If you are interested in arts and culture, Wellington is the place for you! New Zealand’s cultural capital offers everything from high drama to low-down funk. It’s home to the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Opera.
We also love making movies in Wellington! On the 1st of December 2003 Wellington hosted the World Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Crowds massing close to 120,000 lined Wellington's streets to salute The Lord of the Rings filmmakers and stars as they paraded through the central city in open top classic cars. The population of Wellington City is 180,000 and around 440,000 in the region so this was a great turn out for the city.
Not only is Wellington the cultural capital of New Zealand but it is also the culinary capital as well and famous for its tucked-away bars (with award-winning bartenders), trendy cafes, restaurants with more than a fair share of awards, and some of the best coffee in NZ (and probably the world!) – if in doubt just ask for a flat white – it's what we’re good at!
Wellington is also world famous in New Zealand for its nightlife. You'll find stylish cocktail bars hidden off Tory St, dance clubs and pubs on Courtenay Place or live music from local and visiting bands on Cuba St. So whatever you’re into you’ll find it after dark in Wellington and the best thing about it is that these three iconic streets are all within walking distance so you can be tempted to step out of your comfort zone, let your hair down and try something new just around the corner.
Nature on your doorstep!
Few capital cities in the world offer the proximity to nature experiences that Wellington does. Less than 10 minutes drive from downtown Wellington, there are breathtaking nature spots, including ZEALANDIA: The Karori Sancturary Experience and Wellington’s rugged South Coast. You can also enjoy riverside strolls and walks through native forests in the Hutt Valley which is just a 15 minute drive from the heart of Wellington city.
It’s the accessibility of New Zealand’s great outdoors which makes Wellington and the Hutt Valley so special. Explore the many treks through the Rimutaka Forest Park, the home of a community of kiwis which you may know as New Zealand’s iconic bird, which were released back into the wild. Walkers and cyclists can enjoy easy adventures along the Pencarrow Coast to walk around New Zealand's first lighthouse, or New Zealands first dam in the Korokoro Gorge. All the Hutt Valley hills provide fantastic views across the harbour to Wellington city and even to the South Island. Lord of the Rings fans will want to explore Kaitoke Regional Park, the filming location for Rivendell. The Hutt River also offers pristine conditions for trout fishing and 28km of easy walking and cycling trails.
The Wider Wellington Region
The region around Wellington City positively sparkles with attractions, events, activities, fine dining and great accommodation.
Pick of the bunch for the well-heeled would be Wharekauhau, where a short but dramatic helicopter ride from the city lands you right in the middle of the Wairarapa countryside. Delicious meals and pampered luxury go together, don’t you think?
Your stay in the Wairarapa, whether in Wharekauhau or the famous New Zealand style Bed and Breakfast accommodation, would naturally include a visit to any or many vineyards of Martinborough; quaint villages of Greytown or Lake Ferry, on the wild south coast; and for nature lovers, please visit Mr Bruce, an extensive bird sanctuary, where they are doing so much to save and nurture endangered native species.
Have you ever heard of Kapiti Island? Arrange a visit to this very special place, huge in our history as the island kingdom of the fearsome Maori chief Te Rauparaha, more lately a marine, animal and bird reserve. An overnight stay on the island as guest of John Barrett and his whanau (family) will etch itself onto your memory as a slice of real New Zealand – otherwise visit for the day for wonderful walks and plentiful birdlife. This coastline also has a beauty all of its own, and has been renamed 'Nature Coast' in recent years to emphasis this fact.
The Wellington region has more parks and forests than you can poke a stick at – great for walks or bike-rides – just grab a map from the friendly Visitor Information Centres (called i-SITES in New Zealand) and get out there!