The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand

Culture and History in Wellington, New Zealand

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City Gallery and Nikau Café

Wellington

Cafés/galleries

This is a lovely place to while away an afternoon (although I whizzed round in under an hour and loved what I briefly saw). I was particularly taken by a bizarre alien-inspired exhibition, one of the visiting collections on tour, and the Michael Herschfield Gallery, devoted to Wellington’s own pool of artists. Admission is generally free to the majority of exhibitions, although a small entry charge may apply to some. Nikau Gallery Café is on site and perfectly complements its creative contemporary surrounds with an up-beat organic menu.

City Gallery and Nikau Café
  • Prices: The café is open daily Monday to Sunday 7.30am - 4.00pm for breakfast and lunch, and Friday night for dinner.
  • Contact: City Gallery Wellington, Civic Square, 101 Wakefield Street
  • Tel: 04-801-3952 (for recorded information) or 04-801-3021 (for general information)
  • Email: citygallery@wmt.org.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Southward Car Museum

Kapiti Coast

Museums

Southward Car Museum has trains, planes and the largest collection of automobiles in the Southern hemisphere. The vintage assembly includes everything from a two-wheeled 1863 bone-shaker to a true gangster’s armour-plated, bullet- and bomb-proof Cadillac (previously owned by an employee of Al Capone). Once you’ve had your fill of automobilia give your legs a spin around the six hectares of surrounding park.

  • Prices: Admission costs: adults $10, children $3, family $25 (2 adults and 2 children 5 - 15 yrs).
  • Contact: The Southward Museum Trust, Paraparaumu
  • Tel: 04-297-1221
  • Fax: 04-297-0503
  • Email: southward@kapiti.co.nz
  • Web: www.southward.org.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Te Papa Museum of New Zealand

Wellington

Museums

New Zealand’s waterfront national museum is both externally and internally impressive. Five floors of art, historical objects, national treasures, Maori stories, re-enactments, interpretations, interactive tasks and visual reproductions focus on the individual components that add up to New Zealand’s unique culture and dramatic landscape. The dynamic museum evolves in step with the country it reflects and is kept fresh with a constantly changing programme of entertainment, events and guest displays. My favourite long-standing exhibition is the unassuming ‘walk-in’ theatre/junk shop at floor level. ‘Golden Days’ is a vibrant 10-minute visual spin through New Zealand’s defining historical moments. You’d need about a week to fully conquer this museum, but, as that’s obviously not feasible, be sure you set aside at least half a day. Kids will love the four discovery centres and daily story-telling and will scamper merrily through artificial woodlands, caves and displays. The on-site café stocks great munchies and coffee by the way.

  • Prices: Free entry. Tours $10 adult and $5 child.
  • Contact: Cable Street, Wellington, Downtown Wellington
  • Tel: 04-381-7000
  • Fax: 04-381-7070
  • Email: mail@tepapa.govt.nz
  • Web: www.tepapa.govt.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace

Wellington

Museums

Calling all literary buffs (and those partial to historic houses and a spot of afternoon tea and cake). This wonderfully restored Victorian house and garden pays tribute to Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp (or Katherine Mansfield to you and I), an iconic female author and one of New Zealand’s most famous exports. Stepping back in time to the birthplace of my most admired short-story writer was inspiring.

  • Prices: Entry $5.50 adult, $4.00 seniors, $4.00 students, $2.00 children.
  • Contact: 25 Tinakori Rd, Thorndon, Wellington
  • Tel: 04-473-7268
  • Fax: 04-473-7268
  • Email: kmbirthplace@xtra.co.nz
  • Web: www.katherinemansfield.com
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Museum of Wellington City and Sea

Wellington

Museums

From Maui to the Wahine, from Dick to Carmen - this museum has all the stories of Wellington. Housed in a restored heritage building, 9 permanent exhibitions use stunning technology to take you back 1000 years and then lead you to a vibrant present-day Wellington. Feature exhibitions explore social, cultural historical or maritime subjects featuring interesting people, entities, events and places from the capital and beyond. There are events and public programmes throughout the year and in June and July a festival of free performances takes place. Open everyday 10am to 5pm.

Museum of Wellington City and Sea
  • Prices: Free admission.
  • Contact: Queens Wharf, Jevois Quay, Wellington
  • Tel: 04-472-8904
  • Fax: 04-496-1949
  • Email: museum@museumofwellington.co.nz
  • Web: www.museumofwellington.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Wellington Highlights

  • Pick up a leaflet from the tourist information centre and head off on one of Wellington's many heritage trails. Wellington is full of classic architecture and notable buildings such as Parliament House and Old St Paul's.
  • Take the short, steep and scenic cable-car ride from Lambton Quay to Kelburn and Wellington's scent-filled botanic gardens. Lady Norwood Rose Garden, a spectacular wheel of colour, blooms throughout the summer.
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