Wellington, New Zealand's capital city, in the 1980's was fun with numerous trendy nightspots, a home-away-from home. Now, it's got bigger and better.  Lonely Planet dubs it the Coolest Little Capital...

Te Papa, is New Zealand’s national museum, renowned for being bi-cultural, innovative, and fun. In central Wellington you’re rarely more than 20 minutes’ walk.. Public transport stops close to the museum, and we’re 15 minutes’ drive from the airport. It is an iconic museum, fascinating, interactive telling of history in new and exciting ways. I spent an interesting day there, but I could easily have stayed for longer.

Another icon is the Wellington Cable Car, a funicular railway, running from Lambton Quay to Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city. I used to take the cable car all the time when I was studying in Wellington. It is bright red and unmissable, silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky. It was a fine day, you could see for miles, out to the ocean and away to the distant green hills.

The Cable Car Museum was opened in 2000. Located in the original winding house with a new extension completed in 2006, it houses original and restored cars and later a bell from the San Francisco Cable Car was displayed.

Cuba Street is a melting pot of buskers, cute little out-of-the-way places that you just happened on, planned street graffiti-filled alleyways, art galleries, and community exhibition spaces. Atmospheric and home to bohemian chic, Cuba Quarter is a culinary, foodie hotspot, from the colourfully clothed to jammin' musicians; it's a happening place.  Lower Cuba Street is a fascinating area with many eateries, cafes and bars.  Funky, offbeat, full of colour, vintage haven, artists and art galleries in profusion.

Wellington waterfront is superbly walkable. Te Raukura Wharewaka Function Centre dominates the the scene.  The impressive Function Centre, an award winning building and fully serviced functions is a venue for exhibitions, dinners, banquet and cocktail events.  Outside, at the Karaka Café relax on the terraced grassed areas on Whairepo Lagoon, perfect for drinking champers watching the sun go down, which we did. It was a wonderful day in Wellington and the setting sun was just right to enjoy the ambience, beautiful indoor environment and the outside bistro dining.  The Wharewaka (waka house) is viewable from all sides, and open on occasion to the public during the day.

The TSB Arena, Queens Wharf, is home to the fascinating, wonderful World of Wearable Art Show, when it is in town. It is a two-hour spectacular performance, shown annually in Wellington.  The range of garments produced for the event is simply stunning, creating the intermix of fashion and art.  It somehow reminded me in part of the Face Off reality show, combined with the innovative fashion of the Carnival in Venice, the high-energy colour of Cirque Du Soleil, and bringing it to the next level.  Sign-me up for tickets next year please.

Lambton Quay is the hub of shopping in Wellington. With The Beehive, the common name for the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings; the Cake Tin (Westpac Stadium, an unofficial moniker), cafes, restaurants, interesting sculpture, bars, walking, skating and more.  The other day, I heard that there were craft brewers in Wellington. Bring it on. Premium beer and quality food are literally made for each other, the Fork & Brewer is an ideal venue to showcase both, as there were 40 beers on tap.  From cloudy German-style wheat beers to bright golden Pilsners to fragrant hoppy pales to dark decadent stouts, the Fork & Brewer has a beer for pretty much everyone .... reminded me of Ghent, Belgium, which is a serious beer destination... for example, the small beer keller along the central canal that boasted '300 beers' ... every one of those beers had its own personalised glass... can only remember the first three (!)

Just recently, I'd heard of Wellington Movie Tours - the ultimate way to experience Wellington, perhaps? To the Lord Of The Rings movie fans, it's all go. The Home of “Rivendell”; where Gandalf meets Saruman at Isengard; that Aragorn drifts ashore here after his battle, and more besides... when do we go?  It has fantastic promise, but one proviso: Not suitable for wheelchairs, walkers or people of limited mobility (see: stroke)… perhaps next time. One iconic, must see, place that is the drawcard to all LOTR fans.... has to be the Weta Cave and Workshop, in the nearby suburb of Miramar; and is a short, fun tour if you have a few hours to spare.

Wellington has grown up heaps and is deservedly a world destination. The coolest little capital!