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There's just something about New Zealand’s capital city that can enchant any visitor, not just on one of its legendary 'good days' but even when the wind is blowing.
Nestled between steep green hills and a beautiful natural harbour, Wellington's city centre boasts all manner of delights, whether you’re after a hedonistic shopping and dining extravaganza or an eye-opening cultural experience. Its well-developed waterfront area is a recreational paradise, with wide paths, intriguing sculptures, a poetry walk, plenty of seating and a fantastic children’s playground at Frank Kitts Park.
Cultural highlights include must-visit institutions like Te Papa (New Zealand’s national museum), the City Gallery, and the award-winning Museum of Wellington City & Sea. Wellington has many fascinating examples of classic architecture – see the iconic Beehive, New Zealand's main parliamentary building, and the Old Government Buildings, the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit Old Saint Paul's Cathedral, a fine example of Revival Gothic architecture.
Browse the shops along posh Lambton Quay or funky Cuba Street, home to the beloved Bucket Fountain. Choose from a myriad of bars and eateries in the nightlife and theatre district between Cuba and Courtenay Place, from the swanky Logan Brown to the finger-licking comfort food of Sweet Mother’s Kitchen.
Film buffs have plenty to love in Wellington – it’s the home of the famous Weta Workshop, several areas in the region were used as locations for the Lord of the Rings films, and it was here that world premieres were held for the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, King Kong and the first film in the Hobbit trilogy.
While the city is compact in design and many key Wellington attractions can be reached by foot, a great way to find your bearings and get a real feel for the city is to take a half-day sightseeing tour by coach.
Stand atop the summit of Mount Victoria and savour sweeping views over the city and across the harbour. See the Wellington Botanic Gardens, where lush native bush and stunning rose gardens are spread over 25 hectares, intermixed with sculptural artworks, playgrounds and water features.
Just outside the city are numerous beaches and bays, each with their own distinct character. Some are windswept and rocky; others have calm shores and fine golden sand. Journey along its most beautiful coastal areas: Oriental Bay, the inner-city beach fringed by terraced houses and restaurants, and around the Miramar Peninsula and southern coastline. See the picturesque seaside suburb of Seatoun, as well as Pencarrow and the Baring Head Lighthouse, while enjoying unobstructed views of Wellington's harbour entrance. On a clear day you’ll be able to see all the way across Cook Strait to the Kaikoura Ranges in the South Island.
Book a Wellington City and Bays sightseeing tour with a friendly local guide and experience New Zealand’s coolest little capital for yourself.
Written: 24 articles
Take in Wellington's most scenic highlights on a half-day tour of the city and its surrounds – the perfect way to get your bearings in New Zealand's capital city.