Wellington Destination Guide
Perched at the south-western tip of New Zealand's North Island, Wellington has the honour of being the southernmost capital city in the world. The city is compact and neat, its performing arts thrive and it boasts an attractive blend of art, culture, cuisine and scenery – it’s no wonder then that 'Welly' has earned the moniker “the coolest little capital in the world”. The culture capital, creative capital, craft beer capital, cuisine capital and actual certified capital of Aotearoa New Zealand, Wellington boasts a stunning harbour at her forefront and rural beauty around the edges. With the wine producing Wairarapa within an hour’s drive and great walking and cycling trails squiggled across the region, Wellington’s charms certainly don’t end at the city limits.
Orient yourself in Wellington by taking in the panoramic views from the Mount Victoria Lookout – equally beautiful at dawn or dusk – before trundling downhill and making a beeline for the illustrious national museum Te Papa. Easily one of the top things to do in Wellington, Te Papa offers an unrivalled look at the stories of New Zealand and pushes the concept of a “museum” to its very limits. Next, take a peek behind the “Wellywood” film industry at Weta Cave, the award-winning design and special effects troupe responsible for blockbusters including The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Finish your Wellington holidays as you started them with a stunning view of the city, this time from the vantage point of the Wellington Cable Car at the peak of the Botanic Gardens.
Eat and Drink
Fresh, seasonal, local produce is king when it comes to Wellington restaurants and cafes. Touted as a destination where food and wine are “made for each other”, tasting your way around this city is highly encouraged. Whether you're seeking fine dining or simple fare, Courtenay Place and Cuba Street have plenty of palate pleasers tucked in every nook and cranny – there is always a secret backroom, basement or rooftop establishment to be discovered. With breweries and wineries by the barrelful, Wellington is just the place to whet your whistle too. Follow the trail of craft beer brewers or boutique vineyards at your own pace or join one of the many Wellington food and wine tours to drink in the stunning scenery (and Pinot).
New Zealand's cool capital is always hot on the trail of the latest trends. Shopping in Wellington means access to New Zealand’s most sought-after designers, popular international brands, artisan crafts and take-home market goodies, quality vintage stores and charming suburban boutiques. Fossick for souvenirs and wardrobe staples along the “Golden Mile” formed by Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Manners Street and Courtenay Place, or pleasantly while away a few hours in the bohemian Cuba Quarter. Make your way to the water’s edge near Te Papa of a Sunday morning and double the fun with the Harbourside Market and City Market – forget the predictable “Kiwiana” and spoil the folks back home with a selection of gourmet gifts.
Wellington like a Local
Make sure you pack a windcheater and some layers no matter what time of year you book your flights to Wellington, so you can beat the notorious Wellington weather woes and do as the locals do: head down and soldier on against the gusts. They don’t call it “Windy Wellington” for nothing! If you're an arts lover, it's worth checking if your holiday dates coincide with any of the popular Wellington events such as New Zealand Festival, World of WearableArt awards, or Wellington Jazz Festival. Wellingtonians are also fiercely supportive of their local culinary culture. Start your day with a flat white from a local coffee roaster, end it with a craft beer and you will fit in just fine.