Beehive & Five

Linda Lou Burton posting about Wellington, New Zealand from Little Rock, Arkansas – Here’s what I’d choose to do on my second full day in Wellington, after the bus tour overview and the birds-eye view from the helicopter. Wherever I go, I try to see things I couldn’t see anywhere else in the world. I’d like to see everything, but time and a creaky knee keep me reasonable. So I pick and choose the “most uniquest!”

Parliament and The Beehive

The “capitol building of the country” is always top of my list, and here, that is Parliament House, with its supporting building, the Beehive.

Parliament House, in use since 1918, is Edwardian neoclassical in style, a distinguished building that features New Zealand materials such as Takaka marble; marble columns line the front. The building contains the debating chamber, speaker’s office, and committee rooms. It is open to visitors most days, though access to the public galleries above the debating chamber are possible only when the house is sitting; a dress code applies.

The adjoining Beehive , completed in 1981, looks much like its clever name. Up top is the Cabinet room and the Prime Minister’s office; senior ministers are situated according to their ranking in Cabinet. Other facilities include function rooms, a banqueting hall, Pickwicks bar, Copperfields café, a theaterette used for press conferences, a gym, and a swimming pool! The country’s National Crisis Management Center is also located in this building. Guided tours available for both buildings; also educational visits for students.

Te Papa

Wildly popular Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand, six floors of cutting-edge interactive exhibits in an architectural wonder of a building. Its full name is Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which translates to “container of treasures;” it is considered the home of New Zealand stories. Over 30 million people have come through since it opened in 1998; Trip Advisor rates it one of the top 25 museums in the world; Lonely Planet “one of the top 500 places on earth!” Te Papa’s clever, contemporary and bicultural approach puts it in a league of its own; the blend of artifacts and modern art powerfully shows how the nation’s heritage is so essential to modern-day culture. A good starting place is the Mana Whenua exhibit about New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Māori. The museum is open every day but Christmas and entry is free.

I would not miss this!

Historic Red Cable Car

Never mind that the Red Cable Car is one of Wellington’s top tourist attractions; if I lived there I’d find a way to ride it at least once a week! Definitely an interesting way to get to work; imagine watching the seasons change from the seat of this charming vehicle, the cloud formations over the harbour, the sunset. A 5-minute ride leaving every 10-15 minutes from Lambton Quay, there is art too; murals at the terminal, active light installations in the tunnels, and a museum at the top. The Wellington Cable Car Museum is housed in the original winding house; two floors of exhibits tell the story of the cable car, in operation since 1902.

A must!


Zealandia is described as “a fully-fenced pest-proof urban island that is the closest thing you’ll find to being in New Zealand before humans arrived.” This pioneering eco-sanctuary just outside the city is an incredible slice of wilderness that turns back time on Wellington’s native environment. New Zealand was once an isolated land free from mammals, which meant native plants and birdlife flourished, including flightless kiwi. But with the arrival of humans came pests and predators, which caused the extinction of much wildlife and endangered many species. Two-hour tours with a guide; track down the rarest wildlife such as tuatara, prehistoric reptiles that have a real third eye, or giant weta that look like armored grasshoppers, or kererū, whose flapping wings sound like a helicopter! Night tours by torchlight might reveal glowworms, ruru owls, or the little spotted kiwi; end the evening with a cup of bushman’s tea.

A definite visit here; ranks high on the Most Uniquest scale.

WETA Workshop

Wētā are giant flightless crickets, some of the heaviest insects in the world; something you’d see at Zealandia. The WETA Workshop is not about crickets though. It’s a design and manufacturing facility that turns out props, costumes, and creature effects for such Oscar-winning movies as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, also The Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar, Blade Runner 2049 to name a few. If you are among the millions of fans who love these movies, you’ve seen their work onscreen. I’m not, but I appreciate the craftsmanship and ingenuity it takes to make things that look so other-worldly and grand. Several tours, 45-minutes or full-day; watch people “just doing their work” in jobs that kids would die for.

Unique, for sure!

Hannah’s Laneway and Cuba Street

Hannah’s Laneway is Wellington’s little food haven. It’s right in the middle of town between Leeds and Eva Streets. Stop at the shop window of Fix & Fogg, for peanut butter tastings and gourmet toast, it takes its name from the classic Around the World in 80 Days characters Detective Fix and Phileas Fogg. Their peanut butter does go around the world – they ship to Australia, Singapore, the USA, beyond. Stroll on down the lane to Golding’s Free Dive (bar), Leeds Street Bakery, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Lashings (brownies!), Fortune Favours (brewbar), Shepherd (restaurant), Pizza Pomodoro, Hanging Ditch. Hanging Ditch is a cocktail bar where the range of liquor is, really, hanging – their bottles of booze are suspended from the ceiling, dangling overhead on bungee cords which the bartenders pull down to pour. Great selections of local beer and wine here too.

Cuba Street is Wellington’s most colorful street; get splashed by the famous Bucket Fountain (yes, buckets); discover quirky cafes, vintage clothing, record stores, art galleries. End the night at Midnight Espresso, one of the last places open late for midnight feasts; the café counter is piled high with vegetarian frittatas, pies, sandwiches, cakes and slices, flamboyantly decorated with fruits and flowers; the vast short-order menu is written large on the café wall; liquid refreshments are freshly squeezed juices and high-octane Havana espresso, of course.

My kind of quirky unique! and