Wellington City Guide

Vibrant Wellington is New Zealand's cosmopolitan capital. Visit Wellington’s Te Papa Tongarewa on Cable Street, the country's bold and innovative national museum. Culture lovers will find the city bursting with theatres, galleries and museums. Browse boutiques and markets on cuba Street, see the exhibitions at City Gallery, step back in time at The Colonial Cottage and The Cable Car Museum, discover the city’s lively maritime and social history at the Museum of Wellington, or take a tour of the Parliament Buildings. After a day of taking in the city sights, check out the nightlife in Wellington's lively entertainment and dining precinct, Courtenay Place. After your meal, it's just a short walk to the theatres and clubs, or take in a late night show at a theatre or cinema!

Get Your Bearings

Built around the harbour, Wellington's main shopping and business precincts run off Lambton Quay and Willis Street. Off Willis Street, turn down Manners or Dixon Street to head to Courtenay Place, a key entertainment and dining precinct. The Hutt Valley lies north of Wellington, incorporating both Lower Hutt (24km north of Wellington) and Upper Hutt (39km north of Wellington).

Things To Do

Te Papa Museum
Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, where you can explore the great stories of this fascinating land and the people who live here. But this is no ordinary museum! Te Papa is recognised as a world leader in the new wave of innovative and interactive museum experiences, and has achieved an international reputation for excellence. Since opening in 1998, Te Papa has attracted over 14 million visitors and been a huge success with international visitors as well as Kiwis. Located centrally on Wellington’s beautiful waterfront, the museum has quickly become a ‘must see’ on any visitor’s itinerary. Take an informative one-hour guided tour of Te Papa – ask at the information desk for departure times (Adults $11, Children $5.50). 

General admission is free.

Location: Cable Street
Phone 381 7000. 
Email mail@tepapa.govt.nz 

Food & Wine

Wellington offers a host of dining options from ethnic cafés and chic eateries to innovative Pacific Rim cuisine.

The Waterfront 
If you fancy a view as you dine, one of the best places to go is Queens Wharf with its upmarket seafood restaurants and fine sea views. There’s nothing like the fresh smell of the sea and a view of the harbour while you relax over a delicious meal. There is also a food court at the Queens Wharf retail centre (10am-6pm daily) for cheaper meals. Further around the waterfront, scenic Oriental Parade is known for its fine selection of seafood restaurants, some of which offer alfresco dining. 

A bustling commercial centre by day, this area forms the hub of New Zealand’s capital, encompassing Parliament Buildings and the towering office blocks that house many of the city’s business enterprises. By night, Wellington’s CBD adopts a more peaceful atmosphere but there are still plenty of wining and dining options including upmarket brasseries, bars and cafés.

Courtenay Place 
This vibrant quarter is one of the city’s favourite precincts for dining out and entertainment, with a huge range of ethnic and international-style cuisines to tempt the tastebuds including Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Italian, Mexican, Greek and Japanese. Whether you feel like sitting down to a formal dinner in a brasserie setting, or just relaxing over a casual meal at a café or pub, Courtenay Place has all the options covered. The Wellington Market food court (Friday to Sunday, 10am-6pm) is the place to go for good, budget Asian food. While in the area, slip into Blair Street or perhaps Allen Street. Once alive at dawn with auctioneers selling fresh vegetables and flowers, the reverse is now in vogue with bars and restaurants open until late. You can follow your meal with a night on the town. Entertainment options in this lively area include R&B, jazz, comedy and dance.

Cuba Street 
Wellington's hippest quarter is a great place to eat on a budget, with restaurants, vegetarian eateries, bakeries, ethnic cuisine, a goodcourt and a a range of smaller cafés and bars. The area is one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares and, after a relaxing dinner, it’s just a short walk to the concert halls and theatres for a spot of nightlife.

Lambton Quay 
This elegant shopping precinct has a plethora of options for wining and dining, from upmarket brasseries to the bars and cafés of the historic Old Bank Shopping Arcade.Wellington’s oldest suburb, Thorndon, is another good place to eat out. Visitors can walk off lunch by exploring the area’s lovely colonial buildings, which include the Prime Minister’s official residence on Tinakori Road.

Willis Street 
This key shopping quarter covers all options, from ethnic Indian and Indonesian through to Tex-Mex and upmarket French bistros. There is a licensed food court in the BNZ Shopping Centre (open Monday to Saturday). The Manners Mall area has some budget options and is popular with street entertainers. 

Tinakori Road 
In the heart of historic Thorndon, Tinakori Road is distinguished by its heritage buildings and the tightly packed wooden houses and cottages built by the city’s early settlers. A cluster of speciality shops and restaurants create a village atmosphere down from the main entrance to Wellington Botanic Garden.

Arts & Culture

Wellington lays claim to the title of New Zealand's "cultural capital," with a host of concerts, plays, operas, shows and live entertainment. 

At night, the curtains go up on a myriad of professional theatre productions featuring homegrown and international material. Wellington is also the headquarters of New Zealand's key national arts organisations including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, NBR New Zealand Opera, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the National Dance & Drama Centre, the New Zealand School of Dance, the Wellington Sinfonia and Chamber Music New Zealand.

  • BATS Theatre
    Considered New Zealand's foremost developmental theatre.
  • Circa Theatre
    Professional theatre from New Zealand and around the world.
  • Downstage Theatre
    Producing a mix of classics, drama, musicals and comedy.
  • Opera House
    A historic building which caters for touring shows and community events.
  • Westpac St James Theatre
    A fully restored heritage building presenting a mix of opera, ballet and musical shows. This 1912 Edwardian building is regarded as one of the finest lyric theatres in Australasia.
  • Embassy Theatre
    A restored art deco movie theatre, which also hosts the city's annual International Film Festival in July.
  • Paramount Theatre
  • Penthouse Cinema
  • Rialto Cinemas

Going Out

  • Theatre
    Enjoy a night at the opera or catch a homegrown production at one of the city's five professional theatres.
  • Shows and Concerts
    Take in a show or concert at the Michael Fowler Centre, in Civic Square, or at the beautifully refurbished Westpac St James Theatre at Courtenay Place. This 1912 Edwardian building is one of Wellington's architectural gems and regarded as one of the finest lyric theatres in Australasia. It's also the headquarters of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
  • Art Deco Embassy theatre
    Catch a movie at the Art Deco Embassy theatre. This famous Wellington icon has been restored to all its original glory, and hosts the city's annual International Film Festival in July.
  • Classical Music
    Classical music buffs can take in regular free lunchtime concerts at St Andrew's on The Terrace (on Wednesdays), at the University School of Music (Thursdays), at the Conservatorium of Music in the Polytechnic (Fridays) and, occasionally, at Old St Paul's in Thorndon.
  • Summer City
    During summer, catch one of the free Summer City concerts at Wellington's beautiful Botanic Garden. Pack a picnic, find a shady spot and relax to the music.
  • Wellington Shopping
    With its colourful arcades, boutiques and historic shop fronts, Wellington offers a great shopping experiences
Places of Interest
  • Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa
    New Zealand's national museum is famous for its interactive exhibitions and cutting-edge technology - experience the power of Awesome Forces and check out Our Space, where you can walk across an interactive map of New Zealand.
  • Wellington Cable Car
    One of the few remaining of its type in the world, this Wellington icon runs from Lambton Quay through the leafy suburb of Kelburn and up to the Botanic Garden. There are spectacular views of the harbour and city from the top of the terminus, and you can take a stroll through the city's award-winning Botanic Gardens.
  • The Botanic Gardens of Wellington
    Walkways lead through 26ha of exotic and native trees and flowers, with more than 100 stunning varieties of roses on display at the Lady Norwood Rose Garden. The Carter Observatory is also located in the grounds of the gardens.
  • World of WearableArt Awards
    These annual awards, previously held in Nelson, iare now a highlight on the Wellington cultural calendar with a multitude of creative entries from all over the world.
  • Parliament Buildings
    Free tours are available through the architecturally diverse parliamentary buildings, which include the Victorian gothic style library, the Edwardian legislative chambers and the distinctive 1970s Beehive.
  • Museum of Wellington
    Housed in the historic 1892 Bond Store (customs house), the museum provides a journey through the capital's social and maritime history.
  • Karori Sanctuary
    A world-first conservation project where a unique protected natural area is being restored. Rare and endangered New Zealand wildlife, including kiwi, saddleback, kaka and weka, have been released inside the 252ha pest-free valley.
  • Wellington Zoo
    Featuring the country's largest habitat exhibit, the Tropical River Trail, and the second largest chimpanzee colony in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • National Archives
    A permanent display of New Zealand's founding documents, including the Treaty of Waitangi and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition.
  • National Library of New Zealand
    The art and history collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, which specialises in documentary material relating to New Zealand and the Pacific.
  • Old St Paul's
    An 1866 Gothic-style church in Mulgrave Street, with carved native timbers in place of the traditional stone arches.
  • Kirkcaldie & Stains
    A historic 135-year-old department store stocking exclusive designer brands.
  • Mount Victoria
    This landmark lookout point (196m) has splendid views of the city and harbour, and can be reached along Carlton Gore Street.
  • Thorndon Heritage Trail
    This historic suburb contains many of Wellington's fine 19th century villas, including Premier House on Tinakori Road - the Prime Minister's official home. A leaflet is available from Wellington Visitor Centre (101 Wakefield Street).
  • Matiu Somes Island
    A scenic reserve offering walking tracks and good views of the city. This former animal quarantine station was originally settled by the first Maori who arrived in Wellington, and was more recently the enforced home of Italian and German interns during the two World Wars.
  • Oriental Parade
    Wellington's beachside promenade is an ideal place for a stroll, winding around the city’s scenic harbour front. There are some excellent seafood restaurants along the parade, and you can hire kayaks to explore the harbour at Queens Wharf.


From heritage walks to river trails and rugged coastal walkways, Wellington offers some wonderful opportunities for walkers. For the full list - visit Wellington Nature and Wildlife


Butterfly Creek (2 hrs return). The Kowhai Track in Eastbourne takes walkers over a ridge with spectacular views of the Wellington Harbour, to the peaceful bush-clad valley of Butterfly Creek. The picnic spot in a clearing by the creek is a popular stop off point for walkers.

Hutt River Trail. Running for 27km from Petone’s Hikoikoi Reserve to Birchville in Upper Hutt, the Hutt River Trail is ideal for walking, running and cycling. The trail also provides river access for swimming, fishing, and kayaking. In most cases the Trail runs on both sides of the river, offering shorter loop tracks between bridges. Enjoy leafy glades and open spaces, many linking with local parks and sports fields.

Botanic Garden (25min). This signposted walk from the top of the Cable Car takes in the Carter Observatory, the sun dial and native forest on Serpentine Way.

Thorndon Heritage Trail. Wellington’s oldest suburb contains some fine examples of 19th century villas, including the Prime Minister’ official home, dating back to 1843. A self-guide brochure is available from Wellington Visitor Information Centre.

Tinakori Hills. An area of native bush and pines offering city and harbour views, and native birdlife, including tui, grey warblers, fantails and silver eyes. Entrances are on Weld Street, Wadestown Road, Grant Road and Mary Street.

Red Rocks Coastal Walk (4km each way, 2-3hrs return). Follows the dramatic volcanic coast from the quarry at Owhiro Bay to Sinclair Head, with its colony of New Zealand fur seals. The seals are most numerous from May to October. Wellington Rover Tours can drop off and pick up from the start of the walk at the western end of Owhiro Bay, or take bus no 1 or 4 to Island Bay, then 29 to Owhiro Bay Parade.

The Eastern Walkway (4.5km). A ridge walk along the southern end of the Miramar Peninsula from the Pass of Branda to Tarakena Bay, passing historical Maori sites and native flora and fauna. Wellington Rover Tours drops off at Tarakena Bay and picks up from Seatoun.

The Northern Walkway (16km, 4hrs). Starting from the top of the cable-car terminus in the Botanic Garden, this track runs through to Johnsonville, taking in native birdlife on Tinakori Hill, regenerating native forest in Ngaio Gorge, and views across the harbour to the Rimutaka and Tararua ranges from Mount Kaukau (430m).

The Southern Walkway (11km, 4-5hrs). This walk takes in the inner city town belt from Oriental to Island Bay. Highlights include sweeping views from the summits of Mount Victoria (196m) and Mount Albert (178m). To start at the city end, take the No 14 Kilbirnie (via Roseneath) bus to Oriental Parade. The walkway entrance is signposted near 360 Oriental Parade.

City to Sea Walkway (12km, 6hrs). Starting in the heart of central Wellington near Parliament, this trek crosses to the rocky shores of the South Coast. There are wonderful views of the Cook Strait and the Kaikoura, Rimutaka and Tararua ranges on a clear day. Catch the No 1 Bus back to the city from Island Bay.

For more walks, pick up a copy of Walking Wellington, by Kathy Ombler, from Wellington Visitor Information Centre on Wakefield Street.


Business Services

Business Overview
Much of the business done around Wellington involves governmentdepartments and corporate head offices keen to be close to the seat ofpower. Wellington is a major transport hub and widely recognised for itseducational facilities, and its excellent visitor and eventsfacilities, including the new WestpacTrust Stadium. The Lord of theRings film trilogy produced in Wellington has expanded a vibrant film/TVproduction industry. Hutt Valley contains a mixture of light industry,chemical/paint manufacturing and film/TV productions.

Meeting Options
Wellington has boardroom facilities through to hotel ballrooms and the 2500-seat auditorium at Michael Fowler Centre. There is a range of facilities at the Westpac Stadium Function Centre. The Hutt Valley has small to mid-range facilities in hotels and motels and specialist facilities.

More Info
See why Wellington ticks all the boxes on your conference checklist!