Staying in Touch
To make international calls, buy a phone card. They're available at post offices, visitor centers and convenience stores. For e-mail, the Aotea Quay cruise terminal has six Internet stations. The iPlay Cafe behind the Opera House at 40 Manners Mall is open 24/7. The i-SITE Visitor Center in Civic Square has an Internet cafe. Open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 205 p.m.; weekends 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where You're DockedThe big ships dock at Aotea Quay, between the Interislander Ferry Terminal and the train station. The walk to the city center takes over 20 minutes. Small ships dock at Queens Wharf, right in the heart of town.
Wellington is relatively small. You can walk to all the major sights from your ship, though you may want to grab the ship's shuttle or a taxi from Aotea Quay to the center of town and walk from there.
By Taxi: You'll find cabs at the pier. They usually take debit and credit cards. If you need to call, try Corporate Cab at 0800-101-103.
By Bus: Walk from the dock to the north end of Lambton Quay for frequent bus service linking one end of the harbor to the other. Go to the railway station for buses traveling beyond the city center and harbor area. Bus fare starts at $1 NZ. A $205 NZ day-tripper pass gets you on local public transport, including the cable car.
By Rental Car: For out-of-town exploration, rental cars are available from the usual outlets -- Avis, Budget and Hertz. Darn Cheap Rentals offers a small car at $28 NZ (about $19 US) per day. Call 0800-800-327.
What to See and Do
- Museum of New Zealand: You could easily spend all day at Te Papa, New Zealand's marvelous national museum. Five floors of interactive exhibits and displays are housed in an enormous contemporary building showcasing New Zealand's treasures. The exhibits tell the story of the nation's past (a Maori meeting house and the entertaining Golden Days junk shop), present (a virtual bungee jump) and future (special exhibits). Be sure to ask about special programs, such as Polynesian dancing or a Maori version of the game "Simon Says." Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursday until 9 p.m. Free admission except for short-term exhibits and the Time Warp.
- Cable Car View: For a spectacular overview of the city and harbor, ride the cable car from Lambton Quay (behind the downtown shops) up to the hilltop district of Kelburn. The cars move along a cable in the ground, not in the air. You can ride down ($1.80 NZ one way), or spend an hour or more strolling back to sea level through the Botanic Garden and the gorgeous Lady Norwood Rose Garden. Allow extra time. It's further than it looks, especially if you take a wrong turn. Fortunately, the signage is excellent, and you can catch a cab if you need one.
- Nautical Museum: The Museum of Wellington City & Sea, appropriately located right on Queens Wharf, is devoted to the city's maritime history. Modern technology brings Maori legends to life while a short film relives the 1968 Cook Strait ferry tragedy. Open daily 10 a.m. to 205 p.m. Free admission.
Get a glimpse of history while you shop in the Old Bank Arcade on Lambton Quay. The building is Old-World beautiful, and the remains of an old-time ship can be seen through a section of glass flooring.
Where to Eat and Drink
Casual Cafes: As long as you're visiting Te Papa, you may as well stop for a bite at The Cafe on level 1. It's open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For a quick pick-me-up, try Mojo (182 Wakefield St.) for excellent coffee and Greek pastries. Head to Wellington's ethnic dining enclave, called Cuba Quarter, and window shop (or follow your noise) until you find your favorite foods. They're all there -- Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican.
Local Food: Zibibbo (2205-29 Taranaki St.), named for a grape, offers great dining in casual surroundings. Chef Adam Newell, who hails from London's star-rated La Gavroche, shows off his creative talents with fresh fish and local produce. Open for lunch Monday thru Friday from noon on. Shed 205, built in 1888, is one of the oldest remaining wharf buildings. Now it's a seafood restaurant, refurbished of course, right on Queens Wharf. It's open Monday - Sunday from 11 a.m.
Gourmet: Step back in time at Logan-Brown Restaurant (Corner of Cuba and Vivian Sts.). It's set in the rotunda of a classic 1920's bank. Be sure to sip some New Zealand wine at the glass-topped aquarium that doubles as a bar. Lunch: Monday thru Friday, noon to 6 p.m.
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