One hour from Wellington

Wellington, the small capital city with a big attitude, offers a wealth of day and night attractions, but if you explore a little further afield you will discover some of New Zealand's real gems, from Lord of the Rings film locations to vineyards and fur seals.

Wellington, the small capital city with a big attitude, offers a wealth of day and night attractions, but if you explore a little further afield you will discover some of New Zealand's real gems, from Lord of the Rings film locations to vineyards and fur seals.

Martinborough

This old-fashioned colonial village is at the centre of 400 acres of vineyards. Sample the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines that the region is renowned for at more than 20 boutique wineries, which surround the sunny village. Wine trails and tastings are available at the vineyards and you can also take a tour of the new wine centre in Martinborough village.
By car: take the SH2 to Featherston, then turn off for Martinborough.
By train: : TranzMetro trains from Wellington link with the Wairarapa Coachline buses.

Kapiti Coast & Island

Kapiti Coast is known as the city's coastal playground and has extensive golden sandy beaches. Kapiti Island, four miles off the West Coast, is a wildlife sanctuary where you can see kiwi, eel and native trees. To visit the island on one of the regular authorised boat trips, you need a permit from the Department of Conservation in Wellington or the Visitor Information Centre.
By car: follow the SH1 north of Wellington.
By train: : trains stop at Paraparaumu for the Kapiti Marine Charter or Kapiti Tours Ltd boats.

Kaitoke Regional Park

Head here for outdoor pursuits, from swimming, white-water rafting and camping to picnicking and walking. Kaitoke was one of the locations near Wellington used to depict Tolkien's landscape of Rivendell. Stop off on the way and check out Upper Hutt city, the setting for Isengard and the River Anduin.
By car: follow the SH2 north from Wellington.
By train: : the main line goes from Wellington to Masterton, stopping at Upper Hutt.

Cape Palliser

This is home to the largest breeding colony of fur seals in the North Island as well as the majestic Putangirua Pinnacles, which were formed 120,000 years ago by heavy rain eroding a gravel deposit. Catch a glimpse of the South Island from the North Island's most southerly point. For spectacular views of the coast and the South Island, climb 250 steps to the top of Cape Palliser lighthouse.
By car: follow the SH2 to Featherston, then take Lake Ferry Road, following signs for Ngawi. Keep on the coastal road until Cape Palliser.

National Wildlife Centre, Mount Bruce Set among 150 acres of native forest, the centre is home to endangered species of native wildlife, especially birds. Large aviaries and reserves feature rare species including kiwi, tuatara (a lizard-like reptile) and the takahe (a prehistoric-looking purple bird). Stop off in Masterton and visit the Cavelands Glow-worm Caves.
By bus: Tranzit Coachlines runs tours from Wellington.

Greytown

Greytown, in the pretty Wairarapa region, is best known for its antiques and art and craft shops and roadside cafes. Soak up the historic village atmosphere and visit the Cobblestones Museum with its collection of memorabilia from settler days. Pick up a heritage trail brochure from the tourist office for a self-guided historic walk. Adrenalin junkies will have a field day at The Adventure Centre, which offers everything from kayaking to abseiling and caving.
By car: take the SH2 north from Wellington.

Bridge the World (0870-444 7474 or visit www.bridgetheworld.com) offers return flights to Wellington via Los Angeles on Air New Zealand from £799 per person. Hotel accommodation starts from £22 per person at Thorndon House. Budget Rent A Car (00 64 4802 4548; www.budget.co.nz) offers car hire from £126 for a week, or £13 per day for any weekend (available for a limited time only – check on website). For more information check the Tourism New Zealand website: www.purenz.com or call the premium information line on 09069 10 10 10

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