Interesting facts about Wellington


Wellington is the capital of New Zealand.

It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range.

As of April 2020, the population of Wellington is about 420,000 people. It is the second most populous city in New Zealand.

The city covers a total area of 442 square kilometers (171 square miles).

The highest point is at 495 meters (1,624 feet) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level.


Legends recount that Kupe discovered and explored the region in about the 10th century.

Before European colonisation, the area in which the city of Wellington would eventually be founded was seasonally inhabited by indigenous Māori.

In 1773, Captain Cook first anchored in Wellington harbour.

In 1839 a ship belonging to the New Zealand Company arrived with officials who were to select a site for the company’s first settlement. The site chosen, at the mouth of the Hutt River, proved unsuitable, and a move was made to Lambton Harbour on the west shore.

wellington history

The settlement was named in 1840 in recognition of the aid given the company by Arthur Wellesley, 1st duke of Wellington.

It was chosen to be the capital city of New Zealand in 1865.

Today, Wellington is a thriving urban centre with many galleries, museums, theatres and festivals. Cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, cinemas and apartments keep the inner city lively.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is New Zealand’s national museum, located in Wellington. Known as Te Papa, or ‘Our Place’, it opened in 1998 after the merging of the National Museum and the National Art Gallery. More than 1.5 million people visit every year.

museum of new zealand

The Government Buildings Historic Reserve, or more commonly referred to as the Old Government Buildings, is situated in Wellington. It was completed in 1876, and is the second-largest wooden building in the world (after Tōdai-ji in Nara, Japan).

old government buildings

The Beehive is the common name for the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, located at the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay, Wellington. It is so-called because its shape is reminiscent of that of a traditional woven form of beehive known as a “skep”. The building houses the offices of the prime minister and other ministers. Thus, the name “Beehive” is closely linked with the New Zealand Government.


Wellington Museum occupies the 1892 Bond Store, a historic building on Jervois Quay on the waterfront of Wellington Harbour. It was recently voted as one of the top 50 museums in the world The Times, London. The museum has four floors covering the history of Wellington.

wellington museum

Perched on a hill that overlooks the Wellington Harbour, St Gerard’s is arguably one of the capital’s most prominent historic landmarks. The Catholic Church was erected in 1908 and was the first in the world to be dedicated to the Italian saint Gerard Majella. A monastery was later incorporated in 1932, despite initial resistance from the archbishop – while he could see the structure’s landmark potential, he was also concerned that it would overshadow the original place of worship.

St Gerard's Monastery

The Wellington Cable Car is a funicular railway in Wellington, between Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, and Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city, rising 120 m (394 ft) over a length of 612 m (2,008 ft). The one way trip takes approximately five minutes. The Wellington Cable Car is widely recognised as a symbol of Wellington.

wellington cable car

Wellington Zoo is in the green belt of Wellington. It was opened in 1906. Over time the zoo was expanded and upgraded. It is home to New Zealand’s native treasures and endangered exotic animals.

wellington zoo

Zealandia is a protected natural area in Wellington, the first urban completely fenced ecosanctuary, where the biodiversity of 225 hectares (just under a square mile) of forest is being restored. The sanctuary was previously part of the water catchment area for Wellington.


The Wellington Botanic Garden in Wellington, covers 25 hectares (69 acres) of land on the side of the hill between Thorndon and Kelburn, near central Wellington. The garden features 25 hectares of protected native forest, conifers, plant collections and seasonal displays. It also features a variety of non-native species, including an extensive Rose Garden. It is classified as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.

wellington botanical garden

Space Place at Carter Observatory or simply Space Place is housed in a historic astronomical observatory located at the top of the Wellington Botanic Garden in Wellington. Space Place is a public museum and planetarium with a focus on space and New Zealand astronomy. The Observatory houses a digital planetarium as well as an historic 9​3⁄4-inch Cooke refractor telescope, through which evening visitors can observe a variety of Solar System and deep-sky objects.

space place

Wellington is characterised by small dining establishments, and its café culture is internationally recognised, being known for its large number of coffeehouses.

Averaging 2,055 hours of sunshine per year, the climate of Wellington is temperate marine, generally moderate all year round with warm summers and mild winters, and rarely sees temperatures above 25 °C (77 °F) or below 4 °C (39 °F)

Wellington is the world’s windiest city, with an average wind speed of 27 km/h (17 mph).