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Wellington is a compact and walkable city. With a downtown area only 2 km across, most of the major attractions are within easy walking distance from the hotels, cafés, restaurants, bars and shops. The city, originally founded by English settlers in the 1840s, is split into four quarters – Lambton Quay, the best place for shopping; the business area Courtenay Place; the entertainment district Cuba Street, full of cafés and vintage clothing stores that give the neighbourhood a bohemian, alternative vibe; and Waterfront Quarter, which takes in Frank Kitts Park, Waitangi Park, Queens Wharf, and Te Papa. As well as the historic and cultural attractions, Wellington also offers a little bit of Hollywood glamour – the majority of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was filmed in and around the city, and visitors can now follow in the footsteps of Hollywood stars. Wellington is also the ideal launching pad for other great parts of New Zealand, including the wine region of Wairarapa, the coastal destination of Kapiti Coast and Kapiti Island – one of New Zealand’s premier nature and marine reserves. Wellington is also the gateway to New Zealand’s South Island, with two regular ferry services taking visitors across the Cook Strait to Picton.
Most of the major attractions are within easy walking distance from the hotels, restaurants and bars. There are plenty of historical and cultural sights to choose from, like the National Museum (Te Papa) and the City Gallery Wellington. If you are a "Lord of the Rings" fan then you should definitely take the tour around the location where the movie was filmed. There are also many great excursions to choose from such as a trip to the Somes-Maitu Island or exploring the wildlife at Karori.
With over 350 eateries, it’s no wonder Wellington lays claim to being New Zealand’s gastronomic capital. The city’s coastal location means fresh seafood is a highlight on many menus, with local delicacies including crayfish, salmon and paua – a New Zealand shellfish. Sushi restaurants are also common. Wellington restaurants source many of their ingredients from the nearby Wairarapa region – look out for the region’s award winning Pinot Noir wines, gourmet ice cream and Aorangi and Gouda cheeses.
Courtenay Place is known as Wellington’s 24 hour zone, and is the main area to head to on a weekend. Alternatively, head down to the waterfront at Queens Wharf, where you’ll find upmarket and boutique bars with an emphasis on food as well as drink. Alternatively, while away an evening in one of Cuba quarter’s trendy bars and music venues.
Wellington’s compact downtown area is only 20 minutes from one end to the other, making it ideal territory for shop-hoppers. As one of New Zealand’s best dressed cities, fashion is at the core of the Wellington shopping experience. The Lambton Quarter is the main shopping strip, and here you’ll find international chain stores, brand names, and Wellington’s most prestigious department store – Kirkcaldie & Stains, which dates back to 1863. Pay a visit to The Old Bank Shopping Arcade to explore contemporary fashion and beauty stores in a historic setting. Wellington shows its creative side in the Willis quarter, which is home to a variety of exclusive fashion design stores such as Starfish, Voon and House of Hank – the stylish menswear retail store of owner/designer Hank Cubitt – the poster boy of Wellington fashion. Contemporary art, funky fashion and eclectic stores make their home in The Cuba Quarter. Find yourself some kitsch gifts in Iko Iko, or colourful urban fashions in Frutti. Courtenay Quarter hosts some of Wellington’s most popular art stores, such as Kura Contemporary Ethnic Art Gallery, which sells New Zealand, Pacific and Maori art.
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