Wellington, New Zealand City Info
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Australia and Oceania > New Zealand
Wellington




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Wellington has one of the world's most beautiful harbors. The waterfront area between downtown and Oriental Bay is a popular recreation area for visitors and city residents alike.

 

Wellington is located in the centre of New Zealand at the southern end of the North Island. The capital city is surrounded by Wellington harbor and hills arrayed in the lush, dense, subtropical vegetation of the New Zealand bush.  From the city centre it is only a quick drive to mountains, open countryside and rugged coastlines.

 

Wellington's collection of historical timber houses is displayed on the green hills surrounding the harbor. The wooden theme is carries over to Old St Paul's Church, Katherine Mansfield Birthplace, Antrim House, historical Thorndon, and the Old Government Buildings (which are the largest wooden structure in the Southern Hemisphere).

 

The area’s early settlers, the Maori inhabited this land  about 1000 years ago. Their culture and traditional way of life included hunting, hungi (a feast) and marae (a communal 'plaza' area that includes a wharenui (meeting house) and wharekai (dining room). Today Maori people live throughout New Zealand, and many are actively involved with keeping their culture and language alive. Within any Maori community, the marae provides a focus for social, cultural and spiritual life.

 

Traditional carvers also help to keep Maori culture alive by creating intricate works that pay respect to the past. Every piece carved tells a story, which can be read by those who know how. The shape of the heads, position of the body as well as the surface patterns work together to record and remember events.  The ancient beliefs of Maori culture are recognized and respected by New Zealand's leaders today.

 

Wellington is the cultural heart of New Zealand and is home to the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the National Opera and the National dance and drama schools.  All perform regularly in the city. Three professional theatres offer audiences a range from alternative to Pacific Island, New Zealand, or international productions. There is a live show every night in Wellington.

 

At the southern end of Lambton Quay there is an array of noteworthy structures starting with the parliamentary buildings. The Victorian Gothic Parliamentary Library, the Edwardian neo-classical Parliament House, and the 1960s style 'Beehive' (the executive wing of the parliamentary complex) all contribute architecturally to the historic interest of the site. 

 

Walk around Queens Wharf to Oriental Bay for a swim at the golden sand beach. Try sea kayaking, rollerblading and rock-climbing.  There are many additional walking trails to follow, from coastal tracks to hikes through the hills. Mountain biking is also a popular Wellington sport, and rental bikes are available. 

 

A popular family venue is Otari-Wilton’s Bush, the only public botanic garden in the country devoted entirely to the cultivation, study and preservation of native plants.

 

From Lambton Quay a cable car runs up to the Wellington Botanic Garden, where there are 26 acres of remarkable gardens, native bush, and lawn areas to examine and enjoy. There are many sculptures and carvings in the gardens. Artists featured include Henry Moore, Andrew Drummond, and Chris Booth.  There are also several unique fountains and sundials given by other countries.   The Peace Garden's eternal flame comes from a fire created by the atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima. The flame was presented by the people of Japan as a salute to New Zealand’s efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons.  The Botanic gardens also houses the Carter Observatory and Planetarium and a unique children’s play area and family picnic grounds.

 

From that vantage point, atop Mount Victoria, one can look out over Wellington city, the harbor and the Cook Strait.  Back down in the city centre, it is only a quick drive to mountains, open countryside and rugged coastlines.  Take the Cook Strait ferry for a trip across to the South Island. Take in the hot, dry climate of Marlborough before heading over the Southern Alps to the rugged West Coast. Drive south and take a journey through to Fiordland, the Southern Lakes and onto Stewart Island with its crystal-clear waters and scenic walking tracks.  Wellington is ideally located for exploration of both the North and South Islands. 

 

Wellington is the gateway to many unique travel adventures, and is an outstanding vacation destination.