Monday, February 16, 2015

New Zealand Capital Is Fun And Eclectic

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /

A cable car near the Botanical Gardens in Wellington, New Zealand

By Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan
Junior Reporter
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – In the past, Wellington was often described as a lacklustre 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.

Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /

An aeriel view of Wellington, New Zealand
Little money needs to be spent on transportation as the compact downtown – home home to many hostels and museums – can be traversed by foot.
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.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /

Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand
U.S. State Department map

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.
Selvaganeshamoorthi Balakrishnan /

The New Zealand of Museum Te Papa Tongarewa

Selvaganeshmoorthi Balakrishnan /

The photo above shows a life-size Maori

meeting house in the Te Papap Museum.

The photo below shows the Beehive, the 
Executive Wing of Parliament.
Inside, a gamut of bone and rock samples, anthologies, artefacts and interactive displays help break down New Zealand's complex human and natural histories into bite-size pieces that all visitors can understand.
For those yearning to see New Zealand's distinct present-day flora, a trip to the Botanical Gardens is worthwhile.
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.
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 lacklustre capital. Despite its small size and population, the "world's coolest little capital" can cater to every taste and budget. 
Read an accompanying piece about zorbing in New Zealand here.
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