Speaking as a completely biased person, who just spent five months at Victoria University of Wellington is the obvious first choice for me when it comes to New Zealand cities. This capital has everything from hiking trails to nightclubs. However, in case you need more convincing here are the top ten reasons why Wellington is the perfect city to study abroad.
1. Mount Victoria
I took a lot of pictures of breath taking views during my time in New Zealand but my favourite ones are the ones I took from the summit of Mount Vic. Whether it was on my first day, the day I woke up early to see the sunrise, or two days ago when I walked to the top to see the sunset, the views you can see from Mount Victoria never disappoint.
2. Cuba Street
I went to Cuba Street nearly every day. Great restaurants, bars, and shops Cuba Street is a central hub for Wellington. I also went there to watch my friends get tattoos and to listen to the various buskers. During my semester Cuba Street’s iconic bucket fountain was taken away and replaced so I had to go and compare the new version to the old. From 5 to 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights Cuba Street is also home to the night market. The night market is a collection of different food trucks and the best place to have dinner.
3. Ekim Burger
All the food in Wellington is good. I never had a bad meal but obviously I have my favourite restaurant. Ekim, Mike the owner’s name backwards, has the best burgers in town. This unique set up that has reasonably priced meals, a friendly atmosphere, and always plays the best music is a good enough reason to study abroad in Wellington. I recommend getting the “Big John”.
4. Courtney Place
Cuba Street is the street for the bars while Courtney Place is famous for the clubs. Some of the best ones to check out and dance the night away at are The Establishment, El Horno, and Electric Avenue. However, if a night on the town isn’t your thing Courtney is still a worthwhile place to visit. The street offers a cinema, restaurants, and multiple shops. If you’re missing home and craving coffee there is even a Starbucks.
5. The Skyline Walk
If you’re looking for a day tramp (hike) but don’t want to venture too far out of the city then all you need to do is take the train to Johnsonville to embark on five hour hike across Wellington’s skyline. Transportation costs about as little as $5 and aside from the views of Wellington the best part is at the end of the hike you only have to take a short 10 minute bus ride back into the city.
6. The Botanical Gardens
Wellington is known for its beautiful botanical gardens, which cover more than 26 hectares of land. The gardens offer a variety of different walks that are all about a free 40-minute journey from the top down to the city. Go feed the ducks at the duck pond.
7. The Cable Car
112 years in business. If you have ever Googled Wellington then you have seen an image of the cable car. It’s only $2 for a one-way trip the cable car takes you from the hustle and bustle of Wellington city to the peaceful botanical gardens. If you are lucky enough to live at one of the Salamanca houses then the cable car will become a blessing eliminating the struggle of carrying your groceries up the dreaded Dixon steps.
8. Public Transportation
As the county’s capital Wellington is very accessible. For shorter day trips you can travel by train, taxi, or bus or if you wish to go somewhere further away then there is also the airport to consider. The ferry going to the South Island leaves right from the harbour.
9. The Harbour
Some of my favourite afternoons where spent at the Wellington Harbour. Whether you spend your afternoons at the beanbag chairs, at the Te Papa museum, or in the water there is always something to do at the waterfront. In the summer time there are popup stores and music for sala dancing and in the winter I saw an ice skating rink. On Sundays from 8am to 2pm the harbour hosts the Farmer’s Market which is something I definitely recommend going to. A little tip: the earlier you get there the better the produce.
10. Westpac Stadium
During my semester I went to Westpac twice. Once for a U20 Fifa cup game and once for a Hurricanes’ rugby match (hosted by TEAN). Westpac is home to a variety of different sporting events and if you can get tickets then I highly recommend the short walk over there.
Kirsty Cowie is a Global Ambassador and student at The Pennsylvania State University. She recently returned from her semester studying abroad with TEAN in Wellington, New Zealand.