Wellington, or Te Whanganui-a-Tara in Maori, is the capital of New Zealand and it sits on the south side of country’s North Island. It is New Zealand’s second largest city after Auckland, which was originally the capital city. Wellington was assigned as the capital in 1865, in order to have place more centrally located in the country.
- Name: Wellington
- Founded: 1839
- Population: 420,000
- Area: 442 km2 (171 sq mi)
- Known as: Capital of New Zealand, ‘The Windy City’
Wellington is a lovely city, with unique blend of culture, historical heritage and art. Sitting in the Wellington Harbor with a picturesque view, city is welcoming visitors with its many restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues. It is known as a culinary capital of New Zealand, among other things. It is also a man hub for exploration between South and North island of New Zealand.
Strong winds coming through the Cook Strait earned Wellington’s nickname – Windy City and geographical location makes it world’s southernmost capital.
Main attractions in Wellington
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. National museum and art gallery, this is New Zealand’s main museum exhibiting about native and colonial culture and natural history as well. Known as ‘Te Papa’, meaning ‘Our Place’.
ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary. A unique, urban wildlife sanctuary with many species, including rare birds, lizards, frogs and plants. Wellington Cable Car. A short trip on a historical funicular will give you opportunity for city views, and a visit to a history museum. Opened in 1902.
Wellington Botanic Garden. Located new city center, this protected garden, covering 25 hectares, is featuring native forest, conifers, plant collections and seasonal displays. Planted in 1868.
Wellington Zoo. Over 100 years old, Wellington Zoo is the oldest in New Zealand. Featuring over 100 species of fauna from New Zealand and around the world. This large green area offers animal activities and programs, themed playgrounds and picnic and leisure areas. Beehive. Popular name of beehive shaped wing of New Zealand parliament’s executive offices. Opened in 1969, offers free daily one hour tours.
Matiu/Somes Island. Located in Wellington Harbour, this small island is a home of protected flora and fauna, several historical buildings and a lighthouse. Wellington Museum. Unique museum with themed areas representing various times in regional history. Hosted in the 1892 building designed by architect Frederick de Jersey Clere.
Cuba Street. Colorful and amusing pedestrian area with the shopping mall. Many vintage shops and eateries. Very popular with tourists.
Space Place at Carter Observatory. Space museum and observatory, located on top of Botanical Garden. Featuring planetarium shows and interactive exhibits. Wellington Harbour. A natural harbour on the southern side of New Zealand’s North Island, with Wellington sitting on its west side.
Otari-Wilton’s Bush. Botanical garden featuring New Zealand’s plants, trees and wildlife. Offering walking paths and wildlife watching. Located north from Wellington.
Wellington Interislander Ferry Terminal. Main point for ferry travel from and to Wellington and around New Zealand. City Gallery Wellington. Contemporary art gallery with exhibits of local and international artists. Hosting various cultural events. Mount Victoria Lookout. Hilltop spot above Wellington, popular with tourists and locals alike for hiking, picnics and panoramic views of city and harbor.
Old St Paul’s. A 19-th century Gothic revival cathedral made of wood. Popular for events and weddings and offering guided tours. Wellington Waterfront. Waterfront area of Wellington, great for walks and discovery of city’s old and new landmarks, together with shops and various eateries.
Mount Kaukau. Mountain peak 445 meter high, north of Wellington offering scenic views of the city, harbor and surrounding mountains. Popular with climbers and hikers.
Lambton Quay. Central business district of Wellington, busy with people and traffic and popular for shopping as well. The Weta Cave. Special effect museum and a store. Featuring props used in “Lord of the Rings” and other films. Offering documentary screening and souvenir shop. Courtenay Place. Central street in Courtenay Quarter, popular for its entertainment, nightlife and many restaurants.
From other attractions we recommend: Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry Wellington Terminal, Red Rocks – Pariwhero, National War Memorial, New Zealand Parliament Buildings and Te Ngākau Civic Square.
Top things to do in Wellington
There are many things to do in and around Wellington. If you are classical art lover, you can enjoy a concert in the Michael Fowler Centre or a ballet performance in St James Theatre. The city has also many art gallery venues as well.
For food lovers, apart from many great restaurants and eateries in the city, we recommend day trips to one of nearby wineries with wine tasting.
Surrounding of Wellington is great for nature lovers, with gardens, hills and mountains, with many opportunities for walks and hikes.
During the summer time, you can enjoy whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving and snorkeling.
And don’t forget Lord of the Rings tour, if you are fan of those popular books and movies!
Festivals and events in Wellington
Wellington has quite a few annual festival and events, here are some top ones:
Wellington Cup Day (January), Coastella (February), New Zealand Festival (February-March), CubaDupa (March), NZ Fringe Festival (March), Jim Beam Homegrown (March), Highball and Wellington Cocktail Week (May), Wellington Jazz Festival (June), Visa Wellington On a Plate (August), Beervana (August), World of WearableArt Awards Show (September-October), HighLight: Carnival of Lights (October), LitCrawl (November), Toast Martinborough (November), Summer City (December – March).
Interesting facts about Wellington
Here are some interesting facts about this wonderful city:
- Wellington was built on a reclaimed land after earthquakes in 19th century.
- City’s population increased over 40% at the beginning of the 21st century, due to construction boom.
- Wellington cafes serve one of the strongest coffee you will ever taste.
Best time to fly to Wellington
The peak season for flights to Wellington is February, September and December. The low season for purchasing tickets is May, October and November.
Wellington is served by Wellington International Airport (WLG). Direct flights to Wellington are offered by 3 airlines.