Wellington is the capital city and third most populous urban area of New Zealand. The urban area is situated on the southwestern tip of the country’s North Island, and lies between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. It is home to 389,700 residents.
‘The Windy City’ is on the foreshore of Wellington Harbour and ringed by mountains, providing the scenic home of many of New Zealand’s national arts and cultural attractions.
Wellington is New Zealand’s political centre, housing Parliament, the head offices of all Government Ministries and Departments and the bulk of the foreign diplomatic missions that are based in New Zealand.
Wellington’s compact city centre supports an arts scene, café culture and nightlife much larger than many cities of a similar size. It is an important centre of New Zealand’s film and theatre industry and second to Auckland in terms of numbers of screen industry businesses.
Wellington is at the south-western tip of the North Island on Cook Strait – the passage that separates the North and South Islands. On a clear day, the snow-capped Kaikoura Ranges are visible to the south across the strait. To the north stretch the golden beaches of the Kapiti Coast. On the east the Rimutaka Range divides Wellington from the broad plains of the Wairarapa, a wine region of national notability.
Famous for a vibrant creative culture fuelled by great food, wine, craft beer and coffee, Wellington is a cosmopolitan city with a friendly personality. At the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island and nestled between two wine regions and the rich waters of Cook Strait, this charismatic capital city overlooks a beautiful harbour.
One of Wellington’s most appealing features is its easily walkable downtown area. From the numerous inner city hotels visitors can explore the shopping district centred on Lambton Quay, the entertainment and nightlife precinct of Courtenay Place and the picturesque waterfront with its cafes and public parks, all on foot.
A Taste of Wellington
Fresh produce from land and sea is well served by Wellington’s many restaurants – the city is said to have more eateries per capita than New York. Global influences from a diverse population, plus a competitive restaurant scene have made Wellington into a world-class culinary destination.
I Love the Nightlife
As well as being tucked between New Zealand’s finest wine regions, the capital is home to a number of purveyors of delicious beverages. Find intimate stylish cocktail bars hidden off Tory Street, dance clubs and Irish pubs on Courtenay Place or head to Cuba Street for live music from local indie bands.
Craft Beer Capital
In recent years, the craft beer revolution has caught the city’s imagination, with experimental micro-breweries and specialist bars springing up all over. With around half of the craft beer consumption in New Zealand happening in Wellington, it’s clear that locals and visitors alike are rapidly developing a taste for the finer points of the brewer’s art. Local brewers, Garage Project, are the rock stars of the scene, with their mix of fearless experimentation and rock solid brew technique. Their Aro Valley Cellar Door is the place for a taste of what’s fresh on tap, and locals beat a path to fill a bottle or two to savour over the weekend. Out on the town, Goldings Free Dive is a little bar that’s big on personality and huge on flavour – the latest in a collection of dedicated craft beer bars in the centre city.
Wellington continues to be the coffee capital. Flight Coffee’s Nick Clark won the New Zealand Barista Championship in 2013, and represented New Zealand at the World Barista Championships, placing 5th. With numerous coffee roasteries around the city supplying coffee to the whole country, and a vibrant café scene enjoyed by a discerning public, nothing but the best is good enough. As international coffee culture authority Sprudge.com puts it, ‘Wellington continues to be home to some of the best coffee buying, roasting, and presentation on the planet’.
Food, glorious food – Wellington Markets
On Friday nights, the bright lights, delicious smells and buzzing atmosphere of the Wellington Night Market can be found in Left Bank off Cuba Street. On Saturday mornings there’s the Hill Street Farmers Market, and the famous Wellington Underground Market which features the capital’s best makers, bakers, artists and musicians. On Sundays, the Harbourside Market next to Te Papa sells the freshest local produce, and the indoor City Market at nearby Chaffers Dock Function Centre specialises in artisan providore stalls and is championed by local food personalities Martin Bosley and Rachel Taulelei.
Capital Culture and Creativity
From classical institutions to major contemporary cultural events, Wellington is a hub for artistic expression. Museums, theatres, public sculpture and poetry are woven into the urban landscape, creating an environment of discovery and storytelling.
Wellington, as seen on TV!
If you enjoyed the spectacular Lord of the Rings or Avatar films you must visit Weta Cave in the suburb of Miramar. This mini-museum provides special glimpse into the Wellington-based design and special effects magic that thrilled audiences around the world. Join a Window Into Workshop tour for a behind-the-scenes look at Weta Workshop and the impressive work created within.
Nature on the City’s Doorstep
Threaded with 425 hectares of bush-clad town belt and a long coastline, Wellington is a city on nature’s doorstep. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Wellington you’ll find Zealandia. Hidden in a suburban valley, this project aims to return a 225 hectare section of bush to its pre-human state. Take a walk and hear the songs of the flourishing native bird population, or book a night tour for kiwi spotting.
Fun on two wheels – Cycling in Wellington
Grab a bike and venture out on the recently opened, Rimutaka Cycle Trail. A 115km journey through distinctive New Zealand landscapes in the Wellington and Wairarapa regions, you’ll cycle through everything from a broad river valley to bush-clad hills and gullies; lakeside farmland to rugged southern coastline.
Telling New Zealand’s stories
You wouldn’t come to Wellington without visiting the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. One of the most striking museums in the world, Te Papa brings the stories of New Zealand’s history, art and culture to life with amazing interactive displays and exhibits.
A Wellington Classic – Wellington Cable Car
Visitors also love to ride the historic Wellington Cable Car to the top of the Botanic Garden for a view over the whole city and harbour – a great spot for photos. Also at the top of the Cable Car, visit the Carter Observatory to about the history of astronomy in New Zealand and experience a full dome digital planetarium show.
With everything from trendy boutiques stocking local and international designers to gorgeous art and quirky gift stores, you’ll easily fill your day with retail therapy and your suitcase with beautiful new things. On weekends the local markets showcase regional produce, artisan crafts and more.
From the first-class food fest that is Visa Wellington On a Plate to the wondrous World of WearableArt™ Awards Show, there’s always something happening in New Zealand’s events capital. Home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet, the capital city knows how to put on a good show.