Virtual Vacation: Visit Scenic Wellington, New Zealand

By Allyson ChenLast Updated Oct 22, 2020 1:47:01 AM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Ready for an adventure that appeals to your creative side? Wellington, New Zealand, is an eclectic, creative destination that's full of history, art, indigenous Maori culture, fine dining and friendly residents. With such an abundance of amazing things to offer, this capital city is a microcosm of everything there is to love about the country as a whole.

Our Virtual Vacations series offers you the chance to immerse yourself in Wellington from the comfort of your living room. If you’re one of the many people continuing to stay close to home due to ongoing coronavirus concerns, then you may be looking for ways to connect online, and this segment of the series shows you some of what the city has to offer. To enhance the experience, we'll suggest ways to bring the country into your home through food, music and the arts. The result will get you as close as possible (for now) to this fresh and unique part of the world. Let's explore Wellington, New Zealand, together!

Brush Up on Wellington’s Rich Culture and History

Plenty of resources are available to help you get to know what Wellington is all about. Start with a video walking tour of the city that gives you a direct look at the highlights of what the city has to offer. If you want to prepare for your virtual vacation by learning a little more about Wellington in advance, you can read up on the city's history at the Wellington-focused pages at The city is relatively young — founded less than two centuries ago — but a lot of history has earned the city national and international prominence.

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Photo Courtesy: Unsplash/Christian Newhauser

If you’re interested in art and culture, your exploration should start with the country's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa. Known as one of the best interactive museums in the world, it engagingly tells the expansive story of New Zealand while teaching you all about Maori culture. A visit to the museum's website gives you a taste of the un-stuffy, stimulating approach that attracts huge numbers of visitors. You can also take the opportunity to engage with interactive content to help you learn all about a New Zealanders' world — even while you're a world away.

Enjoy Some Award-Winning Dishes and World-Class Wines

Many of the country's most famous restaurants are located in Wellington, and they serve up exactly the kind of options you would expect to find in a multicultural, cosmopolitan capital city. You can enjoy culturally authentic Maori dishes like Rewena bread, authentic Asian cuisine, fresh seafood dishes, wood-fired offerings and full-service brunches.

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Photo Courtesy: @NovaCooks/Twitter

Dining Wellington-style also gives you the chance to savor multiple kinds of adult beverages with your meals. The city really shines when it showcases the country's world-class wines, including Sauvignon Blancs that have gained worldwide attention in the last several decades as well as equally delicious Pinot Noirs, Malbecs and Rieslings. Many of the top wine suggestions are available online, allowing you to easily add a taste of New Zealand to any meal. If you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, try Lemon & Paeroa, a classic New Zealand soft drink that is also available online.

Check Out Wellington on the Big Screen

New Zealand’s lush, stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife have been featured in many blockbuster movies over the years, and Wellington is considered the capital of the nation's film industry. In fact, the city's nickname, Wellywood, is a tribute to the abundance of movie production studios, special effects shops and film support services that are available there.

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Photo Courtesy: Stephane Cardinale/Sygma/Getty Images

You’ll see shots of New Zealand when you watch iconic movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which includes plenty of scenes actually filmed in Wellington. The choice actually made perfect sense, considering director Peter Jackson grew up nearby. If you want to see Wellington elsewhere on the big screen, check out King Kong and look for Cook Strait (between New Zealand's north and south islands) and the city's surf beach, Lyall Bay, to make an appearance.

Jam to Some Great Music in Wellington

Anyone who visits Wellington quickly notices the vibrant music scene, and it's easy to also enjoy all that great music from the comfort of home. The options in the city include modern techno, trance music, rockabilly, blues, jazz and a lively dance scene.

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Photo Courtesy: Frank Hoensch/Getty Images

With the city’s reputation as a cradle for creativity, it’s not surprising that Wellington has given a number of extremely creative rock and underground bands their start. If you want a taste of Wellington original music, listen to songs by Black Seeds, Flight of the Conchords and Shihad. Branching out across the country, your options broaden to include country music legend Keith Urban (although he was raised in Australia). If 80's pop is more your thing, opt for Crowded House or Ladyhawke.

Take in Some Great Literature Filled with Masterful Storytelling

In line with its ancestral Maori heritage, the city of Wellington has been influenced as much by storytelling in the oral tradition as it has been by formal works of literature. If you’re not familiar with the style, this video by Maori New Zealand storyteller Joe Harawira provides a look at what it’s all about. Watch and listen as the island nation's deep mythology and centuries of oral history play out through words.

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Photo Courtesy: Tony/Flickr

The city also pays homage to New Zealand writers with a series of contemporary plaques on the waterfront that form the Wellington Writers Walk. The authors include short story writer Katherine Mansfield, poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Denis Glover, James K. Baxter and Joy Cowley.

Because the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in the area, many Tolkien lovers like to visit and enjoy scenery on the island that bring the details from the books to life. As mentioned, many sites can be found within the boundaries of Wellington, but if you go beyond the virtual city limits, you can also view photos of the hobbit homes that are still open to visitors.


Learn How to Support New Zealand from Home

It's easy to lend your support to the city's various nonprofit groups, even remotely. Depending on your interests, you could focus on efforts to preserve the country's culture and educate others by donating to Te Papa Tongarewa, or you could donate to the Maori Women's Welfare League.

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Photo Courtesy: Wolfgang Koehler/Getty Images

These are just a couple of suggestions, of course. You can find many more Wellington-based New Zealand nonprofit organizations on A Memory Tree. Simply choose one that is meaningful to you. Options range from health-based groups and human services agencies to arts and culture nonprofits and historical preservation groups.


We hope you've enjoyed your virtual tour of Wellington, New Zealand. After you finish virtually exploring this beautiful city, there are plenty of other places to see from your armchair. Here are some suggestions for other cities you might enjoy: