Must-see Sights in Wellington
The Old Government buildings at Lambton Quay form the largest wooden building anywhere in the southern hemisphere. It's also the second biggest in the world and now hosts the Victoria University School of Law. Somes Island sits out in the harbour and used to be a quarantine station, firstly for immigrants and latterly for animals. There is a regular ferry service. The Carter Observatory is just a short jaunt from the top of the cable car ride and has an impressive planetarium.
Visitors may be surprised by the range of shopping available in Wellington. There are good shopping centres at Harbour City and Capital on the Quay, and an even better one at Old Bank Arcade, which is the place to go for fashion and jewellery. Kura Aotearoa is a good choice for art and design, with a strong focus on Maori art. For bargain hunters, the outdoor markets at Left Bank and Cuba Street are a good bet and provide lots of food options and live entertainment while you shop.
You'll never be far from the classic Wellington meal of steak, chips and beer, but the city's restaurants now offer so much more. Southeast Asian influences are evident in much of the cooking and many chefs are now making good use of local plants, vegetables and fresh seafood. Boulcott Street Bistro is a city institution, oozing class and tradition in a colonial-style house. Logan Brown occupies an old bank building, complete with an imposing classical dome and Corinthian columns. It also has a glass-topped aquarium beneath the bar, which makes it a unique place to sip your drink.
Te Papa is the National Museum of New Zealand and has a great variety of exhibits. It's also a rewarding alternative for all the family when the weather isn't so good. If you're interested in the history of Wellington, the Museum of the City and the Sea is highly educational and it's free. The large Central Library provides lots of space to sit quietly and read from the notable collection. Lovers of theatre are spoiled for choice, with the Bats, Circa, Downstage and Embassy theatres all putting on good programmes.
The lively nightlife of Wellington centres around Courtenay Place. Craft beers are popular in the city and some of the best can be found at Goldings, the Malthouse, Little Beer Quarter and Hashigo Zake. Red Square is one of the more popular nightclubs, while Four Kings is perhaps the best sports bar. Famous has the loudest music in the city, while Boogie Wonderland has a light-up dance floor and retro sounds. Valhalla is the place for heavy metal fans and you can dance on the tables at backpackers' favourite, Blend Bar.