It's always a good idea to hit the streets and take in the sights when you arrive in a new city, but when you are in one the size of Wellington, there is only so much you can cover on foot.
On his visit to Wellington, Jason Dundas joined up with Wellington Rover Tours. They have walking tours, van tours or, the one Jason chose, bicycle tours.
It's a good way to take in everything, including the pretty houses that look like they're straight out of San Francisco. Settlers from North America in the 1850s and 1860s built them from kits and used the designs as templates for more. The wooden buildings absorb the energy of earthquakes far better than stone or brick buildings would.
When those first settlers from the United Kingdom arrived, they found nothing but swamp and most of them wanted to return home but the journey would've taken three months, so they stayed and built it up.
Courteney Place, now Wellington's entertainment district, is where the old shoreline used to be. At the Basin Reserve you will see the world's fourth-oldest test cricket venue. Once a lake, in 1840 an earthquake lifted the land by 2m out of the water.
Like San Francisco, Wellington has its fair share of hills. Mt Victoria at 192m has terrific views of the city, the harbour and ocean off the south coast. It's part of Wellington's green belt and has 425 hectares of park and forest reserve wrapping around the city. It has some pretty testing bike trails running straight down the face of the mountain. It could be a good idea to leave those to the professionals!
Something easier is to follow the coastline of Houghton Bay, the south coast spot where oceans meet. It's a favoured spot for surfing, diving, fishing or just enjoying the raw and rugged coastline, as well as the views across the Marlborough Sounds and the Kaikoura Range. Dusk is particularly lovely and you may spot some dolphins.
By contrast, Oriental Bay on the edge of the CBD can be pretty hectic. It has Wellington's most expensive real estate and looks a lot like Monaco, with houses clinging to the hillside.
If, like many people, you thought New Zealand's South Island has the monopoly on the country's beauty, head to the North Island and be in for an absolute treat.
Wellington, New Zealand's capital.
Wellington Rover Tours has five-hour mountain bike tours for around $155 for adults and $100 for children. Lunch, drinks, storytelling guide and helmet are included. They operate every day from 9.30am.
Air New Zealand has flights to Wellington.
- Melbourne and Brisbane
- Sydney $316
- Adelaide $419
- Perth $602
Prices correct at March 12, 2009.
For further information
Wellington Rover Tours
PO Box 11-167
Ph: +64 2 142 6211
Fax: +64 4 973 3998
Read ninemsn Travel's Insider's Guide to North Island NZ
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