Nestled between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, New Zealand's capital city is renowned for its arts, heritage, culture and native beauty. Situated at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington, New Zealand, was recently named "the coolest little capital in the world" by Lonely Planet.
Surrounded by nature and fuelled by creative energy, Wellington is a compact city with a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine. Fuel your visit with strong coffee and world-class craft beer – Wellingtonians are masters of casual dining, with plenty of great restaurants, night markets and food trucks.
Things to do:
Small village charm, big city style:
- Wellington is movie director Peter Jackson's hometown and many movies have been made in Wellington. The world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in November 2012 has the spotlight firmly in Wellington. A tour is the best way to discover the secrets of the making of the movies.
- Said to have more bars and restaurants per capita than New York, Wellington is widely celebrated for it's good taste. Leave the diet at home and immerse yourself in the culinary capital for coffee, cocktails, cafes and some very fine dining indeed - all within easy walking distance around Courtenay Place and Cuba Street.
- Walk or take a bus from the city to the summit of Mount Victoria for a 360-degree panorama of Wellington.
Telling New Zealand's stories:
- Te Papa is the innovative national museum and a world leader in interactive experiences. New Zealand's history, art and people are showcased in fun and interesting exhibitions. Set on Wellington's waterfront, Te Papa is the most visited museum in Australasia and entry is free for most exhibitions.
- Big bang science meets Maori mythology at Carter Observatory, located in the Botanic Gardens. Open daily from 10am with telescope viewing Tuesdays and Saturdays.
- Wellington has a reputation as the cultural capital. See a live show and concert any night of the week.
- The Museum of Wellington City & Sea presents local history in a dedicated space. Don't miss the moving Wahine shipwreck exhibition and kids will love 'A Millennium Ago', which tells maori legends. Free entry.
- Walk around the stunning waterfront and follow the Wellington Writer's Walk - quotes from New Zealand writers are celebrated in large stone sculptures. Best enjoyed with a coffee or ice-cream in hand.
- A restored, historic cable car travels from downtown Wellington up to the Botanic Garden, where there are sweeping views of the city and harbour.
- Enjoy a tour of Parliament Buildings which provide an insight into New Zealand's political heritage or visit the Government Buildings across the road.
- Visit Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace, childhood home of one of New Zealand's most famous writers. The house has been intricately restored to match the descriptions in her stories.
- Old St Paul's is a magnificent, gothic style cathedral built from New Zealand native timbers.
- The suburb of Petone is one of New Zealand's heritage gems. Wander along Jackson Street, filled with funky cafés, unique New Zealand galleries and fashion.
Nature close to the city:
The best way to appreciate the beauty of Wellington's natural environment is to get out there.
- Visit Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience, just 10 minutes from downtown Wellington. The valley is home to some of New Zealand's rarest wildlife including kiwi and tuatara while the exhibition explains the 500-year vision for this conservation attraction.
- Enjoy animal antics at Wellington Zoo - New Zealand's oldest zoological park.
- Harbour cruises operate between the city, Matiu/Somes Island in the middle of Wellington Harbour and Days Bay, where you'll find seaside cafes and craft shops.
- Hire a sea kayak and paddle around the picturesque bays of Wellington Harbour.
- Take a four-wheel drive tour to the south coast and see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.
- Mountain bike through the re-generating native bush of Makara Peak, a nationally acclaimed mountain bike park.
- Take a bush walk in Otari-Wilton's Bush, New Zealand's only botanic garden dedicated solely to native forest.
Gourmet food and golden beaches on Kapiti Coast:
Northwest of Wellington is the Kapiti Coast, where you can enjoy stunning beaches and a gourmet lifestyle.
- Kapiti Island Nature Reserve sits just off the coastline - it's one of New Zealand's leading conservation islands.
- Tempt your taste buds at Lindale Tourist and Agricultural Centre, where you'll find local Kapiti cheese and ice cream tasting.
- Visit Southwards Car Museum, for the Southern Hemisphere's largest collection of antique and unusual cars.
- Test your culinary skills at the Ruth Pretty Cooking School. Ruth Pretty is one of New Zealand's best-loved chefs. Running a purpose built cooking school from home, she shares recipes, cooking ideas and entertaining secrets in the rural tranquillity of Te Horo.