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With a scenic location and plenty of natural and cultural attractions, Wellington, New Zealand, is the perfect year-round destination. This vibrant capital city has something to offer for tourists with any interest, from art to ecology. Russell Jack, Southland Yoga Training’ founder, has traveled all over New Zealand, and Wellington still is among his favorite places. While you’ll never run out of things to do in Wellington, here are Mr. Jack’s six favorite places that you won’t want to miss.
Wellington Botanic Garden
Just a short distance from the heart of the city, the Wellington Botanic Garden offers an oasis of natural beauty. First established in 1844, the Wellington Botanic Garden contains more than 64 acres of native and exotic flora, from ancient forests to bright floral displays. From the garden, you can find panoramic views of Wellington and the harbor. Or, if you prefer, there are plenty of paths into the natural woods for you to explore.
Mt. Victoria Lookout
No visit to Wellington is considered complete without a trip to the top of Mt. Victoria. “Mt. Vic” — as the locals call it — stands just under 200 meters high and offers visitors a stunning 360-degree vista overlooking Wellington, the harbor, and the surrounding hills. Accessible both by car and on foot via the Southern Walkway trail, it’s the perfect place for an afternoon picnic or to catch a scintillating sunset.
Best known for its work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Weta Workshop has provided props, costumes, and creatures for several hit movies. There are several tours available for guests, from the free Weta Cave — offering a shop, mini-museum, and documentary — to an all-day tour for more gung-ho film enthusiasts.
Wander the Wharf
Wellington’s top waterfront location is accented with a wide footpath running along what was once a bustling commercial harbor. Queens Wharf is a great place for walking, running, and biking, and there are several sculptures, museums, and other points of interest. Be sure to stop at some of the many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that adorn the area.
Te Papa Museum
Formally known as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the locals know it simply as Te Papa, and you shouldn’t miss it. Located inWellington’se heart, this free museum tells the story of New Zealand’s indigenous people and features cultural artifacts and artwork. This highly-interactive institution isn’t like the stodgy museums of the past—it’s an exciting way to learn more about New Zealand’s history.
Just a few minutes outside of the central city is Zealandia, a pristine ecosanctuary that has created an island of natural splendor designed to be similar to New Zealand before the arrival of humans. Criss-crossed by several hiking trails, you can take a guided tour or embark on your exploration, making sure to catch glimpses of the rare wildlife that call the area home. This beautiful locale is especially perfect for a night tour, where you’ll come across nocturnal creatures, from hundreds of glowworms to the rare Little Spotted Kiwi.
About Russell Jack
Russell Jack, Southland Yoga Training founder, lives in Invercargill, New Zealand. He is passionate about spirituality, the vegan lifestyle, animal rights, and living in sync with nature. Russell specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations. Vinyasa yoga or flow yoga heightens consciousness by moving from one position to another seamlessly using breath. Russell regularly volunteers with the World Animal Protection organization to support animal rights locally and around the world. He also donates to various non-profit organizations devoted to protecting rare and endangered species in New Zealand. Russell likes to spend his free time in nature, surfing and traveling around the world.