Wellington (WLG) New Zealand

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As well as being the capital of New Zealand, the harbourside city of Wellington is known as the country’s capital of culture, the arts, fine dining and entertainment. Surrounded by forested hills and set along the rugged southern coastline of North Island, Wellington is its combination of energetic and vital modern city and classic New Zealand natural beauty.

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Flying to Wellington

Wellington International Airport lies eight kilometres from the city centre in Rongotai district, but has one major drawback affecting flights from outside the country. The range of carriers servicing this city is limited due to the airport’s short 1,936m runway being unsuitable for larger commercial jets. Boeing 737s are unable to take off with a full load and passenger numbers are not high enough to justify flights by the larger and more powerful Boeing 757/767 and Airbus 330 jets.

Approximate Flight Duration:

6 hrs 50 min

Major Airlines from Singapore:

Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Qantas, Malaysia Air, and others.

Public transport from Wellington International Airport to the city centre involves local bus services, shared shuttles and taxis, with car hire easily arranged on the complex. International arrivals in New Zealand need passports valid for at least three months after the departure date. 

Wellington Attractions

Theatrical and musical events, dance, galleries, museums and fine arts spaces are all key attractions in a city which was named by a top travel publication as the 4th best in the world to visit in 2011. 

The city is set on several Pacific fault lines, so visitors may experience minor wobbles unconnected with a night on the town. No worries, as the locals say, since almost all the older buildings have been strengthened and the newer structures are built to high earthquake-proof standards. Wellington’s central core is great for exploring on foot and combines the Golden Mile commercial centre and the bohemian district around Cuba Street. The extensive waterfront curves past two lovely parks, the City-to-Sea-Bridge and Lagoon areas and the Te Papa Museum, finally heading northeast to beautiful Oriental Bay and its beach.  

The best way to get an overview of the city is by taking its famous Wellington Cable Car from Langton Quay to the botanical gardens at Kelburn. The cityscape is spread out far below, with superb views of the ocean and hills. Wellington’s urban area centres on the southernmost peninsula of North Island, between Wellington Harbour and Cook Strait, with Porirua Harbour and city to its north known for its Maori and Polynesian neighbourhoods. The massive historic municipal buildings lie mostly in the downtown district, with 19th century wooden houses, Gothic churches and other heritage buildings scattered around the city. 

A unique feature of Wellington is its random sculptures, mostly by modern artists, placed at strategic points all over town, including a giant, swaying bright orange metal spike representing the masts of yachts in the harbour’s marina. Transport around the city is by bus, including the nine trolleybus routes still in use, and four electrified train lines serving mostly commuters from the outer suburbs. Taxis and car hire are easily available. Wellington International Airport is set some six kilometres from the city centre and ferries run to nearby cities and South Island. 

Wellington: Must See and Do

Antrim House

This grand late 19th century landmark, crammed with period furniture and antiques and several important heritage collections, is set close to Lambton Quay and attests to the wealth of the city in the colonial era. Its extensive grounds and gardens are a joy to wander. 

Government House

Another spectacular colonial pile, recently restored and renovated, Government House is still the home of HM Queen Elizabeth’s representative. Its glorious period interior containing fine art and antiques is open to the public only once every year, but its imposing façade is well worth seeing.

Old Government Buildings

Constructed in 1876, these massive wooden structures are amongst the world’s largest. Located close to Lambton Quay and designed in the Italianate style with lavish interiors, the complex is one of the most important heritage sites in New Zealand.  

Hutt River and Valley

Set in the Kaitoke Regional Park, the Hutt River meanders through the glorious Hutt Valley just outside the city on its way to the harbour. Here are great walking, hiking and horse-riding trails and sheltered, secluded picnic spots overlooking the waters. The river featured in the Lord of the Rings movies as the Great River Anduin. 

Wellington vineyards and wineries

Less than an hour’s drive from the city centre, the vast Wairarapa vineyards and wineries welcome visitors from across the world. Many wines made in these fertile hills are now well-known and have won awards, with a tour here giving plenty of sampling opportunities.

Kelburn Cable Car

A favourite with visitors, the funicular railway runs from Lambton Quay to Kelburn high on a hill, giving spectacular views of the city, its harbour, the ocean and the surrounding heights. 

Ascot Street

One of the city’s best heritage streets, Ascot Street in Thorndon district is a walk back in time for visitors, with many historic buildings dating from the 19th century.

Porirua Harbour

Wellington’s original harbour is now a popular recreation centre, featuring water sports, sea-fishing, sightseeing cruises and walking trails. Its scenic bays and natural beauty draw both locals and visitors who spend whole days exploring its attractions.

Wellington Lord of the Rings

Much of the magical movie trilogy of Lord of the Rings was filmed in the Wellington area, with guided tours to all the filming sites of extreme beauty now one of the most popular attractions in town. 

Wellington: Our Year-Round Weather Forecast

Wellington’s climate is classified as temperate marine, meaning moderate all year round, with even summer temperatures rarely topping 24?C and normally around 20-22?C, with winter lows of just above freezing. However, the city, nicknamed ‘Windy Wellington’, is set in the ‘Roaring 40’s’, with exceptionally strong southerly blasts and accompanying wind-chill, particularly during the winter months. The winds blow all year and bring high rainfall, especially in June and July. In the hilly suburbs and the Hutt Valley, winter frosts are common from May through September.

For sun and sea, summer is the best time, with sea breezes cooling the occasional seriously scorching days, but a light, windproof, coat might be useful for evening excursions. Sea temperatures range from cool to chilly, but will hardly affect keen water sports enthusiasts. Hikers and walkers exploring the stunningly beautiful inland areas and the views along the rugged coast will appreciate the lack of high heat and humidity. 

Weather in Wellington can change in an instant at any time of year, with cold fronts roaring in and occasional sub-tropical cyclones, with visitors advised to bring suitable changes of clothing, although temperatures around the capital are warmer than on South Island a short distance away across Cook Strait. The spring and autumn months of September through November and March though May can be especially changeable, and winter ski and snowboarding trips to the hills surrounding the city are becoming popular for their easy access from the city, with good facilities and inexpensive prices. Winter is also a good time to explore Wellington’s 50 museums.

Non-sporting types will love the festivals here, with events continuing almost weekly throughout the year. January is the month for the city’s Summer Mardi Gras, a fun-filled extravaganza with parades, entertainments and street parties. From late February for a month, the New Zealand Fringe Festival offers all kinds of performances and art shows, and the International Dragon Boat Festival is also held in March. Two great music festivals enliven October, the month-long International Jazz Festival and the weekend Folk Festival. Christmas is a month-long summer celebration here, beginning with Carols by Candlelight along the harbour and Frank Kitts Park.

Temperature average in December

12.6 - 19.6°C

Rainfall average in December

55.5 mm

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