Many think that because Auckland is the country’s largest city, it is also its capital. That’s not true, however, as the culinary and arts centre of New Zealand is its primary city: Wellington.
Whether you’re passing through on an end-to-end road trip holiday of Aotearoa or you want to explore the southern North Island on its own, this great place is one of the country’s must-visit destinations.
Wellington at a glance
‘Wellywood’ is a diverse place, despite being far smaller than its more northern, sprawling counterpart of Auckland. Here, you’ll find more cafes and restaurants per capita than New York City, not to mention New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa. Wellington is also the home of the word famous Weta Studios, the magic behind Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies.
Whether you’re wandering Courtenay Place in the CBD or exploring the wider area by rental car, you’ll find an absolute plethora of things to see and do. With a population of only just over 200,000 people, it has a small but vibrant culture that is unlike many other political capitals.
Where to visit on your Wellington holiday
What type of activities are you looking to do in Wellington? Here we’ve broken it down to give you an idea of where to go and what do search for.
For history and culture
As we suggested, Te Papa is a must visit. This is the country’s national museum, with exhibitions that span everything from local history to Maori culture to geology and science (55 Cable St, Wellington, see website). Also recommended is a trip to the Parliament Buildings, affectionately known as the Beehive due to it’s unique architectural design, for a free guided tour (Molesworth Street, Wellington, see website). Another not-to-be-missed tour is the behind-the-scenes look at Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop at the Weta Cave and a short drive from the central business district ( 1 Weka St, Miramar, see website).
For animals and nature
Get your animal fix by driving over to Wellington Zoo ( 200 Daniell St,Newtown, see website). Not to be missed is also a charming ride up the Wellington Cable Car and and walk about the extensive Botanic Gardens – 25 hectares of stunning floral displays (280 Lambton Quay, Wellington, 6011). If you venture outside of the city, you’ll also find a wide range of nature walks and attractions.