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.