New Zealand’s capital city relishes the good life with its natural beauty, arts, culture and thriving movie industry.

Wellington is the planet’s southernmost capital city. It lies on the shores of a large harbor and is surrounded by wooded hills.

According to Māori legend the explorer Kupe discovered Wellington Harbor in A.D. 925. The first European settlers arrived in 1840 and named the settlement after the first Duke of Wellington. It became New Zealand’s capital city in 1865.

For many years Wellington was off the tourist radar. Overshadowed by Auckland, the city served merely as a gateway for those taking a ferry to South Island. But that has changed and Wellington has been called the "coolest little capital in the world." This reputation comes from, among other things, the city’s diverse arts and cultural activities, and its global reputation as a movie-making powerhouse. Sometimes referred to as “Wellywood,” Wellington’s multimillion-dollar sound stages, studios and special effects houses have attracted big-budget movies such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar.

Get acquainted with the city at the waterfront area where there are a number of star attractions, including Te Papa. This is New Zealand’s national museum and an excellent introduction to Wellington and the country. Nearby is the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, which covers the city’s development and maritime traditions.

Wellington benefits from having both the ocean and the countryside on its doorstep. Go on walking trails in the hills or take it easy at Oriental Bay Beach, the closest beach to the city.

One of the city’s oldest and most popular attractions is the Wellington Cable Car. Hop aboard a car for the eight-minute ride up the hill to Wellington Botanic Garden and the lookout at Kelburn. From there, take a free shuttle bus to Zealandia. This unique conservation project is trying to restore parts of the countryside to its pre-human state.

When it comes to nightlife Wellington has a plenty of restaurants, cafés, theaters and nightclubs. Being a compact city, many places are within an easy walking distance of each other.

Wellington Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Wellington

Courtenay Place featuring a bar and interior views as well as a small group of people

Te Aro

4.5/5Wonderful!(150 area reviews)

Travelers to Te Aro praise its popular shops. If you've got some more time to explore, be sure to make a stop by Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand) and Cuba Street Mall.

Te Aro
Wellington showing heritage architecture and street scenes

Aro Valley

3.5/5Good!(10 area reviews)

If you're spending time in Aro Valley, you might enjoy its restaurants and shopping. If you've got time to venture a little farther, you can make a stop by Zealandia or Cuba Street Mall.

Aro Valley
Oriental Bay Beach which includes a small town or village and a house

Oriental Bay

4.5/5Wonderful!(20 area reviews)

If you're spending some time in Oriental Bay, Oriental Parade and Oriental Bay Beach are top sights worth seeing.

Oriental Bay
Korokoro Waterfall

Korokoro

Korokoro might not have many top sights, but Maori Treasures and Petone Foreshore are two attractions nearby that you can check out.

Korokoro
Sunrise looking out over the south coast, on The Esplanade, Island Bay.

Houghton Bay

Travelers like the beaches in Houghton Bay, and Princess Bay is a top attraction you might want to visit.

Houghton Bay
St Paul\'s Cathedral which includes a church or cathedral, religious aspects and heritage architecture

Thorndon

4.5/5Wonderful!(10 area reviews)

While visiting Thorndon, you might make a stop by sights like Lambton Quay and Katherine Mansfield Birthplace.

Thorndon

Popular places to visit in Wellington

Te Papa
Image for Te Papa

Te Papa

4.5/5(160 reviews)

See, smell and touch the exhibits at New Zealand’s hi-tech and interactive free national museum.

Cuba Street Mall
Image for Cuba Street Mall

Cuba Street Mall

4/5(130 reviews)

Enjoy artisan coffees, sample specialty foods, browse through vintage shops or hunt for retro bargains in Wellington's bohemian heart.

Wellington Waterfront
Image for Wellington Waterfront

Wellington Waterfront

4.5/5(136 reviews)

Wellington Waterfront is one of the more well-known attractions to visit during your trip to Wellington. Discover the top-notch restaurants and acclaimed art scene in this walkable area.

Wellington Central Business District
Image for Wellington Central Business District

Wellington Central Business District

4/5(81 reviews)

Wellington Central Business District is just one of the places to see in Wellington, so why not enjoy the other things to explore during your travels? Experience the acclaimed art scene and fascinating museums in this walkable area.

TSB Bank Arena
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TSB Bank Arena

4/5(4 reviews)

Located on Wellington’s picturesque waterfront, this multipurpose venue hosts many events, including concerts, trade shows, art exhibitions and more.

Zealandia
Image for Zealandia

Zealandia

4.5/5(26 reviews)

Your best chance of seeing rare native species in the wild, this eco-attraction is a fenced valley that protects many native bird species.

Top things to do in Wellington

Skip The Queue: Gallipoli Exhibition at the Te Papa Museum
Image for Skip The Queue: Gallipoli Exhibition at the Te Papa Museum

Skip The Queue: Gallipoli Exhibition at the Te Papa Museum

¥1,064
Per adult
96% of travellers recommend
Wellington Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass
Image for Wellington Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass

Wellington Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass

¥3,191
Per adult
96% of travellers recommend
Lord of the Rings Tour
Image for Lord of the Rings Tour

Lord of the Rings Tour

¥7,801
Per adult
96% of travellers recommend
The Full Experience: Weta Workshop There and Back Again
Image for The Full Experience: Weta Workshop There and Back Again

The Full Experience: Weta Workshop There and Back Again

¥6,241
Per adult
92% of travellers recommend
Seal Colony & Farm Tour
Image for Seal Colony & Farm Tour

Seal Colony & Farm Tour

¥10,283
Per adult
92% of travellers recommend
Private 3HR Wellington City Tour
Image for Private 3HR Wellington City Tour

Private 3HR Wellington City Tour

¥34,744
Per adult

Reviews of Wellington

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
177
5 - Excellent 63.44086021505376%
4 - Good
82
4 - Good 29.39068100358423%
3 - Okay
15
3 - Okay 5.376344086021505%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 0.35842293906810035%
1 - Terrible
4
1 - Terrible 1.4336917562724014%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 15, 2020

Te Papa Museum and its Gallipoli Exhibition are must sees.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 6, 2020

really nice city and worth a 1.5 days visit

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Mar 6, 2020

We utilized the Uber scooters. These were a EXCELLENT way to see a lot of the city in a short period of time. We had 1 free day in Wellington and used them the entire day. Had we walked that, we would have been exhausted before dinner.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Feb 14, 2020

Very lively harbor area that has been revamped. Lots of music, bars, food.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jan 29, 2020

Liked the museums and cable car and gardens

5/5 - Excellent

Becca

Jan 22, 2020

Super city, especially in the sunshine.