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The Capital City

  • General Information

    Other Name: The Harbour Capital, District: Wellington , State: Wellington, New Zealand
    Area: 0 -
    Languages Spoken: English and Maori
    Long Distance Code: +64 4
    Importance: The Capital of New Zealand
    Best Time to Visit: December to February and September
    International Access: Connected to all the major cities of the world.
  • Description

    Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, situated at the southwestern tip of the North Island between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. The Wellington Urban Area is the major population centre of the southern North Island and ranks as New Zealand''s third most populous urban area with around 381,900 residents. There are around 473,700 residents in the Wellington Region. Wellington''s suburbs lie across four cities. Wellington City, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district and about half of Wellington''s population. Porirua City is situated on Porirua Harbour to the north and is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities. Lower Hutt City and Upper Hutt City are suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley. Although each of the four cities also contains a rural hinterland, almost all of the population is within the urban area.
  • Location

    Wellington stands at the south-western tip of the North Island on Cook Strait, the passage that separates the North and South Islands. On a clear day the snowcapped Kaikoura Ranges are visible to the south across the strait. To the north stretch the golden beaches of the Kapiti Coast. On the east the Rimutaka Range divides Wellington from the broad plains of the Wairarapa, a wine region of national acclaim.
  • Climate

    The city averages 2025 hours (or about 169 days) of sunshine per year.
When His Majesty''s Theatre (later to become the St James) was built in 1912, it was the largest vaudeville and picture theatre in Australasia.

Its designer, Henry White was an architect/engineer of exceptional skill who was well-known on both sides of the Tasman. Besides the St James, he designed 120 theatres, including the Auckland St James, the Hastings Municipal Theatre (now known as the Hawke''s Bay Opera House) and The Plaza in Christchurch.

His Majesty''s was the first entirely steel-framed and reinforced concrete theatre in this part of the world and boasted the latest theatrical and mechanical stage appliances. Designed for vaudeville, it was lower and broader than usual, allowing for greater intimacy between actors and audience.

Inside, the auditorium was highly ornamental, featuring elaborate cherubs, plaster curlicues and painted and gilded lyres, horns, harps, dancing cupids and masks representing Comedy, Drama and Opera. In the mid 1980s, the St James Theatre, although recognised as one of the country''s most valuable treasures, faced the threat of demolition.

The people of Wellington refused to sacrifice the theatre without a battle.

Just 5 minutes drive from central Wellington, Karori Sanctuary is New Zealand''s most accessible ''mainland conservation island''. This award-winning eco-restoration project gives visitors an unrivalled opportunity to experience our iconic native wildlife in its natural environment. Guided tours provide intimate encounters with birds and reptiles normally just found on remote offshore islands, and a chance to learn about a unique vision to turn back the clock to a time before humans arrived.

Day tours include a cruise across the scenic lower lake and a chance to look for New Zealand''s ''living dinosaur'' the tuatara. For a truly unforgettable experience, take the unique 2 hour tour by torchlight. When darkness has settled, your guide will start looking for New Zealand''s elusive national mascot - the kiwi. Recognised worldwide as a benchmark in urban ecological restoration, it has won numerous awards for its achievements, including the 2008 Tourism Award for Conservation in Action.

Old St Paul''s is a fine example of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture adapted to colonial conditions and material. Constructed entirely from native timbers, the glowing interior is enhanced by stunning stained glass windows. They not only present the finest references to ecclesiastical history but they tell the stories of the people of Wellington. Made of 19th century glass, most of the windows were imported from England as gifts. No longer a parish church but still consecrated, Old St Paul''s remains a place of spiritual significance to many and is living testimony to one of New Zealand''s greatest heritage battles when the diocese tried to dismiss the church that had served them for 98 years. It is a well-loved venue for weddings, concerts and many other cultural events. Old St Paul''s is currently hosting the exhibition ''A Friend in Need'' - a moving tribute to the US Marines who were stationed in New Zealand during WWII.

Te Papa is New Zealand''s bold and innovative national museum. Explore the great treasures and stories of this country - its unique natural environment, Maori culture and taonga (treasures), dynamic art heritage and its fascinating history.

This is no ordinary museum. Enjoy stimulating exhibitions, engaging presentations - even motion simulator rides.

Te Papa is recognised as a world leader in creating innovative and interactive museum experiences. With a combination of the latest technology and classic story-telling, the museum educates, entertains, and inspires you at every turn. Experience an exquisitely carved marae (Maori meeting place), walk through living native bush, then be shaken in the Earthquake House. Get hands-on in the children''s Discovery Centres, then venture into Our Space, a new multimedia experience, where you create the action! This is serious fun!

Te Papa is a ''must-see'' on every visitor''s itinerary. Since opening in 1998, the museum has been a huge success with international tourists and locals alike, attracting over 14.7 million visitors.

Experience an ''Introducing Te Papa'' guided tour delivered by highly entertaining and knowledgeable hosts. Adult $11, Child $5.50 (15 years and under). 1 November - 31 March: every day at 10.15am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and 7pm Thursdays. 1 April - 31 October: 10.15am and 2pm every day and 7pm Thursdays.

Te Papa is located on Wellington''s spectacular waterfront. The museum is open every day from 10am to 6pm and until 9pm on Thursdays. General admission is free.

WELLINGTON BOTANIC GARDEN: Features the colourful Lady Norwood Rose Garden, Begonia House, gift shop and café, playground, delightful duckpond and floral displays, the historic Bolton Street Memorial Park and numerous fascinating scenic walks.

OTARI-WILTON''S BUSH: Dedicated solely to native plants. Features a walkway through the tree tops, Information Centre - Te Marae o Tane, alpine garden, wonderful walking tracks and a fantastic fernery.

Located just a few metres from the cable car''s upper terminus and from a lookout with spectacular views over Wellington, this museum tells the story of the country''s only remaining public cable car system.

Visit us to catch up on the service''s colourful history, marvel at the machinery in the old winding room or climb aboard one of the old grip cars.

The museum shop stocks a great selection of Wellington and New Zealand gifts and souvenirs as well as a range of specialist transport books, DVDs and models.

The Wellington Cable Car Museum has Qualmark endorsed visitor activity status and won the New Zealand Tourism Industry award in both 2006 and 2007 for visitor activities and attractions: culture and heritage tourism.

Museum receives 2008 Tramway Restoration Award
The Cable Car Museum has been presented with the 2008 Tramway Restoration Award for the restoration of Grip Car 3 which operated on Wellington’s cable car service and is on display at the Museum.

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Open daily except Christmas Day, free admission

November 1 to April 30: 9.30am to 5.30pm daily
May 1 to October 31: 9.30am to 5pm daily
1 Upland Road (top of the cable car route).
Easy access by cable car, from Kelburn or from the Wellington Botanic Garden.
Wellington Zoo is a magical place of learning and fun, leaving visitors with a sense of wonder and respect for nature and a belief in the need for a sustainable co-existence between wildlife and people.

Wellington Zoo is New Zealand’s first Zoo, having been established in 1906. Wellington Zoo became a charitable trust in 2003, previously it had operated as part of Wellington City Council. The Trust Board has been instrumental in moving the Zoo forward and addressing legacy issues. One of the biggest successes for the Trust Board is the Zoo Capital Programme (ZCP) a ten year redevelopment plan for the Zoo, signed off by Wellington City Council in December 2006. The Trust must raise funds of $5million in five years to unlock Council’s funding for this capital development programme.

City Gallery Wellington is temporarily closed for an exciting $4 million building development designed by architect Stuart Gardyne. The project will involve a new two storey addition as well as seismic strengthening of the existing building.

Upstairs the much loved Michael Hirschfeld Gallery relocates to an enlarged gallery space, and the new Deane Gallery will exhibit Maori and Pacific artists. The new tower will also include the multi-purpose Adam Auditorium. Downstairs, the existing foyer will become a beautiful new gallery space, the Russell Hancock Gallery. Walk-through access from Harris Street will provide a vibrant thoroughfare to Civic Square. The enlarged, new-look City Gallery Wellington will re-open in Spring, 2009.