What’s a rugby widow to do in Wellington during the 2011 Rugby World Cup?

The wonderful Vix of Vegemitevix blog invited me to write a guest post on her blog as to what rugby widows could see and do in Wellington during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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Vix is a Kiwi expat Mum living in Hampshire, in the UK, (my home stomping ground!). I was absolutely delighted to write a post for her fabulous blog, which is always a great read. Pop on over to read her witty, thought provoking and entertaining posts and how she was ‘force-fed rugby as a child’! She writes about what to see and do in Auckland during the Rugby World Cup (that doesn’t involve much rugby watching) in her post, ‘New Zealand – More than Rugby, Racing and Beer‘.

As for wild and windy Wellington… Here’s just some of the many things to see and do…

Wellington is the venue for eight matches of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, including two quarter-finals matches and six pool matches, from 11 September to 9 October.

For the accompanying wives, families and girlfriends of the avid rugby lovers there is plenty to do other than watch the rugby (though of course any visit to New Zealand wouldn’t be entirely complete without watching at least one game in the good company of the locals!). If you’re not able to secure ring side seats then be sure to catch a game on a big screen at one of the numerous bars in Courtenay Place, or at Queen’s Wharf. The atmosphere is sure to be good, with black and white painted faces on the locals de rigueur.

Wellington is a compact, vibrant city, nestled in hills with stunning vistas at every turn. To get a birds eye view of the city take the cable car ride up from Lambton Quay to the Botanic Garden, or hike up Mount Victoria to the look-out. For those of a more energetic disposition, take a train ride to Khandallah and walk up to the top of Mt Kau Kau. Or if your budget permits take a whizz in a helicopter with ‘HELiPRO‘.

Wellington Waterfront

Being a harbour city there is a wealth of marine life and water sports literally within minutes of the city centre. Scuba diving is very popular on the south coast, in the marine reserve, where numerous wrecks make for fascinating dives. For those that prefer to keep themselves dry, the Seal Coast Safari provides a wonderful opportunity to tour the south coast from a four-wheel drive vehicle. From the city centre there are kayaks for hire at Fergs, near Queen’s Wharf, or take a scenic cruise on the harbour ferry that runs between Matiu Sommes Island and Days Bay. For the wild at heart, head down to Lyall Bay, where the surfers, wind-surfers and kite-surfers hang out. There’s a couple of wonderful cafes from which to watch the action, if you don’t feel like taking part. Check out the friendly atmosphere at the ‘Maranui‘ cafe, located on the beach at Lyall Bay, or pop in for a coffee at ‘Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli‘ or ‘Wild Surf‘ cafe (where you can also hire surf boards and wet suits).

Lyall Bay

If you have the use of a car for a day then enjoy a drive around the beautiful bays of Wellington’s rugged south coast and ‘Miramar peninsula‘ (home to Peter Jackon’s ‘Weta Cave‘). Stop in for a coffee and some ‘kai moana’ (sea food) on the BBQ at the Chocolate Fish Cafe in Shelly Bay or for an ice-cream in Scorching Bay.

Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to Zealandia, the world’s first mainland nature reserve. The predator proof fence keeps the introduced predators on the outside and allows New Zealand’s wonderful native bird species, reptiles, insects and amphibious species to thrive within the sanctuary. Further away, up the scenic Kapiti Coast, a visit to ‘Kapiti Island‘ is a breathtaking day-trip. Or simply take a walk along the waterfront, stopping to spot eleven-armed star fish, the occasional sting-ray, oyster catchers, shags and even diving gannets looking for a catch. Oriental Parade is a favourite promenade for locals and visitors. Hire a pair of roller-blades from Fergs or, for a giggle, hire a ‘Croc Bike‘ with friends.

In between all the action, stop at one of the many cafes, bars or restaurants that Wellington is so well known for. There’s the bohemian feel of Cuba Street and mall, where buskers and people of every age and place mingle together. Children play on the slide by the famous ‘bucket fountain’ sculpture, whilst parents sip coffee (or something stronger). Retail therapy in this part of Wellington ranges from ethnic and vintage to recycled boutique, records, second hand books and other treasures.

The premier retail zone is ‘Lambton Quay’ (otherwise known as ‘The Golden Mile’), with ‘The Old Bank Arcade’ and ‘Kirkcaldie and Stains‘.

Interconnecting the two is Manners and Willis Street. Wellington has got it covered when it comes to shopping (visit WellingtonNZ.com for details of vintage shops, markets and Wellington boutiques).

The Civic Square, home to the City Art Gallery, the Central Library, Town Hall and Capital E (great fun events for families and children) is a central hub in the heart of the city, with the ‘City to Sea’ walkway taking visitors on a scenic route to the lagoon on the waterfront. Check out ‘Capital E‘ and ‘GIVE IT A TRY!‘ in their RWC family fun event.

Other family friendly places to visit include Wellington Zoo, Te Papa – the Museum of New Zealand, and ‘The Museum of City and Sea‘.

Te Papa is ‘Laying Down the Challenge‘ during RWC season and visitors to the museum can learn more about the haka. Most people know a little about the haka, but few appreciate its full depth and significance. So visit Te Papa for a unique Māori experience.

Literary lovers may enjoy a walk in Thorndon and a visit to Katherine Mansfield House. Opera lovers will enjoy Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, being performed at the beautiful St James Theatre in the heart of Courtenay Place, Wellington’s entertainment district. Conservation enthusiasts can plant a tree in ‘The Great Living Legends Muck-In‘ on the Kapiti coast. Wine lovers can escape to Martinborough for a day trip (or better still a weekend away). And beer lovers will be impressed with Wellington’s array of bars offering a diverse range of beers. This year has seen the addition of two new beer venues – ‘The Hop Garden’ and ‘The Bruhaus’, joining the likes of The Malthouse, Hashigo Zake, Bar Edward and D4, in showcasing the best of craft beer (for more visit ‘RealBeer.co.nz‘).

There really is something for everyone in Wellington and whether you’re visiting for the rugby or not, there will be an amazing festival atmosphere on the waterfront with the ‘Rugby World Cup’ in town! Enjoy and be sure to say ‘hello’ if you spot me in a scrum on my way to the bar!


Wellington Rugby World Cup 2011 website

REAL New Zealand Festival Events in Wellington Region – celebrate all things New Zealand during Rugby World Cup 2011.

Education Programme for the 2011 Rugby World Cup – downloadable tools to enhance learning and inspire students across a range of subject areas and levels.