A capital place for culture
Part of Wellington's charm is its close proximity to nature. The central city is nestled between a beautiful harbour and forested hills. Wildlife sanctuaries, islands, seaside villages, ocean beaches and regional parks provide huge scope for outdoor fun.
Many visitors choose to base themselves in the vibrant inner city, where it's easy to walk to boutique shops, art galleries, trendy cafés and restaurants. Dominating the spectacular waterfront is Te Papa Tongrewa - the interactive, innovative museum that's one of New Zealand's key cultural attractions. At night, the city stays up late to enjoy live theatre, music and dance performances.
Between harbour and hills Wellington's geography has created a compact city. The central city, only 2 kilometres wide, is nestled between the harbour and the hills. Wild, untouched landscapes can be found within minutes of your city hotel.
The home of heritage
Wellington is home to many of New Zealand's most significant heritage attractions. Among these are the national museum Te Papa, Parliament and the National Archives, which displays the original Treaty of Waitangi.
A city with four flavours
Downtown Wellington is divided into four distinct quarters, making it easy for visitors to experience the different personalities of the city. The fashions, flavours and faces change with every quarter.
Wairarapa Regional Information
Days of wine and walkways
If you arrive from Wellington, you'll wind your way over the Rimutaka hills and along the route trodden by early European settlers 150 years ago. The vast Wairarapa valley will open up before you, fringed by mountains to the west and rugged coast to the east.
European settlement dates back to the 1840s, but Maori history is much older. Archaeological research has shown that parts of the Wairarapa coast have been occupied for at least 800 years.
Essentially rural with off-the beaten-track charm, Wairarapa promises a diverse experience for those who appreciate great wine, gourmet food, astonishing wildlife and natural beauty. Rolling vineyards, acres of apple orchards, fields of lavender, olive groves, heritage museums and quaint historic towns combine to make Wairarapa an appealing destination.
Cape Palliser, complete with lighthouse, is the southernmost point of the North Island. Highlights include a large breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals and Maori occupation sites dating from the 12th century.
Martinborough wine village
Approximately 30 wineries surround Martinborough's charming village square, creating a unique 'walk the wineries' experience. You can sample premium wines without the need to drive.
An hour's drive east from Masterton, Castlepoint beach is a great day trip. Walk the boardwalk to the lighthouse or enjoy a longer walk through the scenic reserve to Castle Rock, named by Captain Cook in 1770.
Set on a magnificent harbour surrounded by hills, Wellington is New Zealand's capital and cultural centre.
Wellington stands at the southern end of the North Island, around the deep water harbour of Port Nicholson. It is a compact city, encircled by hills, and due to a lack of flat land, many of its houses cling to its hillsides. The city's southern and eastern suburbs are built around pretty bays with sandy beaches.
The city was chosen as New Zealand's capital in 1865 due to its central position in the country. Many of the early settlers to the country came ashore at nearby Petone. As well as being the country's political capital, home to New Zealand's parliament, Wellington is also considered to be the country's cultural capital. It is home to Te Papa the Museum of New Zealand, several theatre companies, art galleries, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Ballet. In recent times Wellington has stamped its place firmly on the world map as being the home of New Zealand's growing film industry, earning itself the nickname 'Wellywood'.
The capital's waterfront provides a wonderful vantage point from which to view the city and harbour, in particular the affluent suburb of Oriental Parade, which is also home to the city's newly extended inner city beach. A short ride in a cable car from Wellington's CBD to the Botanic Gardens offers spectacular views over the city and harbour to the mountains beyond. For the more energetic, the views from the top of Mt Kaukau on a clear day are second to none.
Wellington offers visitors a host of attractions and activities, from mountain biking and kayaking, to a stroll around its historic buildings. The city also has a splendid Zoo, several museums and some excellent parks and gardens. It can also boast an array of fine shops, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Petone is a suburb of Wellington rich in history. The name Petone is an Anglicised version of the Maori name Pito one, meaning the sandy end. Pito one was the name and location of Te Puni's pa and where the first European settlers to the region came ashore in 1840. Petone became one of Wellington's earliest settled communities. Steeped in history and enormously popular with cafe lovers, Petone is one of New Zealands rags to riches success stories.
Only 15 or so years ago, shops and homes in Petone were in danger of decaying into oblivion. Then came the rush for older character houses and coastal properties. Hutt City Council upgraded historic Jackson Street and put boardwalks, walkways and attractive lighting along the foreshore. Now Petone is one of the most desirable real estate precincts in the region.
Much of Petone's appeal is the housing, some of which dates back to the late 1800s. Streets such as Aurora, Tory and Oriental -- named after some of the first settler ships to sail to New Zealand -- are full of renovated houses that have retained their old world character. In fact, Petone was the site of New Zealand's first organised European settlement, in 1839, though well after Maori had settled in the area.
The Petone foreshore boasts a large beach for safe swimming, excellent windsurfing, jet-skiing and water-skiing, and fishing from the Petone Wharf. The Petone Settlers Museum on the foreshore has regular exhibitions that relate the story of early Maori and European settlement. The best water in Wellington can be sampled at the marble fountain on the corner of Buick Street and Jackson Street. The water comes directly from the aquifer below -- no added chemicals!
Porirua is a city in the Wellington Region of New Zealand, immediately north of the city of Wellington, with their central business districts 20 km apart. It almost completely surrounds Porirua Harbour at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast. The eastern (Pauatahanui) inlet of the harbour is notable for its world-class estuarine values.
From Paekakariki (20 minutes drive) the Kapiti Coast is one long beach, accessible at Paekakariki, Raumati Beach, Paraparaumu Beach, Waikanae Beach, Pekapeka and beyond. Closer to home (10 minutes drive) is Plimmerton Beach where you can walk along the waterfront or stop in one of the cafes for a coffee. From the top of Paekakariki Hill (5 minutes off SH1 & accessible by car) is one of the most spectacular views in New Zealand looking north along the surf beach to Kapiti Island and South to Pukerua Bay and Mana Island with the mountains of the South Island in the background.
Pateka Museum in Porirua reflects the many streams of Local culture and there's always something interesting in the galleries. If you're tired of all the cop shows on TV come and see how it really happens at the Police Museum attached to the Royal New Zealand Police College - adjacent to the motel. Or if you prefer to see your history where it happened there's: Battle Hill ( 25 rninutes drive) - site of a confrontation between local Maori and colonial settlers and now a farm park with walking tracks and good views.
Waikanae is one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand in its setting of river, bush, mountain and beach.
A day or two in Waikanae can see you riding, fishing, visiting Mahara Gallery, viewing kiwis at Nga Manu Nature Reserve, seeing how Sunset at the Waikanae River Estuary your ancestors lived at the little museum or simply passing the time of day at one of the town's excellent cafés. If sport is your fancy, bowling (visitors welcome), golf, tennis, swimming or boating are among those on offer. Garden enthusiasts will find exquisite gardens to visit. All within view of the guardian spirit of Kapiti Island.
Visit the Southlands Car Museum, Lindale Tourist Centre & Farm and Mahara Art Gallery.
Wairarapa's largest town and biggest shopping centre, Masterton is rumoured to top local temperature charts every summer. It's handy to all the region's attractions and offers plently of family-friendly activities and accommodation.
Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, a 20 minute drive noth of Masterton. There are wonderful walks through the native forest and check out feeding times for the eels and the kaka.
Keep driving north to Mangatainoka's Tui Brewery - you can book a tour, or drop into the bar and souvenir shop while enjoying a bite to eat at the new Tui HQ cafe.
In town, Aratoi, Wairarapa's Muesum or Art and History, hosts a variety of local and national exhibitions in a sophisticated viewing space.
Visit the local wineries of the Wairarapa Region.