Photograph by oversnap, Getty Images
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Dusk falls pver the Castle Point Lighthouse in Wellington.

Photograph by oversnap, Getty Images

Everything to Know About Wellington

Quirky, cool and fun, Wellington is the thriving cultural hub of New Zealand.

Offbeat, unconventional and original, Wellington is a place where city meets nature and is almost incomparable to anywhere else on earth. Sprawling along several harbors and bays, the eccentric houses and narrow winding streets weave their way up into the surrounding hillsides into dense native bush where the birdsong drowns out the urban noise and makes you forget you're in a city. Full of character and soul, famous in New Zealand for its culture and art, Wellington is full of commissioned street art hidden down alleys and speakeasy bars tucked behind buildings where you have to know where to look to find them.

When to Go

You can't beat Wellington on a sunny day, and the kiwi summer definitely showcases the capital at its finest. From December to February you have a lot of sunshine hours and less of the notorious Wellington wind, and locals flock to the surrounding bays and beaches soaking up the rays. With a pleasant maritime climate, the warmest month of the year is January, and often the busiest with most people in the Southern Hemisphere on holiday. This is also often the best time to avoid "Windy Welly."

Celebrate

Wellington is a city that never sleeps as there is always a festival or an event taking place at one time or another. Food lovers and locals alike flock downtown for the few weeks every August when Wellington on a Plate, New Zealand's largest culinary festival, conquers the town. Many local restaurants and eateries hop on board creating festival dishes everyone can try all while competing for the top spot.

What to Eat

Wellington is famous for its coffee and for a good reason; it's fantastic and strong enough to make your hair stand on end. The coffee culture in Wellington defines the city, from eccentric cafes where locals linger for hours to simple yet refined haunts that do only coffee, and do it exceptionally well. Wellington can easily convert the average coffee fan into a connoisseur. For international visitors, don't leave without trying the iconic flat white, an espresso drink similar to a latte but even better, and often a go-to morning coffee for locals. Hannah's Laneway is home to some of the best bars, foodie spots, and cafes in town.

Souvenir to Take Home

Wellington is still one of those cities where local businesses reign supreme, and there are plenty of galleries and locally produced clothes that make the best souvenirs. Stroll down the iconic Cuba Street and you can easily get lost amongst the unique shops and cafes. Thanks to a hive of local craft breweries, there are plenty of craft beers to bring home that make great gifts. The Te Papa national museum is a treasure trove of uniquely Wellingtonian paraphernalia.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Wellington is a clean, tidy city, with streets so clean locals often don't even wear shoes out and about. Relatively easy to explore on foot or via public transport, many people forgo cars here in exchange for getting around of their own accord. As New Zealand works exhaustively hard to eradicate mammal pests that endanger the native bird population, you can take a ferry right out to Somes Island in the middle of the harbor and see this for yourself. A predator-free eco-sanctuary, you can see some of New Zealand's unique species right next to the capital and help contribute towards keeping the country pure.

Instagram-Worthy View

Without a doubt the best view in Wellington is from the Mount Victoria lookout, the crown of the sprawling green town belt, a park that has been preserved right next to the central downtown area of the city with trails and paths leading up to the summit. Overlooking the bays and city, you can either walk, bike or drive up to the summit for expansive views that never disappoint. Walking along the trails you might even spot some iconic views from The Lord of the Rings, many scenes of which were filmed here, including the famous "get off the road" scene from the first film.