Wellington Destination Guide
Set on a stunning harbour and rimmed by hills, Wellington is one cool little capital. Set at the south-western tip of New Zealand's North Island, Wellington has the honour of being the southernmost capital city in the world. It's compact and neat, the performing arts thrive and there's an attractive blend of art, culture, tasty food and gorgeous scenery. Wellington has a far denser central population than Auckland due to the surrounding hills, but these hills provide great lookouts across the region. There are wine-producing areas within a 1-hour drive and be sure to pack sturdy shoes to enjoy the many walking trails.
Orient yourself in Wellington with the view from Mount Victoria Lookout before making a beeline for the interactive Museum of New Zealand Te Papa. Here you'll get an unrivalled look at the geology, history and stories of the peoples of New Zealand. Peek at 'Wellywood' at the Weta Cave, the shopfront of the award-winning design, special effects and manufacturing facility responsible for many blockbusters, including Lord of the Rings. Watching the planetarium show and stargazing at Carter Observatory is a treat too. Nature-lover? You may appreciate the home for some of the country's rarest animals at Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience.
Fresh produce is king in Wellington restaurants and quirky cafes. Tasting your way around this city is a delight, whether you're seeking fine dining or simple fare. Head to Courtenay Place or Cuba Street for the good stuff. There's an array of multicultural cuisine on offer across Wellington though and with many regional breweries and wineries, this is quite the city in which to whet your whistle too. You can download a trail of specialist craft beer brewers before visiting so you know just where to wander when you arrive. Hope on a wine tour to please the palate – even if you don't drink, the scenery is lovely.
Cosy bed and breakfast? Idyllic holiday cottage? Upscale city hotel? Self-contained apartment? Wellington accommodation provides a sleeping haven to welcome any budget. The surrounding hills, coastline and hinterland provide pretty escapes from city bustle if you don't want to stay right in town – perfect for the romantically inclined. There are international brand names downtown too and if you're a culture lover with a few dollars in your Wellington hotel budget, you may appreciate Museum Art Hotel. It's a luxury property with 66 original artworks by a selection of local artists.
New Zealand's cool capital is hot on retail options. Shopping in Wellington means access to top New Zealand designers, international brands, fine local produce, quirky markets, vintage stores and suburban boutiques. If you want to fossick for treasures here, pleasantly while away a few hours on Cuba, Willis, Victoria, Wakefield and Featherston Streets. Lambton Quay is also chock-full of shopping options in downtown Wellington. If you're near Te Papa on a Sunday morning, the Harbourside Market is next door, offering fine coffee, cheeses, olives, condiments and confectionery, in addition to fruit and vegetables.
Wellington like a Local
Wellington is windy. Take a fleece no matter what time of year you book your Wellington flight. If you're an arts and music buff, it's worth checking if your holiday dates coincide with the New Zealand International Arts Festival or the Wellington Jazz Festival. You might find reference to 'Wellywood' during your research – this city is a creative powerhouse for film, production, post-production and special effects. Films shot partly or wholly in Wellington include the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong and Avatar. The eastern suburb of Miramar is home to much of the film-related infrastructure.