WELLINGTON, New Zealand – In the past, Wellington was often described as a lackluster capital due to its small size and lack of global political clout.
But in an attempt to encapsulate the spirit of the entire nation, Wellington has reinvented itself by restoring old monuments and building new ones.
Today’s Wellington possesses a fun, eclectic and enriching vibe.
Wellington is probably one of the most backpacker-friendly capitals in the world.
Little money needs to be spent on transportation as the compact downtown – home home to many hostels and museums – can be traversed by foot.
An aerial view of Wellington, New Zealand. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)
Most museums are free and the majority of places of accommodation are affordable.
I started the day at Cuba Street. There, people who are walking around can be forgiven for thinking that they are in the middle of Havana or Miami.
Being the bohemian quarter of Wellington, Cuba Street is home to numerous shops selling urban outfits and antiques, cafes and restaurants. It is definitely the best place in town to scour for those “Made in New Zealand” souvenirs for loved-ones back home.
Next, I decided to enrich my trip by visiting the New Zealand of Museum Te Papa Tongarewa.
In the Maori language, the museum’s name means “Container of Treasures.”
The museum did live up to its name. Unlike most national museums where an ancient facade awaits you, the exterior of this museum is modern and funky.
The New Zealand of Museum Te Papa Tongarewa. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)
Inside, a gamut of bone and rock samples, anthologies, artifacts and interactive displays help break down New Zealand’s complex human and natural histories into bite-size pieces that all visitors can understand.
Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand. (Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)
For those yearning to see New Zealand’s distinct present-day flora, a trip to the Botanical Gardens is worthwhile.
A life-size Maori meeting house in the Te Papap Museum. (Selvaganeshmoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)
Though perched atop a hill, the Botanical Gardens can be reached effortlessly at a small price thanks to New Zealand’s oldest cable car system. Don’t forget to pop by the Cable Car Museum when visiting the Botanical Gardens!
From the cable car station at the bottom of the hill, I decided to end my day by visiting the Parliament grounds.
The Parliament and the Executive Wing of Parliament, known colloquially as the ‘Beehive’ due to its bizarre shape, is open to visitors eager to learn more about the country’s democratic rule-making process.
The Beehive, the Executive Wing of Parliament. (Selvaganeshmoorthi Balakrishnan/YJI)
A tour, which lasts an hour, is the only way visitors can enter the core of the buildings within the Parliament grounds. The tour was informative and guides were both knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor.
In sum, Wellington is definitely far from a lackluster capital. Despite its small size and population, the “world’s coolest little capital” can cater to every taste and budget.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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