Welcome to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city! Come and find an escape that’s inspiring and colourful, remembered for the laughter and great conversations, fascinating for the things you’ve never seen before. Around this part of New Zealand, there’s a feeling of innovation that shows up wherever you go – it’s in the imaginative, interactive exhibitions of the national museum Te Papa and the local galleries. It’s even expressed in the menus of the restaurants and boutique hotels that thrive in the district. Perched on the edge of a spectacular harbour, encircled by green, towering hills, Wellington is a stunning and compact city. Vibrant, exciting and cultured, the nation’s capital combines the stimulation and sophistication of a big city with the quirkiness of a charming village. Extending just two kilometres in diameter, Wellington is a truly “walking city”. Here you’ll find a unique blend of national treasures, arts and culture, gastronomic delights, shopping sensations and scenic beauty, making Wellington the ultimate urban destination in New Zealand.
Wellington has a feast of cultural attractions and its crowning glory is New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa. Situated on Wellington’s magnificent waterfront, this internationally acclaimed museum combines leading edge technology with traditional exhibits to tell the stories of New Zealand’s land and people. With over 50 other museums and galleries including the stunning and contemporary City Gallery, three professional theatres and headquarters for the Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wellington can truly lay claim to the title Arts and Cultural Capital.
Every two years, the city plays host to the New Zealand Festival. Bigger than the Edinburgh Festival in box-office takings, this month-long arts Festival is a smorgasbord of theatre, music, dance, comedy and opera and fringe, attracting thousands of visitors to the city. The best way to discover Wellington is on foot. You can walk the length of Downtown Wellington in 30 minutes, exploring the contrasts of each of the four quarters that make up Downtown Wellington.
From shopping arcades to elegant department stores, designer boutiques and local arts and craft, to funky cafes and markets, to elegant civic architecture, and a 24-hour neon playground of bars, cafés and restaurants, Downtown Wellington celebrates its compact diversity at every turn. Wellington’s stunning scenery makes exploring outdoors a real highlight. From visiting seal colonies in the wild, to soaring through the air on the world’s first Fly By Wire ride, the Capital offers many unique and exciting adventure activities. Wellington’s central location at the bottom of the North Island makes it a perfect jumping off point to see the rest of the country. But you don’t have to go far to enjoy a more native and rural New Zealand. Within one hour of the Capital is the wildlife sanctuary of Kapiti Island, the wine village of Martinborough, and the scenic beauty of the Marlborough Sounds. The Capital city enjoys a temperate coastal climate with notably mild and sunny winters. Home to just 157,000 in central Wellington, with 337,000 making up the wider Wellington region, it’s a small city with a huge heart.
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Striking Architecture - Both Old and New
Nothing defines a city’s character quite as aptly as its architecture. In Wellington’s case it not only defines it, it distinguishes it as well. The most striking feature is the collection of historical timber houses perched in the green hills surrounding the harbour. The wooden theme is a consistent one, whether visiting Old St Paul’s Cathedral, Katherine Mansfield’s birth place, Antrim House, historical Thorndon or the Old Government Buildings – the largest wooden structure in the Southern hemisphere.
Sweeping city views
Catch the Cable Car from Lambton Quay up to the Botanic Gardens then wander down through 26 acres of specialist gardens, native bush and lawn areas to historical Thorndon, New Zealand’s oldest suburb. Or take in the 360 degree panoramas of Wellington city, harbour and the Cook Strait from the top of Mount Victoria. Drive, catch a bus or walk up via the green belt to the summit.
Exercise Your Walking Shoes Along Wellington’s Waterfront
Exploring Wellington’s waterfront on foot is a pleasant way to spend a morning or afternoon. Start at Queens Wharf and follow the harbour around past Te Papa and Chaffers Marina to Oriental Bay, where you will find cafes and an enticing stretch of golden sand. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent here on waterfront developments over the past ten years.
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- Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum set on Wellington’s waterfront.
- Visitors can get a unique insight into New Zealand and learn about the land and its people
- Tours of New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings provide an insight into New Zealand’s political heritage
- The Museum of Wellington City and Sea presents stories of Wellington in an interactive and entertaining way
- Visit Katherine Mansfield’s Birthplace the childhood home of the famous writer. Intricately restored to match the descriptions of the house in her stories
- Take a cable car ride from downtown Wellington up to the Botanic Gardens for sweeping views of the city and harbour
- Capital E will keep children amused for hours
- See a live show, concert or performance any night of the week
- Enjoy animal antics at Wellington Zoo
- Stroll from the city to Oriental Bay. The energetic can continue up through the green belt to the summit of Mount Victoria for a 360-degree panorama of Wellington.
- Harbour cruises go from the city across to Days Bay, home to seaside cafes and quality craft shops
- It’s easy to charter a boat for a fishing excursion around Wellington Harbour, Cook Strait or the Marlborough Sounds
- Boats take visitors to Somes/Matiu Island Reserve in Wellington Harbour, a former quarantine and prisoner of war island
- It’s fun to hire a sea kayak and paddle around the picturesque bays of Wellington Harbour
- Take a 4WD (four-wheel drive) tour to Red Rocks seal colony, on the south coast of the city
- Enjoy sea kayaking, diving and boating in the Kapiti Island Marine Reserve areas