Wellington is New Zealand’s creative capital as well as political, thanks to a thriving arts and film scene.
Hemmed in by steep hills on one side and the harbour on the other, Wellington’s many attractions, including parliament buildings, museums, libraries, galleries and theatres can mostly be explored on foot - although you must take the cable car from Lambton Quay up to the Botanical Gardens, for great views of the harbour.
At Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, you’ll need two or three days to appreciate the treasure of information, including permanent exhibitions of NZ’s natural heritage, Kiwi culture, Maori traditions and life in the Pacific. There are interactive displays, virtual rides and fun children’s areas, making the museum a must for families.
Transporting about a million passengers a year, the Interislander is a ferry service between Wellington and Picton; ie the North and South Islands. The 92km trip, one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, is a leisurely three hours. Take in the spectacular views of Wellington Harbour, the wide expanse of Cook Strait and the majestic vistas of Queen Charlotte Sound. You may even be lucky enough to catch sight of a dolphin.
For a true Kiwi experience, Zealandia Eco sancturary is only minutes from downtown Wellington. To protect the wildlife and ensure the forest regenerates to its former glory, a predator-proof fence surrounds this haven for endangered native birds and other wildlife. This is the most accessible of NZ’s main conservation islands, with tours available day and night.
In the Courtenay Quarter you’ll find a colourful collection of entertainment, fashion, art and food. It’s the prime nightlife spot in the city.
The Wellington Writers’ Walk takes you on a journey of the mind and the senses as it pairs harbour views with poems that resonate with the essence of the city. Featured are 11 poems cast in concrete, from the pens and keyboards of distinguished, accomplished writers who have called Wellington home at some point. They include Katherine Mansfield, Robin Hyde, Denis Glover, Bruce Mason and Vincent O’Sullivan.
What to do
- Discover native wildlife at the Karori Sanctuary
- Take the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens
- Spend a day at Te Papa
- Walk along the waterfront from the inner city to Oriental Bay
- Take a tour of Parliament