memorabilia, and exhibits on local life in the past. Of particular interest are exhibits from the ill-fated inter-island ferry T.E.V. Wahine, which was lost at sea with heavy loss of life. Note: The waters off Wellington are treacherous, like those off San Francisco.
The Waterfront path running from the warf area all of the way around to Mirimar is an ideal place to go for a run and see more of Wellington at the same time. The tricky bit for this is the wind which generally blows either from the north or south. With the curving nature of the run as you move around the bays the wind will appear to switch so you'll get a gusty head wind followed soon after by a nice tail wind!
A run from in front of the Museum hotel to the yachet club and back is approx 9km so short enough to get done inside 45 mins (even if you're slow!) and have time to go out for a nice meal nearby.
The name is a little misleading – as this is no academy where you would study arts.
In fact, it is a gallery, combined with a place you can hire for exhibitions or business functions.
It is located in a beautifully restored heritage building at the entrance to Queen’s Wharf.
The Academy was founded in 1892, and had its exhibition halls in several buildings in the city, until in 1997 it moved to the ground floor of the historic Wharf Offices building.
New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts
1 Queens Wharf
Photo 2 shows a detail of this beautiful building.
Wellington waterfront is the perfect place to relax at any time of the day.
A very comfortable path borders the city, and many people takes advantage of the nice view both on the Cook Strait and on the capital. It is the perfect place for people (and boat) watching!
Around by Te Papa is an inner city Wetlands area complete with ubiquitous flora and fauna one would expect of such a setting. It's an unusual sight for an inner city and one that adds to the quirky nature of Wellington. It's a great spot to bring the kiddies who can do a whole lot of bird spotting and getting muddy if they manage to slip away and go for a splash!
The waterfront walk is a great track to wander down before and after work and there are a multitude of people walking, cycling or skate boarding about. With its many different vistas, footpath materials and monuments the walk is a great way to relax in Wellington.
Wellington is a harbour city so it has its obligatory waterfront walk. On a nice day Wellington is the best harbour city in the world - just ask one of the locals lol. You take go for a nice stroll from Waitangi Park at one end all the way around to the Ferry terminal though you'll want to stop at the TSB Arena area for a drink.
I love this. It is like a treasure hunt. There are 15 carved quotations from NZ writers including some of my favourites - James K. Baxter, Katherine Mansfield, Denis Glover.
And they are scattered around in odd and unusual places. You have to stumble upon them. I mean, you can get a map showing where they all are, but I think it is more fun to stumble upon them.
Though it can be a bit chilling. I was going to Te Papa for an appointment and I suddenly realised I was walking on Bruce Mason. Now he was a guy I really liked - he is dead now alas - and it quite gave me gooseflesh.
There is nothing more pleasant than joining the locals in their passegiata along what used to be working wharves and is now the place to be. I have been here three or four times and it has never lacked for people.
Many of them being extremely vigorous on bikes or skates or skateboards or learner drivers in their hired pedal car thingos (my brother thinks they may be called crocodile bikes). So look out for yourself. If you are elderly and a bit shakey carry a walking stick and wave it vigorously at anyone who looks like speed demon.
You can hire kayaks, skates, crocodile bikes etc or climb a rock wall, attend a concert in the arena there, there are several art galleries and museums. Cafes and bars and restaurants galore. Playground for the kiddies with supersafe slides and things (this is 2008). And a view of the harbour and refreshing sea breezes. This is Wellington and it specialises in refreshing sea breezes.
Much much more - the more I go there the more I find out. More tips coming soon.
But the point and purpose of it is - I think - the stroll and the stopping and chatting and the taking of the air.
The true passegiata.
It's long, would take maybe an hour from end to end, - and then if you are really in the mood - continue your stroll around Oriental Bay.
This is the centre of the Waterfront, not only thanks to its central location. It also is the busiest part of the Waterfront, with plenty of places to hang out, meet friends, have fun and action. There is even an office of the Wellington Waterfront management with an information centre, next to the Chicago Sports Bar & Café, if you are into details. And there are shops, galleries, and museums.
The shortest way from the CBD is from Lambton Quay via Grey Street.
You enter the central paved square of the precint past two beautifully restored buildings from 1892, housing the Museum of Wellington City & Sea (in the so-called Bond Store), and the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.
You have a good choice of restaurants and cafés, some of them very expensive, and some with great views, and some with both. They are located in restored old sheds of the early days:
Chicago Sports Bar & Café
If you look towards the harbour, to your left are more restaurants and bars just some steps away:
The Loaded Hog
The Red Dog
A major complex of Queen’s Wharf is the TSB Bank Arena which is the major city venue for indoor sports, concerts, exhibitions, and conferences. There is a Ticketek counter inside where you can get information and… tickets LOL (also for other venues)
Just around the corner is a place named Ferg’s Kayaks where you can rent kayaks, do inline skating and rock climbing (www.fergskayaks.co.nz).
Some steps further to the water is the Dominion Post Ferry that takes you to Matiu/Somes Island, Days Bay, and Petone.
In some other sheds are exhibition venues, heritage sites, like the NZ Academy of Fine Arts.
This really is something and has something for everyone. The Waterfront is a blend of breezy sea air, vibrant city life, busy port, relaxing beach, a place of culture and art, café scene, leisure sports – well, and the annoying helicopter pad for people who want to annoy others by having fun ;-)
The central part of the Waterfront reaches from the Westpac Stadium, Wellingtons “Cake Tin” where the Hurricanes play their Super 14 rugby games, Kings Wharf, Glasgow Wharf, the Bluebridge and Inter-Islander ferry terminals and Waterloo Wharf to Queens Wharf which is a hub of entertainment, with the TSB Arena, restaurants, cafés and art galleries.
Next comes Frank Kitts Park, then a Lagoon, linked by a seaside bridge to Taranaki Street Wharf and Te Papa/National Museum, and by the famous City-to-Sea Bridge to the fabulous Civic Square. If you carry on walking past Te Papa you reach Waitangi Park and the Overseas Passenger Terminal, and finally Oriental Parade. By then you should be tired enough to not carry on to the summit of Mt. Victoria and take the bus up the hill (only Monday to Friday) or back to the city centre LOL
Every some metres you spot something interesting, most times a piece of art, along the Writers Walk, or just sculptures, old ships or a historic floating crane like the Hikitia. Or just the Museum Hotel which outstanding feature is that is what relocated to make room for the bold construction of Te Papa.
In the – I would call it second row – most of Wellington’s most well-known landmarks are lined up, from Parliament Building and the Beehive, the Cable Car, to Cuba Street Quarter, and Courtenay Place. Wherever you are, it is always only a short stroll to the Waterfront which can be – should I repeat it? – very windy at times ;-)
That is just a brilliant stretch of road squeezed between the beach of Oriental Bay and the steep hillside of Mt. Victoria. There are no real attractions along the road which is seamed by glorious Norfolk Pines, just splendid old villas dotted on the hills, with fantastic views and some with private cable cars, and there are some great restaurants along the main road. But that somehow is it.
On the wide footpath you meet joggers all day long, and the road seems to be in the hands of cyclists.
You have great views over the harbour and back to the skyline of the city.
It is quite a walk from the Waterfront and Te Papa but there are bus stops along the whole way. So if your feet are sore just take the bus back to the centre from any place along the parade.
Good restaurants on Oriental Parade:
The White House (expensive)
Tug Boat on the Bay (expensive)
Fisherman’s Table (very affordable)
Photo 2 shows a private cable car up the hill.
Photo 3: Joggers on Oriental Parade.
Photo 4: Art sign in front of one of the restaurants along the road.
Photo 5: Similar to photo 1, just with a stretch of beach and Norfolk Pines.
This spectacular two-metre high iron sculpture near Te Papa, a naked man with eyes closed and arms held back, leaning over Wellington Harbour as if in a roaring gale, has – as I write – only been a loan to the city for a year.
It was installed on 13 February 2008 – and already had to be removed a month later from its Taranaki Street Wharf location because vandals forced it from a nearly vertical position to a 60-degree angle over the water. It was due back after Easter. A new mounting had to be built.
When we were there some days earlier the sculpture was in good order, just displaying a tie around the neck, swimming goggles around the head, and an artificial rose in one hand...
The sculpture was made by the English artist Max Patté who works (worked – whenever you read this) mainly as a sculptor for Oscar winner Richard Taylor at Weta Workshops. The spot on which the naked man stands (stood) was of great significance to Max Patté as it was a place he visited often during a period of loss and grief. To him, it was somewhere to go and reflect upon life, and a place of solace.
Photo 2 is a portrait.
Hikitia is almost certainly the oldest working ship of its type in the world. It is a self-propelled floating crane or heavy lift ship, orginating from Scotland. It was built in 1926 and was steamed out of Scotland in 84 days, with the jib up, as you see it now.
In 2004 the Hikitia lifted 100 tonnes in order to successfully retain its 80 tonnes lift approval. Since 1980 is has made more than 300 lifts.
The ship weighs 926 tonnes, is 51,82 metres long, 15,95 metres wide, and 3,46 metres deep. The height to the top of the crane is 35 metres.
The Hikitia was saved from demolition by a group of private people.
Kupe Raiatea the explorer, his wife Hine Te Aparangi and Pekahourangi the Tohunga (a priestly expert) sight Aotearoa from their canoe Matahourua.
This Kupe group statue has been created in plaster of Paris by the sculptor William Trethewey.
In 1999 it was cast in bronze as a millennium project and unveiled on 4 March 2000, as a tribute to all those who came to the shores of New Zealand.
If you walk along the Waterfront, from Queen’s Wharf (Frank Kitts Park) to Te Papa, you might spot some concrete blocks in the rocks, and in the greenery, to your left and to your right, with words carved into the blocks. Those are all poems or quotes – as you are on the Writers Walk.
This Writers Walk was a project of the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, which wanted to create something lasting to celebrate the Capital’s bevy of writers and poets.
The result is an intriguing smattering of text sculptures along the waterfront. Designed by Catherine Griffiths, each sculpture is a quote by a well-known New Zealand writer with strong Wellington connections. Most are about being in Wellington.
I am sure I have missed some of the poems, finding them all is like searching Easter eggs ;-)