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Wellington Travel Guide

About Wellington

No longer Auckland's fussy little sister, Wellington has enjoyed a meteoric rise in trendiness in recent years. Located on the southwestern tip of North Island, the national capital has firmly established itself as a destination for visitors thanks to an abundance of arts and cultural events and an increasingly innovative culinary scene.

Part of this upsurge in popularity is thanks to film director Peter Jackson, who shot both his Tolkien film trilogies here, turning the suburb of Miramar into a movie-making hub nicknamed 'Wellywood' and sparking a range of movie-themed city tours.

Films aside, Wellington enjoys a beautiful natural setting, nestled between a picturesque harbour and rolling green hills. The waterfront district, once a bustling port, has been rejuvenated and is now a great spot to absorb culture in art galleries and museums, and to dine, or party, late into the night. One of the waterfront's most iconic landmarks is Te Papa, the city's national museum, which dominates the skyline.

Wellington's compact size means that it doesn't take much effort to leave the urban sprawl behind for the greener pastures of the scenic countryside. You can hike through peaceful native bush, explore the rocky South Coast, or visit one of several nearby regional parks.

Adventure is never far away in New Zealand. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix by kayaking on the harbour, quad biking, mountain biking at Makara Peak, or scuba diving. Sun seekers should head for central Oriental Bay, which is a popular beach spot in summer - even if the sand has been imported. Lyall Bay is the place for surfing, while the Island Bay fishing village offers art deco gems, and Scorching Bay steals the award for the prettiest beach.

When it comes to leisure, Wellington's nightlife, dining and café culture are thriving. The city boasts more cafés per capita than New York City, while restaurants offer cuisines from Europe, Asia and Polynesia. As the local saying goes, Wellington can indeed claim to be the "coolest little capital in the world".

Key facts

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Featured Hotels



Inspired by New York’s high-end boutique hotel scene and modern architecture, Ohtel is a small but luxurious place to stay for the traveller who wants a unique Wellington experience. All the mid-century furnishings are from the founder’s private collection, and the hotel itself is built into the base of a steep coastal cliff space. Even the cheapest rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee. 

Cambridge Hotel

The Cambridge has been a Wellington establishment since 1883 - Queen Elizabeth herself stayed here in the 1960s. Overall, it offers great facilities at amazing prices. Located in the centre of Wellington, it is minutes from major attractions, fine dining, and great shopping. The Cambridge has rooms to suit all budgets, from backpacker dorms to en-suite doubles and all of the rooms come with SKY TV and a mini fridge. 

Victoria Court Motor Lodge

In the heart of downtown Wellington, this lodge offering studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments, is ideally located within easy walking distance of theatres, shops, bars and museums. Most of the 25 units have spa baths/showers, cook tops, queen-size beds and Sky TV. Off-street parking is available.

InterContinental Wellington Hotel

The imposing InterContinental Hotel, the best five-star hotel in town, is one of the city's landmarks, with two restaurants, café, pool, sauna, fitness centre, large indoor heated swimming pool, conference and banquet facilities, and business centre. Many of the 231 modern and stylish rooms and suites have excellent harbour views.

Ibis Wellington

This international budget chain hotel is a good-value option for those who want to be close to the action, but don't want to stay in a backpacker's hostel. There's a restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner but limited parking.

Museum Art Hotel

Set across from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum Art Hotel offers both classic hotel and apartment style accommodation. The chic hotel is peppered with paintings and sculptures, and even comes with an art map for guests wishing to take a self-guided tour of the premises.