Wellington Travel Guide
Introduction to Wellington
Sitting on the Cook Strait at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. While it lacks the population Auckland has, it has a natural setting befitting of its status.
There is much more to this place than its Parliament Buildings – from the mountains that ring the downtown core to being home to one of the better national museums in the world, there is plenty to keep you busy in Wellington during your stay.
Cultural Attractions in Wellington
Even if you do nothing else during your time in Wellington, spending an afternoon at the Museum of New Zealand will make your time here worthwhile. Called Te Papa in Maori, this modern facility tells the story of this country through artifacts and state of the art interactive displays.
In brief, this institution will teach you about the natural, artistic, historic, and cultural aspects of New Zealand. By the time you walk out of its doors, you will have learned heaps about Maori culture, how terrifying earthquakes really are, the contribution New Zealand made to the war effort in the World Wars of the 20th century, and more.
While Wellington is dwarfed in size compared to Auckland, this gorgeous city is, in fact, the capital of New Zealand. As such, paying a visit to its Parliament Buildings is practically mandatory.
You won’t be disappointed by a boring structure, as its modernist design is a departure from the stuffy government buildings you often find elsewhere in the world. Nicknamed The Beehive, visitors are offered free tours of the building, but leave your camera in your pocket – no photography is allowed inside.
If you are fortunate enough to be in Wellington while the house is in session, you may be able to catch Question Time from the public gallery. Doing so will allow you to catch up on current issues in New Zealand, as well as getting to enjoy a spot or two of political brinkmanship (if that is your thing).
Get a look at one of the more iconic churches in New Zealand by dropping by Old St Paul’s. This point of interest got its name after being saved from a date with the wrecking ball back in 1961.
A brand new version of St. Paul’s was constructed by that time, but parishioners couldn’t bear the thought of their old home being reduced to rubble. After an extended outcry, the decision was made to preserve the structure.
These days, the building is used for weddings, concerts, and other special events, as well as being open to visitors who come to admire its Gothic Revival architecture. If you love churches, take 30 minutes out of your schedule to check this place out.
Other Attractions in Wellington
Like many destinations in New Zealand, Wellington is close by to many natural attractions worth seeing. The Zealandia Sanctuary is certainly one of these, as this fenced-in ecosystem aims to return the land under its control to the primal state it was in long before Europeans arrived.
While much of this park is kept free of human influence, the periphery of the protected area is open to visitors. Here, you’ll find many rare bird species, and during the night tour, you’ll get to see glow worms put on an awe-inspiring display.
Want to take in the best view in the Wellington area? Go on a hike up Mount Victoria. While reaching its summit can be a bit challenging if you are out of shape, the effort put into the climb will be well worth it when you get to see one of the best views of Wellington in the area.
You’ll get to see the CBD, the harbour, some of the best beaches in the region, and the airport, making for tons of photo opportunities.
Finish off your time in Wellington by living it up on Cuba Street. Hipster haven by day and nightlife hotspot by night, it is easily the most vibrant part of the city.
Named after a ship that visited its harbour in the 1840s (not after the country), there are plenty of stylish coffee shops, restaurants, and art galleries where you can salt away the day, while bars like the Matterhorn and the San Francisco Bathhouse will help you make the most of your evenings in Wellington.