New Zealand’s capital and most bohemian city, Wellington fits a lot of cool into a small space. The variable weather means that there are plenty of things to do both inside and out – beaches, kayaking and hiking abound when the sun is out, while galleries, fantastic restaurants and cafes and the best museum in the country await when the wind and rain blow in. No matter where your interests lie, Wellington will easily provide plenty of entertainment.
High on most visitor’s list is Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. Entry is free and spending several hours wandering around the interactive exhibitions and collections is highly recommended to learn more about New Zealand’s history and culture.
Given that Peter Jackson’s Weta Studios are based in the city and much of the filming was done nearby, it’s no surprise that Wellington makes the most of it’s Lord of the Rings connections. There’s plenty of opportunity to go hobbit spotting at the various film locations in the area, either self-guided or as part of a tour.
Cuba Street is the cultural heart of Wellington, with dozens of great bars and cafes, quirky shops and equally quirky inhabitants. Other awesome areas to check out are the pubs and clubs in Courtenay Place, the boutique shopping in Lambton Quay and College St and the various weekend craft and food markets dotted all around the city.
The city plays host to literally dozens of festivals and exhibitions every year – to find out what is on while you’re in town, check out the regularly updated list of upcoming events here. Consider booking your accommodation well in advance if you’re going to be in town during any of the major events that hit Wellington every year, as hotels can book out quickly.
If time is short, consider taking a half day or full day guided tour of Wellington and it’s surroundings to get a good feel for what makes this city tick. For the more energetic, mountain bike tours are also a fantastic option, giving you the chance to enjoy the great outdoors without the hassle of arranging it all yourself.
Golfers can also check out the famous Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, less than an hour out of town and host to a record 12 New Zealand Open tournaments on the PGA tour of Australasia.
Distances: 650km from Auckland, 370km from Taupo
Best time to visit: The weather is best in summer and early autumn (November through April) but is unpredictable all year round. Sunshine, rain, wind – anything goes, often all in the same day!
How long to spend there: Allow at least three or four days, more if you want to explore the surrounding area as well
Things to know: Wellington is a very compact city which makes it easily explorable on foot, but the hilly terrain makes for some very steep streets! Always take a wind and rain proof jacket regardless of the conditions when you leave your hotel – things can quickly change!