Although its size may lead you to doubt Wellington’s capital status, the vibrant culture and political houses more than make up for it. A comparison has often been drawn between the city and San Francisco due to its mountainous topography. This means that walking around Wellington can prove a tiresome trip that is hard on calf muscles. The cable cars are an easier option, and another feature shared by San Francisco. The capital is referred to as the windy city due to its location on the southern tip of the North Island, which causes it to be prey to icy blasts from New Zealand’s Southern Alps. In winter this provides a glimpse of the South Island’s alternative climate. Wellington boasts two contrasting landscapes. The south division of the city houses the cosmopolitan part of the capital, where you can find political buildings, theatres and Wellington’s active nightlife. A short journey north brings you to sleepy towns and working farms, and national parks that provide a striking alternative to the hectic life found in the south of the capital. The city is also the port for the journey over to the South Island, which can be made by ferry or by plane.


During the 1980s and 1990s Wellington steered itself away from its reputation as the political capital of New Zealand and emerged as a cultural mecca. Today it is home to variety of arts, including film production and ballet. The International Festival of The Arts is held every autumn and is the country’s largest performing arts festival. The festival runs for approximately three weeks and activities covering all genres of music, dance and theatre can be found across the city.

Being located around a harbour, this is the best place to head to find the focus of Wellington’s appeal. Although Lambton harbour was once covered with Wellington’s waterfront industry, this area now provides some of the capital’s most cosmopolitan sites. Civic Square is the hub of Wellington’s life. Here you will find architectural marvels, colourful buildings, sculptures and an array of cafes. It is home to the Public Library, City Gallery and the main concert venues, the Town Hall and Michael Fowler Centre.

The Town Hall is one of Wellington’s most popular auditoriums, filling its capacity for 2,000 guests most performances. Its traditional architecture echoes the type of concerts that it houses, and its building work is just as impressive as its usage. The Michael Fowler Centre is more popular with rock concerts, as well as conventions and even political rallies.

Te Papa Tongarewa is the Museum of New Zealand and is considered to be one of the countries finest. In it you will find some of New Zealand’s most important artefacts and treasures, including both Maori and contemporary items. It provides a history of New Zealand from start to present, and with a size equal to three football fields, a whole day should be assigned for a visit to this attraction.

The harbour is also home to the Museum of Wellington, City and Sea. This gives the maritime history of New Zealand and Wellington, including relics from wrecks, pictures, maps and journals. Recreations and films help piece together Wellington’s history and provide an accurate perspective of the city.

If you wish to explore the capital’s political features then the Old Government Buildings can be found a short walk from the harbour. Directly opposite these is the Beehive, the unique circular Cabinet offices, and adjacent to this are the Parliament Buildings and the General Assembly Library.

The Wellington Cable Car ferries people from Lambton harbour to its Botanic Gardens, stopping at various places in between. These gardens are one of Wellington’s premier attractions and provide a lush haven away from the buzz of the city. Just half a mile from the gardens lies the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, which presents the chance to see national birds such as the kiwi, weak, and morepork.

Depending on the time of year and its climatic conditions, there are a number of different outdoor activities, including golf, windsurfing and sailing, to embark on in Wellington and its surrounding areas. It is possible to sail all around the coast which Wellington inhabits, but windsurfing should be restricted to the coast at Porirua. Whanganui National Park is located to the North of the city, and excellent canoeing is available along the Whanganui River. Lyall Bay offers the best surfing conditions, and while flat swimmers can enjoy the waters here also.


Wellington is divided into distinct shopping areas. Cuba Quarter offers more alternative shops, including quirky clothes and second-hand shops. Lambton Quarter contains five department stores, which have more traditional shops, including chain stores. Willis Quarter has local designer clothes and sports shops. For antique shops then it is best to head to Thorndon, which is Wellington’s historical district, or Wairarapa which is also home to many wineries

Nightlife and Eating Out

It has been proposed that Wellington has more eateries per head of population than New York, so it is impossible to go unnourished in this capital. Courtenay Place, located in Lampton harbour, is lined with bars, clubs and restaurants and houses all you should need for your night out. Every style of cuisine and price range is catered for, from budget to award-winning cuisine. Both live music and club venues can be found, as well as buskers and performing artists offering local talent. Other venues and restaurants can be found across the city, Queens Wharf is another area densely populated with eateries, and details of the current best and most popular of these can be found in local press.

Tourist Information

Positively Wellington Tourism Level 28, Grand Plimmer Tower 33 Gilmer Terrace P O Box 10 017 WellingtonNew Zealand Phone : +64 4 916 1205Fax : +64 4 916 1214Email: info@WellingtonNZ.com


Wellington Airport is located only five km from the city centre, the drive takes about fifteen minutes. Shuttle buses run to and from the airport at a very reasonable price, although taxis are quicker (but more expensive). The airport runs national flights to the majority of other airports in New Zealand, as well as some to Australia and other South Pacific islands.