Windy and wonderful – New Zealand's dynamic 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 opens in new window, 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 opens in new window 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 innovative, interactive Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa opens in new window. Located on the waterfront near the city’s many bustling cafés and bars, it showcases Maori and Pacific cultural treasures and the country’s extraordinary natural life, with important works of art and scientific and historic collections.
Take the quick stroll from Kelburn lookout to the Carter Observatory and Planetarium opens in new window and learn about the magic and science of Maori astronomy. As well as the historic Thomas Cooke telescope, you’ll find multimedia exhibits, interactive galleries and a digital, full-dome planetarium.
Top of the cable
Ride the cable car opens in new window from Lambton Quay in the CBD to the top entrance of the Botanic Garden and Kelburn lookout for spectacular views over Wellington.
Distance to city centre 8km
Taxi A taxi into central Wellington takes 15-25 minutes and costs NZD $30-40.
Shuttle SuperShuttle opens in new window transfers cost from NZD $20.
Bus The Airport Flyer opens in new window express bus departs every 10 minutes during peak hours, and 20 minutes at other times, taking around 45 minutes to the city centre. Local Metlink opens in new window bus route 11 between Wellington and Seatoun stops at the corner of Broadway and Hobart Streets, a 10-minute walk from the airport.
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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.Back to top
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.Back to top