Hugged by picturesque hillsides and a magnificent harbor, Wellington is New Zealand’s most appealing city. Although its rival, Auckland, has much to offer, the capital is home to a wealth of cultural and artistic treasures, galleries, theaters, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. The words “I’m bored” never come out of the mouths of travelers there, and most find themselves wishing they had longer to explore this hip, dynamic and downright beautiful city.
Te Papa is the biggest “must-see” in the capital. The national museum of New Zealand is fun, very interactive and full of delightful surprises. Appropriately, the museum’s name translates as “treasure box,” and inside, visitors will find an amazing collection of Maori artifacts and natural history and environment exhibitions. The museum is also home to the national art collection, galleries dedicated to the history of both the country and region and hands-on discovery centers made for children but enjoyed by adults too. Most of the displays have a high-tech twist, like simulator rides and interactive elements. The six floors of Te Papa take at least a full day to explore, but if you have less time, take the one-hour introductory tour that highlights the best of the collection.
The Museum of Wellington City and Sea takes the interactive aspects of Te Papa and applies them to the city’s social and maritime history. Imaginative and innovative, the exhibits tell the stories of ancient Maori legends and include moving documentaries about the Wahine and other sea tragedies.
There are a number of other impressive museums in Wellington, each giving visitors a glimpse into part of the country’s culture, history and people. The New Zealand Cricket Museum bowls over fans of the sport with historical memorabilia, the National Tattoo Museum includes thousands of examples of skin art, including both traditional and contemporary styles, and the Cable Car Museum tells the story of the interesting mode of transportation.
From the museum, visitors can enjoy the old-time thrills of riding in a cable car to the Wellington Botanic Gardens. The 25-hectare gardens includes a stretch of native forest lined with varied collections including international plant collections and an enchanting rose garden. Other charms at the gardens include a duck pond, cheerful playground, magical city views, sculptures, a terraced cafe and more, making it a delightful place to spend a day.
The Carter Observatory, located at the top of the gardens, is home to a full-dome planetarium. Regular shows present virtual tours of the skies above the city, and the center also includes a fine collection of telescopes, plenty of astronomical artifacts and a multimedia display detailing the techniques of Maori cosmology and Polynesian navigation.
Environmentalists and adventurers have long hailed New Zealand’s natural environment. The country’s separation from other lands has facilitated the evolution and survival of many ancient animals and plants, and you can see many of them up close at Zealandia. The groundbreaking eco-sanctuary is just two kilometers outside of Wellington, and the fenced valley is home to over 30 native bird species, such as saddleback, rare takahe, hihi and kaka. The lush grounds also include the country’s largest wild population of little spotted kiwi and tuatara. There are more than 30 kilometers of trails to be explored, and the night tours offer a rare opportunity to spot nocturnal glowworms, kiwi and frogs.
Other must-see sights in the capital include the conservation-focused Wellington Zoo, the National Library of New Zealand, the contemporary City Gallery, the kids’ complex at Capital E, the English Gothic Old St. Paul’s church, Matiu-Somes Island, the austere Parliament House and the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in the historic waterfront district.
Wellington Geographical Location
Wellington is located on the Northern Island on its southern tip. It faces the Cook Straight and is the third most populated urban area in New Zealand with approximately 400,000 people.
English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand. Other common languages throughout the country are Samoan, French, Hindi, Yue, and Northern Chinese among others with many speaking multiple languages.
Wellington Predominant Religion
- 30% None
- 16% Other
- 14% Anglican
- 13% Roman Catholic
- 10% Presbyterian, Congregational, and Reformed
- 5% Christian (with no specificity)
- 3% Methodist
- 2% Pentecostal
- 1% Baptist
- 2% Maori Christian
- 2% Hindu
- 1% Buddhist
New Zealand’s diverse religious demographics are evidence of its religious tolerance and absence of a national religion.
The Pound Sterling is the official currency of Northern Ireland.
Wellington has a cool temperature all year round with June through August being the coolest months. Wellington does experience cold winds and rain throughout the year while June and July are the wettest months.
Wellington Main Attractions
- Te Papa Museum
- Cable Car Museum
- Wellington Zoo
Other Attraction in Wellington
- Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
- St James Theatre and Opera House
- Wellington City Art Gallery