Sightseeing in New Zealand: A Day in Wellington with John's Hop On Hop Off City Tour - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sightseeing in New Zealand: A Day in Wellington with John's Hop On Hop Off City Tour

Wellington is New Zealand's capital and the country's third largest city. It is also home to the famous movie director Peter Jackson, and has gain increased attention from the international community after he filmed parts of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in the city. These movies were also very much in focus during our trip around the city with John's Hop On Hop Off City Tour

View from Mt. Victoria Lookout
Actually, our driver's name wasn't John, but Todd. He could tell us that his main job was being an actor, and that he had starred in the third Lord of the Rings movie. He showed us the scene he was in, and that was one of the most epic scenes of the movie if you ask me. Can you imagine having a Harad Leader as your bus driver for the day? Pretty awesome! And he could of course tell us some interesting stories from his experience working with the movie production.
Our bus driver showed us his picture from the movie set where he played the role of a Haradim leader

Thanks to Todd for sharing his interesting experiences and stories!
Todd took us through the eastern suburb of Miramar known among the locals as Wellywood. This is where Peter Jackson is producing many of his famous movies. A lot of the old houses and warehouses in the area has been purchased by Jackson, and are being used for film production. 

This is also where you find Peter Jackson's digital visual effects company Weta Digital, and their Weta Cave Workshop! Unfortunately, while traveling together with other family members it is not always that people are interested in seeing the same things. Our stop at the Weta Cave was thus unfortunately limited to a quick peek from the outside of the building.

The entrance to the Weta Cave
Outside the Weta cave there are three troll statues that you might recognize from The Hobbit. Did you know that trolls are mythical creatures from Norwegian fairytales? People used to believe that trolls were nocturnal creatures living deep in the forest. The trolls would only come out during night to hunt for humans or other living creatures. They are however not that smart, and would turn into stone if hit by sunlight. 
(For a modern version of the Norwegian trolls, check out the movie Trollhunter.)

Couldn't resist the opportunity..

The second part of the trip took us back to the city center and up on the hills on the other side. This is where you find Wellington's oldest house known as William Wallis Cottage, a building that dates back to 1858. Other sights we passed by was the 110-year-old old Wellington Cable Car and the former cathedral known as Old St. Paul's.
William Wallis Cottage
Old Saint Paul's

Te Papa Museum
One of the last stops on the tour was New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa. Believe it or not, it is 100% free to go inside! If you have the time this is definitely one of the places you shouldn't miss while in Wellington.
Te Papa
The museum is divided into 5 different sections: Art, History, Pacific, Māori, and Natural Environment. This is a place where you can learn about New Zealand's ecology and the effect of invasive species and agriculture on the country's native animals. The museum can also teach you part of Maori history and culture.

Te Papa's colossal squid
After visiting the museum you have the opportunity to catch the bus again, or perhaps spend some time in the city centre. These days you can keep an eye out for painted eggs in New Zealand's city streets; a large number of them are spread around the city for us to see. If you find an egg that you like so much that you'd like to take it home you have the opportunity to place a bid at
The money raised by this projects goes to the national children's hospital Stargate.

And if you want to visit the place in town where things happen then Cuba street might be the place to be. Apparently this street was named after a boat, so it's not like there are a lot of Cubans here. A lively street where musicians are playing, and you also find a night market here every Thursday and Friday.
The Cuba Street

If you are staying a day in Wellington and want to get around the city without too much hassle then the hop on hop off city tour is a good alternative. You should be aware that unlike other hop on tours you'll be driving in a van, which is due to the narrow roads the bus has to drive on to get around in the outskirts of the town. This is a small city, so there is also a limited number of departures each day. Still, with a really cool driver who knows anything worth knowing about Wellington and its film industry you're guaranteed a memorable trip around town.!

Other pages:
John's Hop On Hop Off City Tour

All blogposts from New Zealand

Hotel Booking:

Hotels in Wellington
Hotels in Picton

Traveling from Christchurch to Wellington via Picton
One way to travel from Christchurch to Wellington is by driving to a small town called Picton on the northern edge of New Zealand's southern island and catch a ferry to Wellington from there. The drive to Picton takes about five hours if you travel none-stop, but there are of course places along the way where you might want to take a break or two.
About half-way to Picton the road takes you down to the ocean, and you can enjoy the beautiful sight of the endless water and the steep mountains. There are also many animals to see along the way, and the coolest part of our road trip was definitely getting close contact with a group of sea lions.

The Edwin Fox Maritime Museum in Picton
If you are spending a day or two in Picton you might be interested in visiting the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum situated by the city's harbor. This museum tells the amazing story about the ship Edwin Fox, the world's oldest surviving merchant sailing ship. After she was built in Calcutta in 1853 she was used for a wide range of purposes such as carrying troops during the Crimean War, and later she also carried prisoners from Britain to Australia. On her older days she was used as a floating freezer hulk in New Zealand, and she first came to Picton in 1897 where she was utilized as a coal store hulk.

Earthquake recovery in Christchurch

Our first stop in New Zealand was Christchurch, a small city on NZ's southern island. Back in 2011 the city experienced a terrible earthquake (on February 22, under a month before the earthquake in Japan), and the place is still recovering from the inflicted damage. Things are however moving forward, and Lonely Planet even rated Christchurch as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2013.

Thanks to Spellbound for the picture!
The Spellbound Waitomo Glowworm Cave

New Zealand is known worldwide for its magnificent nature, and one of the unique natural experiences you can make while in the country is a visit to the famous glowworm caves in Waitomo. Waitomo is a Māori word that means "water enters", and in the area you'll find many caves that has been formed by the rivers digging into the ground made of limestone.

Photo credit: Spellbound Glowworm and Cave Tours

Visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata

The Hobbiton movie set is part of a 1250 acre sheep farm outside of Matamata, and the place is a must-visit for anyone with a slight interest in Tolkien's Middle Earth Universe. It is also the movie set to visit for people who generally don't like movie sets, simply because the surroundings are so amazingly beautiful and extraordinary that you wouldn't want to miss them.

Bungee Jumping from the Auckland Harbour Bridge

New Zealand is definitely a country to visit if you're interested in trying out extreme sports, as the country is known worldwide for its adventure tourism activities. If you still have not had the chance to try bungee(/bungy) jumping you have the opportunity to make your first jump at the place where it all started; the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Or at least, this is where you find the world's first organized commercial bungee jumping company, AJ Hackett Bungy. The man behind the company was AJ Hacket, who made his first amateur jump back in 1986. His company is still going strong, offering bungee jumping and bridge climbing to anybody up for a real challenge.

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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