Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is the ideal starting point to discover the country and its culture. Thanks to its combination of a small size and a rich heritage, the city will manage both to attract you and to remain in your heart.
Like any self-respecting capital city, Wellington has a vast range of museums to offer to surprise and delight anybody from the youngest to the oldest, especially if you're traveling as a family! Ideally, your exploration of the capital (and the culture of New Zealand) should start with the country's finest museum, the world-famous Te Papa. Free, fun, educational, historic: adjectives are not enough to describe the quality of this unique place, which talks about Maori history as well as the technological and sociological developments that New Zealand has undergone since the arrival of the first Europeans. It deserves at least half a day of your time in its own right.
If your thirst for culture still isn't satisfied, go along the waterfront and explore the sports museum or the city museum: the exhibits, both the permanent exhibits and the temporary ones, are always interesting and worth going out of your way for. The police and tram museums focus more on individual stories, but they're always good fun and will entertain the little ones, while a visit to the Parliament is a must-see for adults! Finally, movie lovers will be in Seventh Heaven when they head to Weta Cave, where they will find masks of the cast from Lord of the Rings!
During your journey across New Zealand, you will quickly discover that nightlife varies widely between different locations, ranging from extremely lively (Queenstown, Dunedin) through to non-existent (90% of South Island). Wellington is luck enough to have high-quality venues to have fun, go out, drink, listen to good music and meet the locals, who are always willing to chat and take you out to one of the craziest parties in your life.
All this nightlife is focused on two streets: Cuba Street and Courtenay Place. The first is more eclectic and varied, and there are as many little restaurants and bakeries as there are bars and pubs. The first half of the street, on the Waterfront side, is about taking things easy as much as it is about partying, while the other part of the street is aimed at those who are looking for somewhere quiet where they can talk during the latter part of the evening.
Courtenay Place, on the other hand, is made for party animals, those who like going clubbing and dancing, switching between venues every half hour. The two streets complement each other just as much as they differ, and in general terms, both are pretty safe places to be. That doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention - just like anywhere else, don't tempt fate, especially once it gets late!