As the capital of New Zealand, Wellington is the most southerly capital city on the planet. According to Māori legend, Wellington Harbour was first discovered by Kupe in A.D. 925. 1840 saw the arrival of the Europeans, who named the city after the Duke of Wellington, and it finally became the country's capital in 1865.

Previously overlooked in favour of the more popular Auckland, a lot has changed here in terms of tourism in the last few years, with Wellington now described by some as the "coolest little capital in the world". Its hip reputation is due in large part to its thriving cultural scene, its nightlife and, in particular, one of the most successful film industries outside Tinseltown. Plenty of tourists come here to see famous film scenes come to life, such as the stunning landscapes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the heightened surroundings of blockbuster Avatar. The city's wealth of high-tech sound stages, special effects gurus and studios have led to the area sometimes being dubbed "Wellywood".

A good place to start getting to grips with the city is along the waterfront. This area is most notably home to the national museum Te Papa. Not far is the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, which tracks the development and maritime heritage of the New Zealand capital.

One of the most enduring tourist attractions in the city is the Wellington Cable Car. This 8-minute journey will whip you up the hill to Wellington Botanic Garden and the Kelburn lookout point. You can then hop on a shuttle from here to Zealandia, a conservation project which aims to return part of the countryside to its original state before human settlement. To see the famous unspoilt landscape of Wellington on a grander scale, head into the hills for some dramatic tramping trails, or make the trip to the city's nearest beach, Oriental Bay Beach.

As night falls, the streets of Wellington come to life with great bars, cafés, restaurants and entertainment. Despite its many great facilities, Wellington is really quite a small city. One of the many advantages of this is that most things are within easy walking distance, making the visitor's life as easy and laidback as possible.

Known for

Shopping, Museums and Skyscrapers

Top hotels in Wellington

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Rydges Wellington Airport
Rydges Wellington Airport
4 out of 5
28 Stewart Duff Drive, Rongotai, Wellington
NZ$144
per night
19 Oct. - 20 Oct.
4.5/5Wonderful! (248 reviews)

"I liked the convenience of wheeling your luggage from conveyer belt to Hotel at midnight and receiving a wake up call the next morning."…"

Reviewed on 18 Sep. 2019

Rydges Wellington Airport
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Rydges Wellington
4.5 out of 5
75 Featherston St, Wellington
NZ$179
per night
22 Sep. - 23 Sep.
4.4/5Excellent! (2,519 reviews)

"Nice and quiet room, bed was comfy. Buffet breakfast one of the best I have had."…"

Reviewed on 15 Sep. 2019

Rydges Wellington
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ibis Wellington
3.5 out of 5
153 Featherston St, Wellington
NZ$111
per night
13 Oct. - 14 Oct.
4.2/5Very Good! (2,639 reviews)

"Room was clean and comfortable. Location was good."…"

Reviewed on 16 Sep. 2019

ibis Wellington

Popular activities in Wellington

Te Papa
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Te Papa

Engage your senses with a trip to this New Zealand museum, home to the national art collection and interactive exhibits on everything from nature to Māori legend.

Courtenay Place
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Courtenay Place

Shop, wine and dine in this culinary hot spot on one of Wellington's most fashionable streets.

Cuba Street Mall
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Cuba Street Mall

Enjoy artisan coffees, sample specialty foods, browse through vintage shops or hunt for retro bargains in Wellington's bohemian heart.

Wellington Zoo
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Photo provided by Positively Wellington

Wellington Zoo

Chill with the big cats, spend some quality time with the red pandas and hang with the gibbons at New Zealand's original zoo.

Beehive
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Beehive

Take part in a free guided tour of the distinctive building where decisions are made to shape the future of New Zealand.

Mount Victoria Lookout
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Mount Victoria Lookout

Stroll along a scenic walkway through a pretty Wellington Town Belt reserve to this lookout for spectacular panoramic views of the city.

Top activities in Wellington

Wellington City Sights & Coastline Tour
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Wellington City Sights & Coastline Tour

NZ$59

Get acquainted with New Zealand's second largest city, the world's most southerly capital. Take in spectacular views of this city surrounded by water—its iconic architectural landmarks as well as its scenic coast—from the most stunning vantage points.

Wellington Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass
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Wellington Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass

NZ$45

A great guided tour and Wellington’s 10 best hop-off stops Hop on board one of our minibuses and traverse Wellington’s winding streets on our intimate and informative 90min guided Tour.

There & Back Again: Weta Cave Workshop Tour
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There & Back Again: Weta Cave Workshop Tour

NZ$68

Enter the exciting world of filmmaking with this immersive, behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand's Weta Workshop. You’ll enjoy return transfers from Wellington i-SITE to Weta Studio Tours, where you’ll explore the Weta Cave Workshop Tour.

Lord of the Rings Tour
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Lord of the Rings Tour

NZ$95

Lord of the Rings fans unite on this tour of the sprawling New Zealand countryside, where the majority of the famous movie series was filmed. Visit locations you remember from the movies, explore the stunning natural environment, and learn secrets of how the films' epic scenes came to be.

There & Back Again: The Full Experience at Weta Workshop
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There & Back Again: The Full Experience at Weta Workshop

NZ$88

Enter the world of Weta Workshop with There and Back Again: The Full Experience, a guided round trip by Weta Studio Tours! You’ll enjoy return transfers from Wellington i-SITE to Weta Studio Tours, where you’ll explore the Weta Cave Workshop Tour and the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go.

Wellington Adrenalin Forest Adventure Park
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Wellington Adrenalin Forest Adventure Park

NZ$45

Unleash your inner ninja and relive your recess days by zipping, jumping, and swinging through the lush tree canopy of the Bay of Plenty. The 6 unique courses offer the perfect opportunity for you to navigate past thrilling obstacles between the trees, on bridges, wires, and extensive ziplines.

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