KEY TOWNS AND REGIONS
Situated on the south-western tip of the North Island, nestled between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, New Zealand’s capital city is renowned for its arts, heritage and culture.
Wellington became the capital city in place of Auckland in 1865, and is home to New Zealand’s Houses of Parliament, including the iconic Beehive. Relax at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand inner-city beach, and explore the many museums, art galleries, theatre shows, bars, restaurants and cafes that give Wellington a unique buzz. The surrounding hills are fantastic for walking and mountain biking, and the City to Sea walk is great for experiencing the best of the Wellington waterfront. The “coolest little capital in the world” is also home to Te Papa Tongarewa (The Museum of New Zealand) and the world-famous Weta Workshop.
Ancient Maori mythology tells the story of two taniwha (mythical sea monsters) who lived in Wellington Harbour, and how one of the taniwha’s tails carved out Awakairangi, or what we know of as the Hutt Valley. Set against forested hills alongside the Hutt River, Upper Hutt is renowned for its many recreational areas and heritage sites. Fifteen minutes north of Wellington sits Hutt City, which encompasses Lower Hutt, Petone, Eastbourne on the harbour and Wainuiomata’s rugged south coast. The range of harbour, river, plains and mountain landscapes gives Hutt City unique appeal. The Hutt City hillside offers fantastic views of the valley, the harbour and back to Wellington City. Hutt City is the gateway to the great outdoors with well-kept tracks that weave alongside rivers, through bush and over mountains.
The Eastern Bays region boasts a mix of rugged coastline and seaside communities, including tranquil Days Bay and the suburb of Eastbourne, and is an excellent place to experience another aspect of the region. The area has been popular to many well-known artists and writers who were influenced by the peace and quiet of the region. The Eastern Bays are known for their walking tracks including Butterfly Creek and the track along the Pencarrow Coast to New Zealand’s first lighthouse. The cast iron tower was erected on Pencarrow Head at the entrance to Wellington Harbour in 1859.
Porirua is largely formed around the arms of the Porirua Harbour and the coastline facing out to Cook Strait, and sits just 20 minutes north of Wellington. The name Porirua comes from the Maori word Pari-rua, meaning “the flowing of the two tides”. The small city offers a vibrant arts and culture scene and friendly locals from diverse backgrounds. To the north of Porirua is Pukerua Bay. The beach offers spectacular views of Kapiti Island, and at the west end a beachfront track will take you through to the seaside resort of Plimmerton.
About an hour north of Wellington lies the Kapiti Coast – 40km of unspoilt coastline and rolling hills, and home to Kapiti Island, Paraparaumu and Waikanae.
Waikanae is a popular holiday spot, and the Waikanae River, to the south of town, has swimming holes, walkways and popular white baiting spots.
Kapiti Island was used as a base for infamous Maori chief Te Rauparaha during the Musket Wars of the early 19th century, and today is a world-renowned sanctuary for New Zealand birdlife, native forest and wildlife. About 5km off the coast, Kapiti Island can be accessed via ferry from Paraparaumu Beach. Paraparaumu is the main centre of the Kapiti Coast, and is home to the world-renowned Paraparaumu Beach Links Golf Course, considered one of the best golf courses in New Zealand.
Getting here and around:
Wellington International and Domestic Airport is an easy 15 minutes from the city centre.
It is also connected to Auckland via the Northern Explorer rail. There is a passenger rail service connecting it to Palrmerston North and towns in Wairarapa as well.
It is serviced by scheduled buses to all major North Island towns and cities.
Wellington is the gateway between North and South Island; two ferry services, Interislander and Bluebridge connect Wellington Harbour to Picton. Wellington is also a popular stop for cruise ships.
An excellent public transport system connects Wellington, including buses, trains, ferry and a cable car. Plenty of taxi and shuttle services are also available.
Spring (Sep-Nov) – warming up with clear days and showers clearing, 7-17°C; Summer (Dec-Feb) – dry and sunny, 18-28°C; Autumn (Mar-May) – cooler but clear and settled, 8-19°C; Winter (Jun-Aug) – cold with some rain, 3-13°C.