The Road Ahead : June July 2007
and visited the beautiful Kaitoke Regional Park, home to the movies' Rivendell scenes. Here you get to walk through the native forest and enjoy a substantial picnic lunch. The site visits also included spots where the Helms Deep, Minas Tirith and Gardens of Isengard scenes were created. We also stumbled across the ship that was used in King Kong. For movie lovers, the tour's a great day out. The full day Rover Ring Tour costs NZ$150. Back in Wellington, you can visit the Embassy Theatre (on Kent Tce) which in 2003 hosted the world premiere of the third Rings movie, The Return of the King. It's pretty easy to walk from one side of Wellington city to the other (tr y one of the many self-guided walks), taking in the major sights. Visit bustling Cuba Street, for example, with its cafes, fashion stores, ar t and music outlets, and quirky shops. Not far away, on the water front, you'll find the impressive national museum, Te Papa. Te Papa showcases the countr y's histor y, culture and traditions through an impressive range of ar tefacts, displays and interactive exhibits. A range of guided tours ($10-$30 for adults) are available, or you can rent an audio tour ($5) and wander around yourself. The museum opens daily. Entr y is free. Fur ther along the water front you'll find the Wellington Information Centre (Victoria and Mercer streets), the Museum of Wellington City and Sea (free) at Queens Whar f, rock gardens, Plimmer's Ark Galler y and some classy restaurants. The CBD is in the Lambton Quar ter of the city. Here you'll discover historic buildings, Wellington's cable car (and museum), a myriad of shopping options and more places to eat and drink. If you want to get a good handle on the 'foodie' side of Wellington, tr y Zest Food Tours. Zest offers a range of tours in the inner city area (walking tours) and fur ther afield, costing from NZ$99 to NZ$570. For a real feast for the soul in downtown Wellington, take a Walking Gourmet Tour (NZ$210). The four-hour tour visits boutique coffee roasters and gourmet food stores, finishing with a three-course 'tasting' lunch at a top restaurant. Along the way, you talk to the owners. Guide and joint Zest owner Catherine Cordwell kicked of f at Mojo Coffee, where we had a couple of 'hear t star ters' and learnt about coffee roasting. Near the roaster was a huge stack of hessian bags -- a recent deliver y of 18 tonnes of coffee beans from different par ts of the globe. Next stop was Moore Wilson Fresh, a business which stocks a tremendous range of fresh produce, including fruit and vegetables, all manner of meat (including ostrich and thar, a type of mountain goat), seafood, cheese, baker y products, flowers and oils. Other visits included Meat on Tor y, a contemporar y butcher/ deli dedicated to fine meats and innovative cuts, and Schoc Chocolate Therapy, where you are easily convinced of the benefits of chocolate during a chocolate tasting. Tr y to identify some of the 54 flavours on offer (lime-chilli is the big seller). We finished up at Shed 5, on the water front, where a top- class lunch was ser ved with matching wines. The Zest tour is a good introduction to the food scene here. During my shor t visit, I found that the cafes and restaurants consistently provided good ser vice and quality food at reasonable prices. Arbitrageur (wine bar and restaurant, Featherston Street), Pravda (contemporar y cuisine, Customhouse Quay), The Ambeli (modern Mediterranean, Majoribanks Street) and Floriditas (cafe, Cuba Street) all excelled. When you're looking for somewhere to stay in Wellington, consider the 139-room Novotel and 200-room Ibis hotels. Both are well located, the Novotel on The Terrace, with elevator access to Lambton Quay, and the Ibis on Featherston Street, near the water front. Rates var y seasonally. The three-star Ibis has a 24-hour reception, restaurant, bar and in-house movies. The rooms are comfor table, with tea and coffee making facilities, cable TV, internet access and small but functional bathrooms. If you'll have a vehicle, check regarding parking options. The four-star Novotel has well-furnished rooms, with in-house movies, internet access, mini-bar, tea and cof fee making facilities and safes. The hotel also offers guests a gym, business centre, concierge ser vice, valet parking and 24-hour reception and room ser vice. There are many layers to Wellington. Peel back a few to reveal a small but charming, cosmopolitan city. And when you're done, remember, it's also the place to hop on a ferr y for a journey to the South Island, where more discoveries await. WINGING IT IN WELLINGTON • Currency: At the time of going to press, A$1 = NZ$1.11. • Getting there: The author travelled from Brisbane to Wellington with Pacific Blue. Pacific Blue offers regular flights both ways, depar ting Brisbane in the early evening, and depar ting Wellington in the early morning. Flying time is about 3½ hours. New Zealand is two hours ahead of Brisbane. • RACQ Travel books fly-drive and coach tour holidays to New Zealand. Call 1300 888 449 to speak to one of our experienced travel consultants. Wellington Tourism Jim Mathers Jim Mathers LEFT: Wellington Harbour, from Mt Victoria. INSET: Mojo coffee. BELOW, FROM LEFT: "Get off the road" -- getting into the spirit of the Lord of the Rings tour. Chocolate Fish Cafe. Cour tenay Place. "The city boasts a lovely harbour frontage, some 400 cafes and restaurants, and a healthy art scene."
April May 2007
August September 2007