Although Wellington is the seat of government there is nothing pompous or stuffy about the New Zealand capital which is now a global film-making centre and a showpiece of Kiwi gastronomy. Where else appeals equally to Middle Earth fanatics, craft beer aficionados and hipster foodies? Whether you want to learn more about Maori culture at Te Papa Tongarewa, pay homage to the writer Katherine Mansfield (her house is open to the public), sample cutting-edge cuisine or try some hard-core mountain biking, it’s all here. While the city has embraced the latest of everything – food, fashion and technology – it retains much of its 19th Century English charm, with botanic gardens and restored timber villas.
Who goes there: Seabourn, Holland America Line, P&0 Cruses, Regent Seven Seas, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Crystal Cruises, Oceania, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line.
Cruisers like: Begin your tour at Te Papa Tongarewa which contains a comprehensive collection of Maori artefacts, colonial art, historical memorabilia and state-of-the-art interactive displays. Then venture out to the Weta Studios which has worked on films such as Avatar, The Lord of the Rings and Thunderbirds Are Go. For an overview of the city board the historic Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay – the funicular train climbs up to picturesque Kelburn. Wellington also offers some of New Zealand’s hippest bars, restaurants and cafes. And don’t forget the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Guided tours are available – or just explore the city for yourself.
Best for: Couples, families with young children, mature cruisers, craft beer fanatics, Lord of the Rings fans, food lovers, sporty types and students of Maori culture.
Getting around: Most cruise ships dock at Aotea Quay which is ten minutes’ from the city. Shuttle buses and taxis are available. Smaller ships dock at Queen’s Wharf Terminal, which is right next to downtown. Explore Wellington on foot or bicycle.