According to Maori legend, Wellington Harbour was discovered by the explorer Kupe way back in AD 925. It was a further nine centuries before the earliest European visitors arrived to settle here, and from 1840, they started to arrive in large numbers. They named the settlement after the first Duke of Wellington and it was made the capital city of New Zealand in 1865. Today, it’s the southernmost capital on the planet. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by its large harbour set in a beautiful wooded landscape.
It has taken Wellington a while to fully establish itself as a tourist destination in its own right. In the past, the city was very much in the shadow of its bigger rival, Auckland, and was mostly used as a stopping point en route to the ferry to the South Island.
Today, visitors come to the city for its rich artistic and cultural scene, as well as its global reputation for movie making. Dubbed “Wellywood” by some visitors, Wellington is home to incredible sound stages, studios and special effects houses, which have made the city a major player in the international film industry. International blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar have been produced here.
When you arrive, head to the waterfront area and spend some time exploring the national museum of Te Papa, and the Museum of Wellington City and Sea.
If the hustle and bustle of the town isn’t for you, or you want some quiet time, the ocean and the beautiful countryside are right on Wellington’s doorstep. Wander along some of the walking trails that take you through the hills, or relax at Oriental Bay Beach close to the town centre.
Another great way to take in the views is on the short eight-minute ride on the famous Wellington Cable Car. At the top of the hill, enjoy the Wellington Botanic Garden and the lookout at Kelburn, before boarding the free shuttle bus, which will whisk you off to Zealandia where you can explore the country as it once was prior to the arrival of settlers.
Wellington also boasts plenty of good restaurants, cafés, theatres and nightclubs. You’ll never be far away from your next adventure in this compact city.