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.
Shopping, Museums and Skyscrapers
Get hands on as you learn about the heritage of these islands at New Zealand's free national museum.
Shop, wine and dine in this culinary hot spot on one of Wellington's most fashionable streets.
Enjoy artisan coffees, sample specialty foods, browse through vintage shops or hunt for retro bargains in Wellington's bohemian heart.
Get up close to cuddly big cats, playful pandas, elegant giraffes and cheeky gibbons at the country's oldest zoo.
Explore the corridors of power on a tour of the unique beehive-shaped home of New Zealand’s Parliament.
Stroll along a scenic walkway through a pretty Wellington Town Belt reserve to this lookout for spectacular panoramic views of the city.
Get acquainted with New Zealand's second largest city, the world's most southerly capital. Take in spectacular views of this city surrounded by water—its iconic architectural landmarks as well as its scenic coast—from the most stunning vantage points.
Lord of the Rings fans unite on this tour of the sprawling New Zealand countryside, where the majority of the famous movie series was filmed. Visit locations you remember from the movies, explore the stunning natural environment, and learn secrets of how the films' epic scenes came to be.
A great guided tour and Wellington’s 10 best hop-off stops Hop on board one of our minibuses and traverse Wellington’s winding streets on our intimate and informative 90min guided Tour.
Enter the exciting world of filmmaking with this immersive, behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand's Weta Workshop. You’ll enjoy return transfers from Wellington i-SITE to Weta Studio Tours, where you’ll explore the Weta Cave Workshop Tour.
Enter the world of Weta Workshop with There and Back Again: The Full Experience, a guided round trip by Weta Studio Tours! You’ll enjoy return transfers from Wellington i-SITE to Weta Studio Tours, where you’ll explore the Weta Cave Workshop Tour and the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go.
Unleash your inner ninja and relive your recess days by zipping, jumping, and swinging through the lush tree canopy of the Bay of Plenty. The 6 unique courses offer the perfect opportunity for you to navigate past thrilling obstacles between the trees, on bridges, wires, and extensive ziplines.