Maori carving guarding Omaha beach, Wellington
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Maori carving guarding Omaha beach, Wellington


Wellington travel guide

No longer Auckland’s fussy little sister, Wellington has enjoyed a meteoric rise in trendiness in recent years. Located on the southwestern tip of North Island, the national capital has firmly established itself as a destination for visitors thanks to an abundance of arts and cultural events and an increasingly innovative culinary scene.

Part of this upsurge in popularity is thanks to film director Peter Jackson, who shot both his Tolkien film trilogies here, turning the suburb of Miramar into a movie-making hub nicknamed ‘Wellywood’ and sparking a range of movie-themed city tours.

Films aside, Wellington enjoys a beautiful natural setting, nestled between a picturesque harbour and rolling green hills. The waterfront district, once a bustling port, has been rejuvenated and is now a great spot to absorb culture in art galleries and museums, and to dine, or party, late into the night. One of the waterfront’s most iconic landmarks is Te Papa, the city’s national museum, which dominates the skyline.

Wellington’s compact size means that it doesn’t take much effort to leave the urban sprawl behind for the greener pastures of the scenic countryside. You can hike through peaceful native bush, explore the rocky South Coast, or visit one of several nearby regional parks.

Adventure is never far away in New Zealand. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix by kayaking on the harbour, quad biking, mountain biking at Makara Peak, or scuba diving. Sun seekers should head for central Oriental Bay, which is a popular beach spot in summer - even if the sand has been imported. Lyall Bay is the place for surfing, while the Island Bay fishing village offers art deco gems, and Scorching Bay steals the award for the prettiest beach.

When it comes to leisure, Wellington's nightlife, dining and café culture are thriving. The city boasts more cafés per capita than New York City, while restaurants offer cuisines from Europe, Asia and Polynesia. As the local saying goes, Wellington can indeed claim to be the “coolest little capital in the world”.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.