Wellington, New Zealand

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Wellington Guide – Spend Less, Do More

Wellington skylineYou've seen enough animals to last a lifetime at the Wellington Zoo and Zealandia; your curiosity was piqued by the strange Beehive shaped building where the Prime Minister works; and you even had time for a spot of star-gazing at Carter Observatory and wondered if it was named after the famous All Black rugby player (disclaimer: it's not). But there are many more cheap activities you can do that will make you realize why they call Wellington the 'cultural capital of New Zealand'.

But surely it's too cold for a walk along the beach in 'Windy Welly'

Wellington may have a reputation for wet and wild weather, but when the sun shines, be a local and head for a wander around Oriental Bay – for free! Oriental Bay is a small beach ideal for people-watching on the waterfront where locals rollerblade, walk their dogs or play pick-up games of rugby on the sand. Indulge in a local treat of gelato that combines the best of New Zealand and European flavours at Kaffee Eis.

Mount victoriaAfter the tasty gelato, why not burn off the calories and experience a great view of Wellington at the same time. Hiking to lookout from Mount Victoria will give you a good workout and you'll be able to enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of the city. Travel tip: hike around sunrise or sunset to avoid the hordes of tourists.

You went to Wellington for the culture, but didn't want to fork out for St James Theater...

So head to one of the smaller theaters for a more affordable cultural experience. Lighthouse cinema showcases independent flicks from New Zealand filmmakers, the Embassy Theatre is a beautifully decorated art deco theatre while BATS Theatre and San Francisco Bath House are the best places to catch New Zealand's up and coming amateur comedians and live bands.

After you caught a film or show, you'll probably be a bit peckish so visit Cuba Street with its international culinary delights including Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Turkish, French, Italian and Mexican. One of the local favourites is the Matterhorn which has been around since the 1960s, originally designed as a modernist German-esque coffee house. After a meal and a drink or two, head back out onto Cuba Street to enjoy street performers and buskers that line this cultural center.

I thought about seeing the All-Blacks at Wellington's Stadium...

But that was before I found out about the other sports I could see in Wellington. Cricket is popular in Wellington so buy some team gear and head down to Basin Reserve to support the men's team, the Wellington Firebirds, and the women's team, the Wellington Blaze. If watching sport outside in the cold doesn't appeal, why not stay indoors and support the Central Pulse netball team, the Wellington Saints basketball team or the completely quirky the Richter City Roller Derby League. Naturally though, you'll want to see the sport that New Zealand is obsessed and in Wellington you're never more than a stone's throw away from a rugby match. Visit the Club Rugby website to find out where the nearest game is being played and enjoy the spectacle that gets every New Zealander excited.

You've saved so much on your accommodation...

So now it's time to loosen the purse strings and hit the town. Lambton Quay is ideal for a shopping spree with its high-end boutiques especially at the 150 year old grandiose department store Kirkcaldie & Stains. If you want more quirky shops, the corner of Lambton Quay and Willis Street is home to the wood-lined Old Bank Arcade may be just the ticket.

If you've exhausted your list of sights to see in Wellington, why not drive out of the city for a couple of days and visit Petone. Learn about the history of the first British Immigrants to New Zealand at the Petone's Settlers Museum and their historic meeting with the local Maori chiefs in 1840. Stansborough Mill is also worth a visit as it has created some of the most unique and eco-friendly fabrics in New Zealand since the 1890s and even made costumes for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Narnia movies.

Spend Less, Do More

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