Jeff Fleisher

Correspondent

  • Chicago, Illinois, USA

Jeff Fleischer is a correspondent who lives in Chicago and covers Fiji, Sydney, and three New Zealand destinations — Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington — for Forbes Travel Guide. In 2008, Fleischer conducted research as an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow in the Oceania region for a forthcoming book on climate change. He is also the author of “The Latest Craze: A Brief History of Mass Hysterias.” As a journalist, Fleischer has written for publications including Mother Jones, The Sydney Morning Herald, The New Republic, National Geographic Traveler, Chicagoland’s Daily Herald, Chicago magazine and Mental Floss.

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  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What are the best ways to see wildlife in Wellington?

    It’s not difficult to see unique wildlife in Wellington, since it’s so close to the mountains and water.  Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend the ZEALANDIA wildlife sanctuary in the suburb of Karori offers a predator-free environment for native birds, and is worth a visit. If you have more time, Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbor is an entire island sanctuary accessible by ferry, where you can spend the day hiking among parrots and songbirds with few other people around to interrupt. Both also house tuatara, unusual reptiles that usually live only on islands in the far south of the country. New Zealand fur seals can usually be found on the black-sand beaches near the southern edge of the city, and you can watch them from a safe distance.  
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What is the best thing to bring home from Wellington?

    If you’re pondering the ideal souvenir to bring home from Wellington, Forbes Travel Guide’s editors recommend a piece of native jewelry. Nearly everyone in New Zealand wears Maori jewelry of some kind around their neck, and Wellington has dozens of places to buy it. Jewelry stores, souvenir shops and merchants at city markets will all offer a variety of materials, sizes, and shapes. Popular materials include jade, luminescent para shell (the shell of a species of abalone), bone, or other gemstones, and some shops allow you to carve your own, so there are lots of choices depending on your taste and budget. Similar Maori symbols are also common in word carvings, jade sculptures and ceramics, which can all be found in any number of Wellington shops and make beautiful home decor.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What are the five best Wellington food experiences?

    You’ll find Wellington filled with delicious food experiences, from pub food and coffee to beers and ethnic fare. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best Wellington food experiences.
     
    1. Mixed Vegetarian Kebab. Wellington is full of kebab shops for late-night or on-the-go dining. Most offer this regional specialty you won't find in Auckland, with falafel, mujvar, carrot fritters and zucchini fritters in a huge pita, with your choice of toppings and sauces.
     
    2. Flat White. Wellington's cafe scene is often credited with perfecting the flat white — an espresso and milk drink similar to a latte. The honor of “best flat white” changes cafes constantly, as baristas take part in regular competitions, but you can't go wrong anywhere. 
     
    3. A Pint at the Pub.  It would be a shame to miss out on the authentic pub experience while you’re in Wellington. The Backbencher is a famous pub across from Parliament that serves up pints, politically themed fare like kumara chips and fried whitefish along with their famous puppets caricatures of political figures.
     
    4. Whittaker's Chocolate. Founded in 1896, this chocolatier in nearby Porirua sells its many varieties of chocolate throughout Wellington, and deserves its institution status. Try the milk chocolate with kiwifruit pieces, or the dark chocolate with macadamia nuts.
     
    5. Fresh Kiwifruit. One of the best (and simplest) food experiences anywhere in New Zealand is to try all three varieties of kiwifruit - the familiar green, plus the sweeter yellow, and the grape-size kiwi berries — while they're fresh. Most fruit markets or grocers in Wellington will have them all in season.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    Where is the best nightlife in Wellington?

    If you’re looking for the best nightlife in Wellington, head for the city’s two main areas of clubs and late-night bars. Your preferred destination will depend on your age and style. Courtenay Place is has rows of nightlife spots, from upscale techno spots packed with stylish clubbers to traditional Irish pubs, and the strip has several all-night venues manned by trendy DJs. For more of a neighborhood pub feel, choose any of the bars along Cuba Street, which are equally popular with university students and the business crowd, and are more likely to show a rugby match and serve food. The San Francisco Bath House on Cuba is one of the city's best spots for live music, often hosting well-known international DJs and acts not quite big enough to play arenas; other bars on Cuba usually have live music at night.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What is the best way to see Wellington in a day?

    If you’re trying to cover Wellington in just one day, Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you get up early, and enjoy a flat white (foamed milk and espresso) or other caffeinated drink in a packed cafe. Take a walk along the waterfront. Stop at Te Papa and spend a few hours touring the National Museum—this is one of the best places in New Zealand for a crash course in the history of the country and the culture of the Maori people. After that, take the Wellington Cable Car, a charming vintage funicular, from Lambton Quay up to the Botanic Gardens for a long stroll. Walk downhill to the Parliament Beehive for a short tour of the building, then enjoy a quick meal across the street at the Backbencher. If you have time, head to ZEALANDIA wildlife sanctuary in Karori to see native birds and enjoy the outdoors, before coming back downtown. Hike or take a bus to the top of Mount Victoria around sunset for the most spectacular view of the city. After dinner, take a walk along the harbor and finish the night at a bar or club on either Courtenay Place or Cuba Street. 
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    Where is the best shopping in Wellington?

    You’ll find that Wellington’s relatively small downtown and walking-friendly layout make it a great shopping destination. The city has several outdoor malls that are equally appealing to window shoppers or motivated buyers. Wellington has stores by top Southern Hemisphere fashion labels like David Walker, Ricochet, Rodd & Gunn, and Untouched World, as well as popular sportswear companies including Rip Curl, Amazon, and Canterbury of New Zealand. Many of those stores line the fashionable Lambton Quay, while within a few blocks' radius you’ll discover the legendary local department store Kirkcaldie & Stains, as well as shops selling distinctive local artwork and handcrafted jewelry. The eclectic Cuba Street area has an array of vintage shops, bookstores, and music vendors. On Sundays, the City Market at the Atrium Chaffers Dock Building offers cheeses, wine, fruit, and baked goods by local artisans.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What are the best things to do with kids in Wellington?

    New Zealand is known for its natural beauty and unusual wildlife, and your kids will love exploring this side of Wellington. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for five of the best things to do with kids in Wellington:
     
    1. See a Play. Wellington has New Zealand's best theater scene, and many venues have shows suitable for children. Located in downtown Civic Square, the Capital E National Theater for Children always has a variety of ongoing theater and music shows for younger audiences, plus a playground and a gallery displaying art by local children.
     
    2. Visit the Zoo. Just a short bus ride away in the suburb of Newtown, Wellington Zoo is home to more than 100 animal species. The small-but-welcoming zoo houses native New Zealand birds like the kiwi, kea and kaka, as well as the rare tuatara, a “living fossil” closely related to dinosaurs. 
     
    3. Ride the Cable Car. For more than a century, the red cable car has provided great views of Wellington. Leaving from the popular shopping area of Lambton Quay, it heads uphill above the government area, making stops at the famous botanic gardens and the historic cable car museum.
     
    4. Visit a Museum. Te Papa has plenty for kids to enjoy, and the free Museum of Wellington City and Sea — housed in the city's historic bond house — has a fun collection highlighting the city's history. Wellington also has several historic homes that have been converted into museums, including the birthplace of writer Katherine Mansfield.
     
    5. Go to the Beach. You can find a number of clean, popular beaches around Wellington Harbour. The one at Oriental Bay is closest to downtown, and is always packed on warm days. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the beautiful fountain and old wooden barge near the waterfront, plus the panoramic view.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What are the best things to do in Wellington?

    Wellington’s attractions cover the gamut from historical sites to places of natural beauty. As a university town, there’s a vibrant arts and food scene here that’s one of the best in New Zealand. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ recommendations for the best things to do during your next visit to Wellington.
     
    1. Visit Te Papa. The free national museum, Te Papa (“Our Place” in Maori) is actually three museums —natural history, New Zealand history, and art — in one beautiful building on the waterfront. Te Papa is open every day of the year, and stays open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
     
    2. Tour Parliament. Both buildings of New Zealand's government — the landmark “Beehive” structure and the older Parliament building next door — are free and open to the public for informative tours; the lush grounds around them are also worth a visit.  
     
    3. Hike Mount Victoria. The top of this mountain on Wellington's eastern side provides the best view of the city and harbor. It's a pleasant hike to the top along a wooded trail, though bus transport to the viewing area is also an option.
     
    4. Explore the Waterfront. You can find lots to do along the curve of the city's harbor. Take a ferry ride, rent a bike, or sign up for a helicopter ride. Check out the beautiful sculptures on the city-to-sea walkway, or relax on one of the city's beaches.
     
    5. See the Botanic Gardens. New Zealand has some of the world's most unique foliage, and you can see plenty of examples, including colorful flowers and prehistoric ferns, in the 25 hectares of the capital's expansive botanic gardens.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What are some day trips worth taking from Sydney?

    If you're spending at least a few days in Sydney, spend at least one visiting the Blue Mountains. Named for the eucalyptus-scented mist that covers them, the mountains include signature formations the Three Sisters and Hanging Rock, and provide great views and hiking. On the way, also consider Muru Mittigar, an Aboriginal cultural center run by the Darug, who tell Dreamtime stories and teach visitors to throw boomerangs or play didgeridoo. Wine enthusiasts should consider spending a day in the Hunter Valley, one of the world's best wine regions and home to many notable vineyards. History buffs might want to spend a day in the capital city of Canberra. Just a few hours away, Canberra  is home to some spectacular national museums and gardens, as well as beautiful Lake Burley Griffin and the country's always-contentious Parliament. Sydney has a good long-haul bus and rail system that makes these day trips easy, or you can take a rental car.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Jeff Fleisher answered the question: Jeff Fleisher

    What is the best thing to bring home from Sydney?

    When deciding what to bring home from Sydney, consider Aboriginal instruments, which make wonderful gifts as they double as artwork. A yidaki, or didgeridoo, will look beautiful in your home. The instrument, a tree branch hollowed out by termites, produces a deep drone sound. Didgeridoos are difficult to master but fun to play, and can often be found with eye-catching dot-paint patterns featuring Australian wildlife. However, make sure you're buying certified authentic pieces that actually help provide money for the artists themselves; there are a number of cheap imitations out there that won't play as well and don't support Aboriginal artists. Other Aboriginal instruments, like clapsticks and bullroarers, are also ideal take-home options.