The Wellington Waterfront Walk takes in the best parts of the city seafront, starting from the northern end at Queens Wharf and rolling seamlessly into the Oriental Bay waterfront at the southern end. In between highlights include Civic Square, the vintage steam boat ‘Hikitia’, the Wellington Writers’ Walk, Te Papa museum, Waitangi Park and Chaffers Marina. If you have an hour to spare it’s well worth the stroll as you’ll get a nice feel for central Wellington by the time you’ve finished.
But all this exploration is dependent on one thing – the weather – and more particularly, the wind. It does blow in Wellington, sometimes savagely, but that shouldn’t put you off wandering the waterfront, even in a howling southerly. Jackets, hats, scarves – whatever it takes to keep warm – and you’ll get to see Wellington at its most volatile. There is a real beauty here with the seabirds soaring above, the waves crashing beneath the boardwalk and the yachts straining at their moorings.
Queens Wharf has several restaurants and cafes, and also the Museum of Wellington City and Sea. It’s well worth popping in to see the early development of the city and some of the astounding maritime feats achieved during this time. Next door the Plimmers Ark display shows the remains of an old vessel salvaged from the city waterfront development, pre-dating the 1855 Wellington earthquake.
Follow the walkway south where a detour over the City-to-Sea bridge crossing Jervois Quay takes you to Civic Square. This sheltered sunny spot is enclosed on three sides by the Michael Fowler Centre, the City Art Gallery and the Wellington Library. There are a number of intriguing sculptures dotted around and above the square.
Back out on the waterfront the Writers’ Walk adds a new dimension with quotes dotted amongst the rocks, concrete plinths and pools. These include iconic New Zealand writers like Katherine Mansfield, Patricia Grace, James K Baxter and Bill Manhire. The rather old ‘Hikitia’, which ties up beside the walkway, is an historic steam-powered crane boat from earlier days at the Wellington port. It is often open to view. Carry on to Te Papa museum, which is well worth a visit of its own, and on past Waitangi Park to Oriental Bay with its cafes and sunny beach.
The walk can be done either way and there is parking for your Wellington airport car rental at each end.