We’ve put together the ultimate moving to Wellington guide for anyone interested in, or moving to, the Capital city from overseas or other parts of New Zealand!
A creative mecca and cosmopolitan crowd pleaser…
Boasting a vibrant, busy and wonderful urban backdrop within the North Island, Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. Wellington is a cosmopolitan city with an energetic personality. The attractive waterfront, simply stunning harbour and taste sensational dining scene creates not only a spectacular destination spot but a perfect place to dig roots and call home. While there is a healthy rivalry going on between all the big cities of New Zealand, there’s a lot that this creative capital offers to punch well above its weight and it won’t take you long to fall head over heels in love with this city. It really is one cool capital.
The city is the country’s second most populous urban area and proudly took over the reins from Auckland in 1865 as the most southernmost capital city in the world, very impressive. It is home to New Zealand’s Parliament and many government industries, housed in the iconic and appropriately named landmark – The Beehive. Legend has it that this city's well-known Parliament Building was actually designed on the back of a napkin as a joke. The designer never thought for a moment it would be built. Little did he know!
This great city is informally named ‘Wellywood’, a nod to the many film related facilities here and to the film production business established in the city by The Lord of the Rings film director Sir Peter Jackson, and Wellington-based special effects companies Weta Workshop and Weta Digital.
New Zealand’s capital city is a buzzing cultural and arts centre with an impressive culinary scene. You’ll be spoilt with an array of fabulous cafes, shops, theatres and award-winning restaurants. The city scene is active and ridiculously easy to get around. And there are plenty of scenic spots outside of the city centre too.
There’s lot’s to do, plenty to eat and an awful lot to see. The Wellingtonians are a good folk and it’s safe to say Wellington has quite possibly formulated the perfect, bustling blend of corporates donning suits with funky and wildly creative hipsters living harmoniously in an artsy wonderland. There is certainly no doubt that this iconic New Zealand city is one of the best.
While Wellington has earned its reputation for being wild and windy, this cool capital certainly makes up for that with sunshine. Around 2,000 hours a year in fact, which is rumoured to be slightly more than Auckland but we’re not here to brag.
It’s true that the breezy capital typically experiences more gusts that the rest of the country on average, and is generally windy all year round. The city is notorious for its southerly blasts in winter, which can make the temperature feel much colder.
The city’s strongest winds were an incredible 248 km an hour, at Hawkins Hill on 6 November 1959 and 4 July 1962. (This was just under the national record...on 18 April 1970, gusts of 250 km an hour hit Mt John in Canterbury). Great weather for kite surfing in Wellington’s fabulous harbour!
Wind factor aside, Wellingtonians enjoy a rather moderate and mild temperature throughout the entire year. Summer is a comfortable climate, the warmest month being February. The best weather in Wellington is during October to April, when average temperatures are between 17°C and 21°C. Winter in Wellington is over before you know it and never extreme, with the occasional frost. The wettest month is May with an average of 50mm of rain.
Wellington may get a bit of stick for the weather but it’s true that you really can’t beat Wellington on a good day!
Wellington is comprised of 4 cities. Wellington city located between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour with about 50% of the population; Porirua on Porirua Harbour; Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt to the northeast.
At the start of the 21st century, Wellington’s inner city residential population increased by 41% in just five years due to the thriving downtown and apartment development.
Close to 500,000 people live in the Wellington region, which is 10.6% of New Zealand's population. The Wellington region is home to many diverse cultures, with Statistics New Zealand estimating around 25% of the people in Wellington are born overseas.
Wellington is second only to Auckland in terms of its ethnic variety. From the national census in 2006 we learnt that the area had the second-highest Asian population in the country at 8.4% (Auckland: 18.9%), and the second-highest Pacific Islander population at 8% (Auckland: 14.4%). More than 26% of Wellingtonians were born outside of the country. In 2013, almost 73% of the population identified as European in Wellington City.
Wellington city contains both the business district and nearly half of Wellington's population. Porirua, meanwhile, is known for the large Pacific Island and Maori communities. The population breakdown of the four cities, according to the 2006 census, was:
If you’re touching down at Wellington airport, look out for the orange Stagecoach Flyer Bus takes visitors between the airport and downtown Wellington, and then north to the Hutt Valley. The new Flyer bus includes free wi-fi.
Getting around Wellington’s capital city and surrounding districts is SUPER easy with the extensive bus and train network. The Wellington Regions public transportation is actually very well developed in comparison to other parts of New Zealand. There are even a few public transport surprises in Wellington including its historic cable car that leaves from downtown Wellington to the leafy, village-like suburb of Kelburn. At the top of the Cable Car, you will find some of the best views of Wellington. There are also trolleybuses that are in use around the city centre. Up until 1964 there were even trams!
The public transport services are well used by the locals and marketed under the name Metlink. The system covers Wellington city, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua, the Kapiti Coast and the Wairarapa. Metlink has an easy to use journey planner to help you get anywhere within the Wellington region using buses, trains or ferries. Be sure to pick up a Snapper card from the Wellington i-SITE Visitor Information Centre - it's the cheaper and faster way to pay.
Explore the region with our accessible and affordable public transport or join a tour to see the city from an insider's perspective.
You’ll find navigating your way round the downtown area a breeze (excuse the pun) with the area being compact so restaurants, cafes, hotels, attractions and transport areas all within walking distance. In fact, one of the best ways to explore Wellington is on foot. The central city is only two kilometres in diameter, meaning you can walk from one side to the other in under 20 minutes.
Wellingtonians are fit! Over 18,000 of the city’s residents walk or jog to work and the waterfront is popular with runners.
With Wellington being so compact, hopping on a bike is also a great way to see the city. You can store your bike at one of the many bike racks around the central city.
If bus, train, bike or foot isn’t your thing, you may opt for travelling around Wellington by car. There’s loads of parking throughout the city, plus on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, on-street parking in the city is completely free (for up to two hours).
As with most cities, there are plenty of taxi companies in Wellington. For something a bit different, the drivers at Wellington Combined Taxis can be hired out by the hour, to show you around the beautiful city.
Wellington has an international reputation for quality education and provides a full range of outstanding education facilities. From excellent early childhood, primary and secondary schools (both private and state integrated), through to world-class universities and technical institutes, Wellington is home to many of the very best learning and creative institutions in New Zealand and is an inviting option for many students from all over the world. The education system in New Zealand is said to be modern and responsive, and considered up there with the rest of the world. In fact, both Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University are ranked in the QS World University rankings top 500, and both have programmes ranked in the top 100 in the world.
There are a number of tertiary institutions in the Wellington region, each offering a wide range of degrees in a large choice of subjects. The capital city also has several great options for adult community education.
Wellington city libraries allow you to explore and connect with a world of knowledge and ideas. There’s always something new to discover at our libraries and community centres.
Wellington City Libraries is the public library service for Wellington. The council owns and manages 12 branch libraries, housing over 600,000 books. Wellington City Libraries are working towards making as much information available as possible. You can search the libraries’ online catalogues including books, DVDs and CDs 24 hours a day, check your library card, view lists of new items and find information on popular topics.
With its vibrant economy, Wellington has a huge range of job opportunities in most industries, making it enticing to entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers, tech-gurus and creatives alike. While most public business in New Zealand is headquartered in Auckland, the capital city is central headquarters to the countries government departments also.
The region contributed 13.5 per cent of national GDP (year ended March 2016), provides 11.4 per cent of national employment and is home to 10.8 per cent of New Zealand’s population [Source: Statistics New Zealand data, 2017].
There are many avenues to search for employment such as online job vacancy sites, local newspapers, community job search services, business networking organisations and volunteering roles.
There’s always tonnes to do in Wellington! New Zealand’s capital city has a rich and well-rounded entertainment scene with something for everyone at any age, with any size budget and taste-buds, 365 days of the year.
Here you’ll find movie theatres, swimming pools, casinos, night clubs, restaurants, theatres and racing tracks if you fancy a flutter. Wellington has an all year round, jam packed calendar of events such as big-name pop and rock concerts, cultural and music festivals, must-see exhibitions, international sporting events, community celebrations, theatre, film and dance performances.
Brace your wallet, because you’ll find it all in when shopping in Wellington.
You will find what you’re looking for and more with a vast array of shopping troves, from stylish boutiques to quirky knick knack and gift stores. The city is full of trendy stores and darling boutiques, centred around Cuba, Willis, Victoria, Wakefield and Featherston Streets and, of course, the Golden Mile on Lambton Quay, so it’s easy and compact to navigate your shopping experience.
Wellington has a number of markets where you can pick up New Zealand original arts, crafts and mouth-watering artisan food products at a bargain price. Top markets include the Wellington Night Market (held off Cuba St on Fridays), Hill St Farmers’ Market (Saturday mornings at Thorndon), Wellington Underground Market (Saturday mornings at the Wellington waterfront) and Harbourside Market (Sundays by the iconic Te Papa).
When it comes to wining and dining, there are simply stacks of choices. It is said that Wellington has more bars and restaurants per capita than New York. Wellington is certainly passionate about cuisine and equally so about washing it down with local wines, world-class coffee or creatively brewed craft beer. Award-winning restaurants, cafés and bars are abundant with some of the finest food you’ll taste in New Zealand. Picked fresh from the land or the sea, dining out in Wellington is an incredible experience. From steakhouse to seafood, craft beer to a buttery chardonnay there are good times to be had in Wellington.
There’s so much to see and do in the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is child and family friendly. Make it arty, sporty, educational, entertaining and taste sensational all in the same day!
The sprawling waterfront is a great place to people watch or get in amongst it via scooter or skateboard. Stop for an ice-cream along the way, then head to Oriental Bay for a splash or just a soak in the sun.
Make it a learning experience by visiting the national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa. It’s a fascinating and fun for curious minds of any age. The exhibits are innovative and interactive, telling stories of New Zealand’s unique geological, biological, cultural and social history in new and exciting ways. By the way – general admission is free (some touring exhibitions have an entry fee). Or take a free tour through the parliament buildings to learn about New Zealand’s politics.
Check out New Zealand’s world famous movie-making magic at the Weta Cave mini museum. Weta Workshop operates studio tours and is your gateway to immersive film making experiences and the famous Weta Cave.
Stretch those legs and follow the beautiful walk up Mt Victoria. When you reach the lookout you will be treated to stunning 360 degree views of Wellington city.
For those who are up for it, Wellington is a two-wheel wonderland. The hilly, bushy and mountainous landscape across the Wellington region effortlessly perfect for some exhilarating mountain-biking with plenty of popular trails to choose from.
The fantastic thing is that Wellington is just as impressive on a wet winter’s day. There are stacks of cosy indoor activities and attractions to keep you and the family entertained. Settle in for a tasty hot chocolate or visit an exhibition or local gallery.
Wellington has a wide number of nature and wildlife adventures, have you ever seen an actual Kiwi or Tuatara up close? Visit one of Wellington’s eco-sanctuaries to be up close and personal with New Zealand’s adorable, flightless icon.
It appears that Mother Nature fell in love with Wellington also.
Wellington is simply stunning when it comes to surrounding nature and unique New Zealand wildlife. There are brilliant nature walks near every suburb. Wellington wildlife attractions include wildlife reserves and sanctuaries in the city and on the nearby offshore island reserves. Wellington has tons of forests and regional parks. Nestled between bush-clad hills and ocean, it’s here that you can experience it all from land to see, right on your doorstep.
Wellington Natural Wildlife Tours and Attractions may allow you a face to face encounter with some of New Zealand’s most unique, strange looking and rarest wildlife such as kiwis, tuatara and takahe bird.
Check out Zealandia, located just 5 minutes’ drive from central Wellington. This award-winning, urban eco-sanctuary is home to some of the world’s most extraordinary animals in their natural habitat.
Zealandia is the first fully-fenced urban eco-sanctuary in the world.
Wellington is a bright and charming city with a creatively quirky dynamic. In fact, the locals are adamant that it’s bloody great place to call home.
“New Zealand’s little capital may be unprepossessing in size, but it packs a punch when it comes to food, fashion and style.”