Port Review: Wellington, New Zealand

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More than 90 ships cruise into Wellington's stunning harbour each summer, allowing visitors to this enjoy this compact, friendly city and it surrounds.


Often dubbed New Zealand’s version of San Francisco, this picturesque and energetic city is perched in the hills surrounding an expansive, hook shaped bay and a rugged coastline. Enjoying a cool climate, it is New Zealand’s capital, as well as a city of Edwardian architecture, rich in heritage and culture. As cities go it is quite small, but the downtown area undoubtedly has plenty of big city buzz and, being the nation’s capital it has a generous lineup of museums, theatres, galleries and arts organisations for visitors to enjoy, along with a thriving caffeine and craft beer scene. And beyond the city fringes it’s a popular jumping off point for Lord of the Rings location tours. 

The Facts

Location: On the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand.

Language: English.

Currency: New Zealand dollar.

Docking/anchoring: Most ships dock at Aotea Quay, which is just two kilometres or a 10 minute drive from the city centre of the city, while smaller ships use the Queens Wharf Terminal which is closer and an easy walk along the waterfront into downtown.

Transport: Taxis and public transport are readily available, while some cruise lines operates shuttles.

Don’t Miss

The cable car ride from Lambton Quay to the Kelburn Botanic Gardens is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions - and there’s a great view from the top.

Te Papa Tongarewa is a national museum boasting five floors of the country’s best art, history and nature, with guided tours available.

The Karori Wildlife Sanctuary is a great spot to see a variety of endangered native plants and animals, including birds.

Pimmer’s Ark is an old wrecked ship which was discovered beneath an old bank in 1997.

If you fancy getting out on your feet, Frank Kitts Park is a lovely recreation park which also boasts some interesting public art.

Best Photo Op

The easiest photo op is from the ride up or down in the cable car, but if you have stamina and time, head to the summit of Mount Victoria which is located just east of the centre of the city. 


Pick of the shopping spots include Cuba Quarter, which is home to some eclectic fashion and rising stars in the design world, also Lambton, which is home to many high fashion boutiques and specialty stores. Don’t miss historic Kirkaldie and Stains, which is often referred to as the New Zealand equivalent of Harrods. 

Food and Drink

Dining out is a way of life for Wellingtonians, and the city is home to many leading restaurants. If you are in town on a Sunday morning, head for Chaffers Dock on the waterfront to visit the City market, to sample some wares from Wellington’s best artisan producers. Coffee is also a big thing, so pick out any cafe you choose and enjoy!

Pick of the Excursions

If you are new to Wellington, the city can be explored easily on foot from the dock with the help of a good map. 

A popular tour attraction is to the famous Hobbit Middle Earth filming locations, including the Gardens of Isengard, the River Anduin and the Fords of Isen.

Kapiti Island is one of New Zealand’s most revered nature reserves on the west coast of the southern North Island.

Joanna Hall