Reader Joe writes:
I am an American living in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. I moved here in February of this year and in the last three months, I've been to the theatre, frequented many of the film art-houses in the area, joined the Wellington Film Society, enjoyed some of the best coffee in my life (Kiwis have a big passion for good coffee), went paua diving, swam with dolphins, seen and hung out with a number of bands, hiked through gorgeous mountains, saw a man perform ballet with a large orange excavator crane (sounds strange but was incredible), enjoyed top notch cuisine, seen amazing exhibitions of art, witnessed a public debate about mining protected lands, had tea with public officials, and so much more.
It's a city with a lot of energy and even more creativity. People here are always looking for something new and different, which leads to a heap of indescribable surprises and some brilliant discoveries as well. Since the number of people is small (compared to NYC) you get to interact, quite often, with people who you may admire such as actors, politicians, artists and writers. Being close to Weta (SFX studio responsible for Lord of the Rings and Avatar) I regularly have a few pints with a fellow who has done special effects on several movies I grew up loving. We swap favorite films, drink a few pints and then walk home.
For me, Wellington is great because you get genuine interaction with quality people, all of them with their finger "on the pulse" and having zero pretension. Being a carpenter here gets the same reaction as being a movie star. Wellington has all the cultural benefits of a large city while still maintaining a close, town-like feel.
The public transport is easy, the water tastes great, and the scenery is to die for. It's a fully functional metropolitan area with so much to offer from culture to nightlife and from education to adventure. You can't beat the views and it doesn't break the bank to live here. Wellington has my vote.