1 - Running the country
The Parliament Buildings of New Zealand consist of three very different buildings. The Parliament House is neo-classical, the Parliamentary Library is Victorian gothic, and the Beehive is just unique! Your tour of these buildings will take you into the heart of the Government; the Debating Chamber, the Grand Hall, the Banquet Hall and many other places. There are a number of tours depending on how much time you have. Assisting the politicians in running the country are the Police and they have a Museum nearby at Porirua. This museum displays a collection of items relating to the Police and crimes of the past. Interactive exhibits assist visitors of all ages in educating about policing and criminal behaviour. The Government Building is the former seat of Government, built in 1876, and made of kauri timber. It is the world's largest wooden office building but is designed to look like an Italian stone Palace.
2 - Honouring the Past
The Great War Exhibition celebrates WWI with an array of scenes from the war. A 10-tonne Tank and an 11-tonne gun are part of the sets, together with 5000 tiny figures used in another scene. Hundreds of photos are also displayed to raise awareness of the hardship that soldiers went through in the Great War. This exhibition is within the Pukeahu National War Memorial that remembers the 30,000 New Zealanders that died in the war, as well as the 300,000 that served. Centre-place in the Memorial is the Carillon, a huge 51-metre high musical bell tower that regularly sends a melody out through the city. At the base of the Carillon stands the Hall of Memories, a chapel dedicated to the memory of those who died. In the front is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to remember those who did not come home. The final memorial is a bronze statue of a Man with a Donkey, a tribute to the Medical staff, ambulance drivers and stretcher-bearers who served in the wars.
While you are dwelling on history, drop into the National Archives and view the three iconic documents that are fundamental to Aotearoa/ New Zealand. These are the 1835 Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand; the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition.
In Petone, the Settlers Museum has a favourite display allowing visitors to experience the transportation suffered by the majority of the early settlers that came to New Zealand. They also have other exhibits on local history.
Visit the National Museum at Wellington- Te Papa Tongarewa, and learn about the world that we live in. Their exhibits include a 'Mountains to the Sea', which shows New Zealand's flora and fauna that is unique to this part of the world- the Kiwi, Tuatara and the Kauri to name the most well-known. There is an 'Earthquake House', and an interactive 'Bush City'. Learn more about Maori culture and enjoy the beautiful songs of our native birds, visit a glow-worm cave, and see some of our extinct creatures. There is a display about passports and kiwi-ana, the uniquely New Zealand items that make our country so individual.
Then for something totally different about the world today visit the Weta Cave. Learn about the movie world and the incredible creativity of the people who work on sets today. There are tours around the workshops (not in them) and you to see props from movies like King Kong, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, as well as miniature worlds such as The Thunderbirds. The mini-museum of life-size sculptures is free.
The Ocean Bay Marine Education Centre is another amazing place to learn about the world around us. All sorts of marine creatures are in the collection on display here with a focus on animals and plants that come straight from Cook Strait at the centre's front door.
4 - Discovering the City
Take the Cable Car to Kelburn, suburb overlooking the city, as other visitors have been doing for more than a hundred years. A five-minute ride takes you from the bustle of the city centre to the lookout, where you can find a number of things to do. The Cable Car Museum should be your first stop; it is close to the Cable Car terminal. It presents the history of the Cable Car and original machinery that once worked to bring people up the hill.
The Botanic Gardens, covering 25 Ha have a Pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas Tree) tile path down to the Parliament Buildings, a downhill walk of about 40 minutes. Enjoy the native trees as well as exotic plantings, and floral displays. The Space Centre at Carter Observatory is 2 minutes from the top of the Cable Car and is a great place to learn about the planets, the stars and the enormity of the universe.
Zealandia is an award-winning eco-tourist conservation attraction and is reached via a free shuttle from the top of the Cable Car. It provides 225 Ha sanctuary and is responsible for establishing 18 species back into this area. Plants, lizards, frogs and amphibians are all here, but the loveliest is the birds. See the beautiful Tui, the Korero pigeon that whistles through the air as it flies, and the Takahe once considered extinct. New Zealand has a large number of birds that are endemic- not found anywhere else.
The Waterfront has a novel attraction. Go for a wander along the seashore and find the poetry blocks. A number of other sculptures are dotted around as well. A Wind Sculpture walk, best viewed on a windy day is accessed from Evans Bay Marina. Another Sculpture Walk starts at Bunny street with a piece called Seismic and three km and 17 sculptures later it finishes with Nga Kina.
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