Once considered to be little more than a sleepy backwater at the bottom of New Zealand's stunning North Island, in recent decades Wellington (or Te Whanganui-a-Tara in Maori) has transformed into what iconic travel guide Lonely Planet has called 'The coolest little capital in the world'. And it's not hard to understand why.
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A small city with a huge personality, Wellington sits surrounded by lush green hills on one of the world's most beautiful harbours. With a vibrant cultural scene, award winning cuisine and a thriving arts community as well as some of the world's best coffee, Wellington is ever changing and evolving, making it a destination worth visiting time and time again. So why wait?
What are the must-see attractions in Wellington?
From the sparse southern coastline of Ōwhiro Bay and the indie shops and galleries of Te Aro's Cuba Street to the harbourfront cafes of Oriental Bay and such internationally recognised design festivals as the cutting-edge World of WearableArt, you'll never be at a loss for something to see or do in Wellington.
Not sure where to begin? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Named as one of the top 8 coffee cities in the world by CNN, you can't go far in Wellington without finding a quality cup of coffee, as well as some of the country's finest restaurants, micro breweries and bars.
Be sure to check out Hannah's Laneway in Te Aro for some gourmet delicacies at places like Fix & Fogg or the Wellington Chocolate Factory, or pop into the intimate Peoples Coffee in Newtown for what many locals consider to be Wellington's best coffee.
Find the perfect piece of clothing or art at the Wellington Underground Market, stock up on local produce at the Harbourside Market on Sunday morning, or sample asian flavours at Cuba Street's Wellington Night Market each Friday and Saturday night.
Feeling like seeing things from a different angle? Take a picnic and head up to the Wellington Botanic Garden via the famed red Wellington Cable Car from the heart of Lambton Quay, or hike to the top of Mount Victoria for breathtaking views across the city and harbour. If it's high end fashion you're after, then explore what's known as 'The Golden Mile' near Courtenay Place, or pop into the Old Bank Arcade and visit the home of some of New Zealand's top designers.
Immerse yourself in the country's history and culture by spending a day at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. A truly superb museum with interactive displays, awe-inspiring art works, world famous inventions and countless cultural treasures, Te Papa is also the perfect place to discover the extraordinary stories and strengths of Maori culture.
If that's not enough, the Pataka Art and Museum in nearby Porirua (just 15 minutes drive from the CBD) celebrates New Zealand's multicultural history with a focus on Pacific Islander, Asian and Maori art.
It's almost impossible to think of New Zealand as separate from its role as Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings (the giant eagle in Wellington airport is a case in point!), so embrace the magic and take a tour of Peter Jackson's academy award winning Weta Workshop. If it's something more real that you're after, then head out on a tour to discover local locations from the movies.
You can't talk about Wellington, however, without mentioning its exceptional natural beauty. With remarkable foresight rarely seen in public life, in 1840 Wellington's original European founders created a U-shaped natural reserve on the hills overlooking what is now the inner city.
Called the Town Belt, this 520 hectare park gives Wellington much of its natural character and provides a superb place for exercise, contemplation and relaxation. As important to Wellingtonians as Central Park is to New Yorkers, the Town Belt is well worth a visit whatever the season.
Although not the warmest place to swim year round, especially if you're used to Australian waters, Wellington has a remarkable number of beautiful coves, beaches and bays to suit the swimmer, windsurfer, paddleboarder or kayaker alike.
From Freyberg Beach in Oriental Bay just a short walk from the heart of the city to Scorching Bay in Miramar and Breaker Bay in the charming suburb of Seatoun, you'll find cosy cafes, sunny picnic spots, rugged headlands and sparkling water.
Yet Wellington is more than just a city, but also a superb starting point to explore the rugged coastline and mountain ranges of this breathtaking country. Head out of town to explore Paraparaumu and the Kāpiti Coast, pop over the Remutaka Range to the renowned Wairarapa wine region, or jump on the famed Cook Strait ferry to begin your exploration of the South Island.
With so much to see and do, Wellington is the city that keeps on giving. So book today, and see what all the justifiable fuss is about.