Topsy Turvy

Linda Lou Burton posting about Wellington, New Zealand from Little Rock, Arkansas – I don’t know how the jet-setters do it. Crossing the International Dateline east to west on my now defunct RTW Capital City Quest, I’d lose an entire day. Crossing the Equator, I’d change hemispheres, and therefore, seasons. It may feel like 106 in Little Rock today, but it’s winter in Wellington! Though winter there isn’t too bad – 54 degrees with a breeze today; 100% chance of rain.

Pago Pago, American Samoa is the southernmost US capital city, but Wellington, New Zealand is the southernmost capital city in the entire world. It is also the most remote capital city, the farthest from any other capital. Now that’s a noteworthy distinction, and puts it at the top of my “Capital City Superlatives” list.

Here are some basics about Wellington: its urban land area is 171 sq miles, the metro area 536, with an elevation of 0 at the waterfront and 1,624 in the hills. It isn’t New Zealand’s largest city, population-wise, Auckland is. Wellington’s urban population is 215,400, with a metro population of 424,200. That’s comparable to the US capital cities of Little Rock, say, or Madison, Wisconsin. The population breakdown shows about 72% of Wellingtonians are of European ethnicity; 15% Asian, 14% Maori, 10% various Pacific peoples, and the remainder Middle Eastern, Latin, African, and other.

Wellington has been capital of New Zealand since 1865, and sits at the south end of the north island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Because of its location in the Roaring Forties – strong westerly winds caused by air being displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole – it is considered the world’s windiest city, giving it the nickname Windy Welly.

It has a few other catchy names too – in 2016 the Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Wellington 12th Most Livable City in the World; in 2018 Deutsche Bank ranked it first in the world for both livability and non-pollution (those winds help, I suppose!). And Lonely Planet dubbed it the Coolest Little Capital in the World, pretty snazzy, I’d say.

But why am I talking? Those who promote New Zealand for a living have the best websites I’ve ever seen, so let’s read up, no mask needed for that. Straight from the horse’s mouth, will guide you not only in Wellington, but over all of New Zealand, with focus on any city of your choice; tells everything you’ll want to know about the capital city with gorgeous pictures and fast-paced videos.

Here are a few things I shamelessly lifted from their sites, hoping to promote the area, and wishing I were there.

Things To Do in Wellington

Surrounded by nature and fueled by creative energy, Wellington is a compact city with a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine. Fuel your visit with strong coffee and world-class craft beer – Wellingtonians are masters of casual dining, with plenty of great restaurants, night markets and food trucks.

Relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach and delve into the many museums, art galleries and theatre shows that make up the city’s pulsing cultural scene. If you’re into the outdoors, Wellington has action-packed adventure activities like mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as beautiful walks around the harbour and surrounding hills. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city. On the waterfront itself you’ll find New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa, meaning ‘our place,’ one of the best interactive museums in the world.

Or if you just want a quickie two-minute tour, watch this video!

As for me and my make-believe COVID-19-free RTW journey, I got up at 7 AM on Saturday July 18, flew from Pago Pago to Apia to Auckland to Wellington in a sleepless mad rush of plane changes and time changes and weather changes and culture changes, and arrived at my hotel at 9 AM Wellington time on Monday July 20. In true jet-setter style, I’m booked in an executive suite at the Intercontinental, 14th floor, waterfront view, where I hunker down, gaze across the bay, and try to figure out which end is up.

Tomorrow I’ll be right side up again.