Windy and wonderful capital city
Popularly known as the Windy City or Windy Wellington, the nation’s capital is a hilly harbour city with a fascinating mix of old and new architecture. Divided into four urban areas, Wellington’s surrounding suburbs border the horseshoe- shaped harbour. The harbour is fed by the Cook Strait, which separates the North and South Islands and is just 22km wide at its narrowest point.
It’s where travellers can take a ferry south but it’s also where the nation’s politicians come to work, which means the place is flooded with civil servants of all persuasions. Home to the third largest population of any New Zealand city, Wellington is a thriving business and cultural base for companies and people who love the ease of life here. As such, it’s also a great place to visit because most activities and sights are within easy reach.
Things to do
Birds and the bees
Ride the free shuttle from outside the cable-car museum at Kelburn lookout to Zealandia, a 225ha eco-attraction that’s home to some of New Zealand’s rarest birds, reptiles and insects. It’s just 10 minutes from Wellington.
Lights, camera, action!
Step onto a movie location by visiting Mount Victoria, Hutt River, Harcourt Park, Kaitoke Regional Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Waitarere Forest or the Wairarapa Region, where many scenes from the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed.
Live and learn
To deepen your local knowledge, visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, located on the waterfront near the city’s many bustling cafés and bars. It’s open year-round, thus ensuring that nobody need miss exhibitions under headings like Art, History, Pacific, Maori and Nature.
Take the quick stroll from Kelburn lookout to the Carter Observatory and Planetarium. It’s open late on Tuesdays and Saturdays, weather permitting.
Top of the cable
Ride the cable car from Lambton Quay in the CBD to the top entrance of the Botanic Garden and Kelburn lookout for spectacular views over Wellington.
Travel time 20 minutes
Taxi Approx NZD $35
SuperShuttle from NZD $22
Aiport Flyer Bus every 20 minutes. One-way NZD $6-12 (adult), NZD $4-7 (child). Journey takes 45 minutes.
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When to go
The summer season from the end of each year to around Easter is the optimum time to make the most of Wellington outdoors, though temperatures rarely exceed 25°C. Thanks to proximity to the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean, winter can be very windy and wet, with temperatures as low as 4°C, though the city caters well for warm indoor activities. The biennial International Festival of the Arts rounds out the end of summer with nearly a month of dance, theatre, writers, musicians and all manner of other arty types. Taking place every even year since 1986, it lives up to its name and is the jewel in the crown of the capital’s richly deserved cultural reputation.
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Metlink Wellington is your one-stop shop for buses, trains and harbour ferries into, out of and around the city. There are four rail lines, over 100 bus routes and four harbour ferry stops. The Snapper smart card is an economical way to pay for buses, taxis, the cable car and even street parking. It’s available at newsagents and other retailers.
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