Out and About in Wellington
By Jacqui W.
Back in the 1970’s it was said that Wellington closed on weekends. Times have changed since then.
Now boasting a vibrancy and sophistication to rival other larger cities, and truly breathtaking scenery, a weekend in Wellington is a must-do.
Wellington is set in a natural amphitheatre – surrounded by lush hills and spread around a spectacular harbour. It is renowned for its wind; the southerlies that blow in from Cook Strait can be phenomenal. The city is always interesting, but on a calm, sunny day, the place is delightful.
Whether your budget is that of a student or a lottery winner, there is something for everyone.
You can start your day with a serious coffee from one of the many iconic cafes, such as Mojo or Café L’Affare which roast their beans on site. Follow that with a stroll along the waterfront from Queen’s Wharf to Oriental Bay. While on your walk, why not make a detour to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Or catch the infamous Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens, for great views of the city and harbour as well as the obvious – gardens!
Of course, if you prefer getting up close with nature, then put on your hiking boots and experience Wellington’s rugged and wild coastline. The Makara Beach walk is a 7km loop offering spectacular views of the Coast. The track is quite steep in places but the view from the top is well worth the effort.
Another popular area for environment lovers is Te Kopahou Reserve - 600 hectares of land where you can find a variety of walking and mountain biking tracks, popular diving, surfcasting and beachcombing areas and fur seals colonies.
No visit to Wellington would be complete without a Lord Of The Rings tour. Much of the trilogy was filmed in and around Wellington, with director Peter Jackson calling the city home. There are some excellent companies offering tours of “Middle Earth”, complete with Orc-sized picnic lunches.
By now you’re probably exhausted and in need of a good lie down, but that will have to wait. Once the sun has hit the deck Wellington is not devoid of life as it was once reputed to be. From the numerous bars and cafés of Wellington central, to the theatre district of Courtney Place, to Cuba Street and its bohemian style, there is something for everyone.
Accommodation ranges from the budget backpackers’ hostels to five-star hotels in the windy city. And from the day you have had, you’ll be needing a comfy bed.
As you can see Wellington is now open – even on weekends.
Youngsters Group Together, Share Facilities, Interact, and Enjoy Wellington at a Modest Expense
The capital city of New Zealand, Wellington is a picturesque spot that is situated at the tip of the North Island. Apart from mountains abutting the coastal area, there are rainforests, wineries, orchard farms, and animal farms. Youngsters often backpack to these areas and take part in various festivities, concerts, theater shows, and musical shows that are held from time to time in this region.
Backpacking to Wellington is now no longer a distant dream for youngsters who are on a modest budget. Students on a shoestring budget can enjoy a short sojourn or a long holiday at New Zealand, take part in various entertainments in Wellington, eat, binge, and travel if they manage their itinerary well in advance.
Stay at Hostel, Dormitory Sharing
Hostel is a budget accommodation where you can get a comfy night rest. Food is generally served in a mess. At times you may get complimentary food and basic facilities. Popular hostels with dormitories include Base Wellington, Trek Global, and Downtown Backpackers. The Cambridge Hotel would cost you 15 Euro dollars while you can enjoy sustainable hostel facilities at YHA Wellington City.
Couch Surfing and Campervan Accommodation
There are various online hubs which give you the scope to interact with life-minded people, for instance, student backpackers. Perhaps, you can exchange your home for getting similar accommodation in Wellington. Known as couch surfing, this form of accommodation is not only affordable but also helps you know about New Zealand culture and unique places to visit.
Campervans and motorvans are similar lodging facilities which you can book with a group of friends having similar interests. Camping or trekking with youngsters of your age among the Kaikoura and Rimutaka range helps you to co-ordinate your journey well, enjoy many realms of the place which would have otherwise been impossible had you gone alone.
If you want to enjoy all the festivities of Wellington, mingle with the Maori culture, and learn the ways of living in New Zealand, a working holiday would help you to enjoy this long stay. If you love pets, you can be a pet sitter too, enjoy free accommodation and learn the ethos of the people. House sitters and baby sitters can also etch out a good residing facility and work part-time.
Short-Term Seasonal Jobs
Apart from sitter’s job, you can even take up seasonal jobs in various orchard farms and wineries in Wellington. Backpackers often stay as a wwoof activist or fruit picker in during the peak summer seasons. During wintry months, many work as helpers or snow diggers at ski resorts.
Short, modestly rewarding, complimentary facilities and a social venue to help you interact with other fellow tourists, youngsters backpacking to Wellington have no dearth of opportunities to enjoy the city and downtown areas.
Wellington, located in the southern part of the Northern Island, is the proud capital city of New Zealand and the heart of its political activities. The city has the Parliament and the head offices of the different government ministries and foreign embassies; the suburb of Thorndon, New Zealand's oldest, is where you can find the grand Parliament buildings, the Beehive, and inspiring Old St Paul’s Cathedral. These iconic structures, plus historical wooden cottages dotted around the city are integral to the heritage and feel of Wellington.
The nation’s thriving theatre and film industry is also based here, where film industry professionals congregate, share and build on their creative ideas. The eastern suburbs of the city are known for its world class filming infrastructure. Wellington hosts the popular biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival, as well as other cultural gems like the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the International Jazz Festival, National Opera Exhibits and New Zealand Affordable Art Show.
Other local attractions in Wellington include the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Museum, the Colonial Cottage, the Cricket Museum and the Cable Car Museum. The city boasts of housing the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere – the Law School building.
Visitors can also expect a healthy dose of cosmopolitan living, including a great café culture and thrilling nightlife of bars, restaurants and clubs. Ample malls and retail stores of all kinds cater to all your shopping needs. The city of Wellington has a number of great hotel accommodation options for travellers of all budgets, including inner city hotels with modest to luxurious amenities and services.
Dining options in Wellington abound; visitors can explore quality Asian and Pacific cuisine establishments alongside New Zealand and international fare. And for the truly passionate, there is the Wellington Capital Food Tour, which is led by knowledgeable food guides keen to navigate you around the city’s best gourmet spots, allowing you to sample and purchase local finds. You will experience boutique coffee roaster and café firsthand and unique tastings at three of the city’s favourite specialist gourmet food destinations.
As with the rest of the country, Wellington’s appeal is closely linked to the landscape; even the drive from the airport is scenic, and, most unique, is only minutes from the city (residential) centre! If you look above there are people sky diving; in the waters, rafting and river rappelling; and in the hills and rugged terrain, hiking and mountaineering.
Those interested in learning more about New Zealand’s native heritage can explore options like Maori Treasures Tour, which takes visitors to various sites to experience and often participate in the art and cultural customs of Maori people. Then there’s the Middle Earth Tour of Filming Locations which, as the name suggests, is a great way for fans to experience the actual film locations of the hit Lord of the Rings series. However, with small personalised groups and expert tour guide present, these half or full day tours will appeal to anyone keen on taking in the amazing breadth of the New Zealand landscape.
Wellington is an inviting and interesting city that is sure to be a highlight of your visit to New Zealand. Come for leisure or relaxation, adventure or history, fine foods and wines or wildlife – in fact, why not do it all? It is available at your fingertips so put Wellington on your to-do list now!
Places to know in Wellington
Places to Know in Wellington
Wellington International Airport is on the Rongotai isthmus, about a 15 minute drive from Wellington’s central business district (CBD). Most international airlines fly direct to Wellington.
All roads lead to Wellington, as their advertising literature claims, and you will find a wide selection of direct flights to New Zealand cities at Wellington International Airport. Wellington is less than an hours flight from any New Zealand city.
Bus and train depots:
TranzScenic connects Wellington with all major New Zealand cities by rail. Their Wellington terminal is on Bunny Street, by Lambton Harbour.
InterCity Coachlines offers bus travel between New Zealand cities. They have terminals at Wellington Airport, the ferry terminal at Aotea Quay and Wellington Railway Station in Thorndon, by Waterloo Quary.
The Wellington Police District covers the southern portion of New Zealand’s north island. Their headquarters are located at Wellington Central Police Station on the corner of Harris and Victoria Streets in the city’s CBD.
The number for New Zealand emergency services is 111.
Wellington houses embassies for nearly all overseas countries. Your countries embassy can provide you with information on New Zealand or provide legal assistance if necessary.
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade lists contact information for all embassies located in New Zealand. You may want to obtain this information before you leave, then locate your embassy once you are in Wellington.
Life in Wellington
Waking up early to take a swim before class... spending time studying at a world class university... hanging out with friends at one of the campus cafes... enjoying some live entertainment and a few cold beers... Yep, life in New Zealand is great.
But cultural and legal differences between New Zealand and your home country can make your new adventure a lot more difficult than it has to be. It’s best to be as informed as possible before you arrive in New Zealand.
From understanding the tax system to answering your queries about New Zealand’s climate, finding accommodation in New Zealand, booking New Zealand tours and everything in between, AA Education Network strives to give you all the advice and information you need to make your transition into Kiwi life as smooth as possible.
Climate & Weather in Wellington, NZ
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is located on the south coast of the North Island, on a latitude of 41.2 degrees South. Cities on similar latitudes in the Northern hemisphere include Rome, Italy and Vancouver, Canada. The weather and climate of New Zealand in general is temperate and Wellington's is largely in keeping with this; mild with plenty of wind.
The Northern Island experiences subtropical conditions during the mild and sunny summer months (December to February), which means the capital’s summer temperatures do not reach the levels of northern hemisphere cities on a similar latitude. This is due primarily to the cooling effects of the surrounding Pacific Ocean.
Winter in Wellington is likewise a mild affair, bringing cool, rainy days with the occasional southerly storm, never reaching the cold extremes of some Northern American or European countries. Wellington’s average daily maximum temperatures are in the high teens to low 20s in summer and in the low teens in winter, with minimums of around 6C.
The city also receives a generous 2,000 hours of sunshine a year * one reason why Wellington and New Zealand in general is such a popular tourist drawcard (by comparison London averages 1,500 hours annually, and Edinburgh 1,350). The average annual rainfall, mostly occurring during the winter months, is around 1,250 mm.
In terms of weather, perhaps the most distinguishing aspect of New Zealand’s capital * or ‘Windy Wellington’ as its affectionately called by locals * is the recurring strong winds. These strong winds originate from nearby Cook Strait, the stretch of ocean water that separates the North and South Islands. The waters’ funnelling effect stirs up intense winds along the southern coast of the North Island and can reach winds of up to 200km/hour during extremely adverse weather.
One significant weather-related hazard which can affect residents and visitors to Wellington is the strength of the sun (most apparent in summer months).
There are several factors contributing to this: New Zealand’s geographic location means that the earth’s orbit takes it closer to the sun during the southern hemispheric summer than the northern one; also, there is less ozone to block the harmful UV rays responsible for sunburn. Ironically, the country’s relative lack of air pollution means there is less of a buffer to protect people from these UV rays in the hotter months, where the index can reach and exceed 12.
Overall visitors to Wellington can expect pleasantly mild weather most times of the year, ideal for soaking up the ambient city attractions and the greater green and water-dotted landscapes of surrounding New Zealand.
Hoa, our IELTS preparation student from Vietnam reports about her experience studying and living in Wellington, New Zealand.
August 2007 started my first time I had been oversea more than
six months far away from my sweet hometown, VietNam.
Campbell would be the place where I was going to stick with during the
next 27 weeks and it made my time in Wellington worth staying.
Not only could I gain knowledge and improvement in English, but I also had lots of fantastic memorable experiences.
In regard to learning environment, I have received help and assistance from Campbell staff and teachers.
Living far away from made me so homesick. Fortunately, Campbell has played an important role as if it was my second home and receiving love from all staff helps me enjoy Wellington.
The sweetest thing which will always stick on my mind is all my gorgeous teachers. They are dedicated and always provide stimulating lesson in class
which really help my English improved.
From the very first time when I arrived in Wellington, IELTS was a brand new concept for me. However, from time to time and especially with my teachers'
professional education, I was so confident to sit IETLS after 20-week study.
Eventually, achieving my target score at the first time I've sat IELTS has shown their contribution to my academic performance.
Furthermore, as well as being excellent teachers, they are also my friends and inspiration in life. They have raise my deep concern about life, environment, education and even democracy which does not seem to be interesting for Vietnamese students in general. Therefore, I am becoming keen on global
issues and humanity.
Friendship is one of the best love in life and I have made a lots of friends from different nationalities as well as personalities. I have perceived the best of different cultures.
I will never forget them as we have been sharing so many sweet moments. We treated as sisters and brothers together. We have been enjoying every single minute when we have so much fun.
In addition, with an enthusiastic activity co-ordinator in Campbell, we have had so many interesting trips exploring New Zealand. They gave us more opportunities for building our friendship. We have been experiencing a magnificent greenest New Zealand. That was fantastic time in my life.
Life has to go on and perhaps we will all ocean apart. However, the most important thing is that our love for friends as well as Campbell will never end. We are still keeping in touch and we will in the future. My time in New Zealand would not have been that enjoyable if I had not studied in Campbell and met all these lovely people.
Wellington Botanical Gardens
The Wellington Botanic Garden is a delightful showcase of some of New Zealand’s finest flora, encompassing 26 hectares of unique landscape, protected native forest, conifers, tulips, specialised plant collections, formal gardens and generous views over the lively capital city and harbour.
Wellington Botanic Garden was established in 1868 with the planting of imported conifer species, an initiative of the British colony to test the viability of the new colony . In time it came to be the first public garden in New Zealand to be classified as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and is a Historic Places Trust Heritage Area.
The gardens are situated only minutes from downtown Wellington * simply take the Wellington Cable Car, a number 03 Karori bus, or drive or walk to any one of the dozen plus entrances around Kelburn, including Glen Entrance. Open daily between sunrise and sunset and free of charge, this leisurely and scenic attraction is a great way to introduce visitors to Wellington, and to relax and unwind from daily commotion.
A favourite walking route which takes around 20 minutes begins from The Terrace in the central city, through Robertson Way in the Bolton Street Memorial Park, then onto the main garden via the Lady Norwood Rose Garden
Stepping into the gardens you will find noteworthy spots like the award winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden, (including shop and Picnic Café), contemplative Peace Flame Garden, and the Carter Observatory – the National Observatory of New Zealand on top of the hill near the Cable Car stop. Dotted around the grounds are sculptures and carvings by local and national artists, lending to the unique atmosphere.
There’s also the handy Treehouse Information Centre, for all the info and directions you might need; Begonia House Shop and Garden Café, a large children’s play area to bring and entertain your kids, and a cute duck pond.
Throughout the year the Botanic Gardens plays host to several lively music events, staged in the ‘Sound Shell’. In January free concerts are performed here as part of the ASB Gardens Magic Concert Series, part of the Summer City programme of music and performance organised by the Wellington City Council. Later on the calendar is the vibrant and popular Annual Spring Festival takes place from 18 September to 12 October.
With so much to explore and take in, in a colourful and inviting environment, The Wellington Botanic Gardens is a must-see on any trip to New Zealand’s capital.
Parliament House and the ‘Beehive’
Visitors to Thorndon in Wellington, the nation’s oldest suburb, are invited to take a leisurely and informative tour of the intriguing Parliament buildings. New Zealand’s Parliament comprises four distinct buildings — Parliament House, the Parliamentary Library, the Beehive (also known as Executive Wing), and Bowen House.
These buildings form the nucleus of the nation’s democracy, and are integral to its national heritage. Parliament House is an Edwardian neo-classical building designed by architects John Campbell and Claude Paton in 1912 (and reoccupied in 1918), to replace the previous building that was destroyed by fire in 1907.
The 'Beehive' is the popular name for the Executive Wing of the parliamentary complex, so-called due to the building’s shape. This is where the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers have offices, and where the Cabinet meets.
Sir Basil Spence, a British architect, designed a concept for the Beehive during a visit to Wellington in 1964. The design was based on the concept of a central point from which rooms and offices radiated outwards. The Beehive was built in stages between 1969 and 1979, when the first parliamentary offices moved in.
The Beehive is 72 metres tall and has 14 ‘levels‘ in all: 10 floors above ground and four floors below. It is connected to Bowen House, home to the offices of many Ministers and parliamentary members, via an underground walkway beneath the street of the same name. The interior of the building is decorated with marble floors and grand pillars and other touches; the Banquet Hall, on the first floor of the Beehive, is the largest function room in the parliamentary complex, while the basement contains the National Crisis Management Centre.
To encourage the public and tourists to learn more about New Zealand’s government and history, free tours of Parliament Buildings operate every day, on the hour. Tours depart from the Visitor Centre in the foyer of the Beehive (Executive Wing). Weekdays 10am-4pm; Saturdays and most public holidays 10am-3pm, and Sundays 11am-3pm.
Accompanied by a trained guide, the tour will take you through several significant parts of the Parliament’s buildings, including the library and Beehive, where visitors will learn about New Zealand’s parliamentary processes. Along the way you will also glimpse artworks displayed in the rooms and halls. There’s also a popular gift shop where you can buy postcards and souvenirs to commemorate your visit to this site of both historical value and immense present day importance.
Established in 1906 Wellington Zoo is New Zealand’s premiere venue for animals like lions, tigers, chimpanzees, giraffes, and popular native icons such as the kiwi and tuataras. Located at 200 Daniell Street, Newtown, Wellington, the zoo attracts thousands of visitors each year and continues to expand its ‘attractions’ along with conservation and educational goals.
New Zealand’s first Zoo covers some 13 hectares and is open to the public 364 days a year, every day except Christmas Day, from 9.30am to 5pm daily, with last entry at 4.15pm. It is home to over 500 animals, comprised of over a hundred species including the Red Panda, Sumatran Tiger and Brown Kiwi.
The Zoo hosts a mid-year school holiday programme from Monday 6 July, suitable for children aged 6 to 11. Each fun and education-packed day focuses on a different animal and parents are encouraged to get involved.
In 2003 Wellington Zoo became a charitable trust where it had earlier operated under the auspices of Wellington City Council. The Trust Board has played a pivotal role in legacy-building and evolving the Zoo’s social and environmental agenda. One of the biggest successes for the Trust Board is the Zoo Capital Programme (ZCP) – a ten year redevelopment plan for the Zoo, which got the green light from the Wellington City Council in December 2006.
Wellington Zoo is a member of the Central region Sustainable Business Network and conservation is very much a driving principle. This is demonstrated via regional and international breeding programmes and contributions to in situ and ex situ conservation projects, along with diverse research programmes.
The motto, “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is dear to staff and loyal supporters of the Wellington Zoo, and in the past 24 months well over 1,300 native tress have been planted on the grounds, to serve as revegetation and food for animals.
This commitment to the environment and sustainability extends to the Zoo gift shop; bags come in biodegradable plastic, paper, and even reusable spun and woven form. Support local New Zealand products alongside worthy ‘Fair Trade’ merchandise from interesting locations like India Uganda (handmade jewellery), India (bags), and Guatemala (‘worry’ dolls).
Perfect for a family outing or simply a fun and educational reminder of our relationships with animals and the world, the Wellington Zoo has a rightful place as a must-see attraction.
The St James Theatre (77 - 87 Courtenay Place, Wellington) and The Opera House (111 - 113 Manners Street, Wellington) are two of New Zealand’s most popular and iconic cultural landmarks. His Majesty’s Theatre (later to become the St James) was built in 1912, designed by renown architect/engineer Henry White. Inside, the Theatre’s auditorium is highly ornamental, featuring decorative cherubs and, at the time, it was the largest vaudeville and picture theatre in Australasia.
In the mid-1980s, the St James Theatre, despite its prized status, faced financial difficulties and the threat of demolition; fortunately, one of New Zealand’s great assets lives to entertain to this day. Today, the rejuvenated St James, refurbished in 2001, is the permanent home for The Royal New Zealand Ballet and offers the best stage for dance in the country. Visitors will find a Ticketek Box Office conveniently located at the theatre for all your event and group booking needs.
Guests can enjoy the relaxed and informal atmosphere at The Jimmy Cafe in the grand foyer of The St James Theatre – a great venue for breakfast, lunch or pre-show dining and post-show, sumptuous coffees. Its choice street level location lends Wellington’s Courtenay Place theatre precinct a dependable and charming vitality. And for those out to really paint the town red, the St James offers the ‘Star Experience’ – a stylish themed night out featuring red carpet treatment, pre-show drinks and canapés, interval drinks, even post-show supper or any combination to your liking! Ideal for birthdays, business functions or a special occasion.
Regarded as an icon of early 20th century architecture, The Opera House was opened to the public Easter Saturday in 1914. Its opulent interior features a marble staircase, domed ceiling, a grand circle and two tiers of boxes – and, not to mention, a larger stage than its more famous Sydney counterpart. This Wellington highlight is classified as an Historic Building by the Historic Places Trust of New Zealand and awarded an “A” classification (the St James has the status of Category I building of outstanding cultural and historical significance as one of the best lyric theatres in Australasia).
Fans of good music and live performances will be pleased to know that the Opera House’s 2009 line-up includes such winning shows as Hotel California – The Eagles Tribute Show Opera House (August), and Night Fever – The Bee Gees Tribute Show (October). At the St James, fans of more traditional stage performances can view the acclaimed Royal New Zealand Ballet’s adaptation of Peter Pan from late October and November.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, located on the south side of New Zealands north island. Interestingly Wellington is only the third largest city in New Zealand. Known to New Zealanders as the 'Capital of Cool'. Wellington isn't just a big city, it offers all the magical scenery that you think of when you here the name New Zealand. When you think of the north island you think of beautiful beaches and a great temperate climate making it an ideal place to visit or live.
Wellington is a very sophisticated city offering everything in the way of entertainment venues including cocktail bars, designer shopping, art galleries, trendy cafes and restaurants. Wellington city is ideally situated on the water front of the Natural Harbour. Here you can take a harbour cruise, go roller blading, rock climbing, swim in the stunning beaches or walk along the Queens Wharf towards Oriental Bay.
Within the city you can take the famous Wellington Writers Walk, take a trip on the cable car or visit the Cable Car Museum. Or even visit Wellingtons beautiful Botanical Gardens.
On Wellingtons south coast you can go on the Seal Coast Safari where you can see the New Zealand Fur Seal colonies that call this region home. If it's wildlife your interested in you can also visit the Karori Sanctuary.
If you are interested in the history of New Zealand then of course as New Zealands capital city, Wellington has all the government houses, parliament house and museums all located within it's CBD.
As you can see Wellington isn't just a capital city, there is so much here waiting for you to come and explore.
The capital of New Zealand is Wellington; it is the third most populated city and is located on the North Island. The climate in Wellington is generally moderate throughout the year, with the average high temperature around 25°C and the average low temperature around 5°C. However the city can get quite windy, especially in the winter and there is high rainfall though it rarely snows. The last reported case was in July 1995.
New Zealand has consistently had a thriving film industry with international acclaim with such films as the critically acclaimed 'Once Were Warriors', the Academy Award winning film 'The Piano' and Peter Jackson's cult classic 'Heavenly Creatures' which starred a young Kate Winslet. However it was due to Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of The Rings trilogy that really brought international attention and tourism to the country.
The Museum of New Zealand, known as Te Papa which loosely translate to 'Our Place', and the Wellington City Art Gallery are both located in the country's capital, there is also a strong music and performing arts scene. There is also a strong festival culture within the city with events ranging from the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, the Cuba Street Carnival and many film festivals.
Cafes are very popular in the city's culture, serving a range of food from traditional dishes, multi-culturally influenced dishes and a lot of seafood.
- Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and the political and cultural centre.
- Wellington is New Zealand's second largest urban area and the most populous national capital in Oceania.
- Wellington provides interesting study options for international students: Visit the New Zealand education website.
- Wellington is at the southern tip of the North Island, near the geographical centre of the country.
- Wellington's city centre supports an arts scene, café culture and nightlife much larger than most cities of a similar size.
- Wellington is a centre of New Zealand's film and theatre industry. Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand), the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival are all sited there.
- Wellington suffered serious damage in a series of earthquakes in 1848 and from another earthquake in 1855. The 1855 Wairarapa earthquake occurred on a fault line to the north and east of Wellington.
- Wellington contains a variety of architectural styles dating back from the past 150 years; from nineteenth century wooden cottages, some streamlined Art Deco structures, and post-modern architecture in the CBD.
For lovers of sophistication as well as the exciting buzz of art and culture, Wellington is New Zealand’s must-see destination.
This harbour-side jewel is situated on the tip of the North Island beside Cooks Strait, and has adopted the nickname of ‘Windy Wellington’ for the sea breezes that whip across the city. With a population of approximately 466 575, Wellington is New Zealand’s second largest city (Auckland is the largest) and the country’s centre for arts, entertainment and culture.
An exploration through the compact inner city is easily achievable on foot. Wellington has a sophisticated blend of classic and contemporary architecture with some of New Zealand’s most striking modern and heritage buildings. From the young and funky market style of Cuba Street to the stylish boutiques of Lambton Quay, there are plenty of unique places to shop or relax and enjoy a coffee.
The city frames Wellington harbour and, with the strong coastal breezes, is a perfect location for sailing and yachting. The waterfront is also home to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongawara, boasting an impressive 5-floors of exhibitions and local and international artefacts. This museum is important to the cultural preservation of New Zealand’s past and celebration of New Zealand’s innovative present and future.
A cable-car ride up to the Botanical Gardens overlooking the city is a great way to take in views of the entire harbour across to the Hutt Valley. This peaceful place can be enjoyed on the many guided pathways and tours, and is also home to the fascinating Cable-Car Museum and the Carter Observatory and Planetarium.
Wellington’s stunning waterfront esplanade is best enjoyed at a casual pace - a meal in one of the many cafes and restaurants is a particularly good way to take in the harbour views. Another popular eating area is Courtenay Place, the many cafes and restaurants offering an array of both international and local cuisine to suit any taste or budget.
There is something to see or do in Wellington virtually every day of the week, with many of New Zealand’s main theatre companies, music and art institutions based here. Some Wellington-based institutes that present high quality live performances, exhibitions, tours and events on a regular basis include - The Royal New Zealand Ballet, the NBR New Zealand Opera, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Te Whaea National Dance and Drama centre, the National Film Archives and Gallery and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. Many of New Zealand’s most famous arts professionals have their roots in this city, for example director Peter Jackson, actress Anna Paquin and flight of the concords duo Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie.
Wellington is New Zealand’s political capital, and is also the most southern capital city in the world. A 2009 research survey deemed that Wellington combines a high quality of life with a low cost of living. The city has a thriving multi cultural atmosphere that is evident through the town, in the selection of ethnic restaurants, cafes, galleries and other attractions.
Wellington is located on the south western tip of the North Island and is bordered by the Cook Strait, the Rimutaka Ranges to the east and the beaches of Kapiti Coast to the north. Wellingtons urban area consists of four cities; Wellington City, the towns central business district, which is located on a peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, Lower and Upper Hutt Cities (collectively known as the Hutt Valley), comprising Wellingtons suburban areas and Poirua City, on the Poirua Harbour, which is home to a large Polynesian community.
The city has a moderate climate and averages 196 days of sunlight a year. Wellington is generally very windy and receives a lot of rain. Snow is rare; Wellington’s last snowfall was in 1995.
In Maori history, Wellington was discovered and explored by Kupe, a chief responsible for the Polynesian discovery of New Zealand, in the tenth century. Europeans settlement occurred in 1839 with the arrival of the New Zealand Company ship Tory. Wellington replaced Auckland as New Zealand’s capital city in 1865.
Wellington is a geographically beautiful and varied area. The surrounding bushland is a popular spot for outdoor adventurers, who enjoy hiking, biking and four wheel driving, while the city’s sparkling harbour is a common area for water sports enthusiasts.
The architecture of Wellington is enchantingly unique, with the city striking a balance between retaining iconic buildings and introducing modern design. Heritage buildings stand next to towering skyscrapers in many parts of the town. Wellington has also retained its cable car. The Wellington Cable Car is one of the few inclined cable railways left in the world and runs between Wellington’s main shopping street and nearby hilly suburbs.
Wellington is the nerve centre for most of the nation’s major cultural organisation and lovers of the arts will enjoy the many quality museums, art galleries and ballets in town. The city has several theatres and performing art complexes – the Wellington Improvisation Troupe are a noteworthy example – and is home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Wellington is sometimes called Wellywood, as it was the main filming and production location for Lord of the Rings. Conservation laws required that the sets be removed once filming finished, but many remnants of the event still exist. Many locals were involved in catering, set production and props, and many scenes were filmed against the iconic Mount Victoria. Director Peter Jackson, a New Zealand native, still has a house in the waterfront suburb of Seatoun.
Travellers will find there’s much to love about New Zealand’s capital. Whether you’re an adventure junky, a cultural buff, a foodie or just a tourist looking for a memorable New Zealand experience, Wellington’s attractions will keep you engaged.