A magnet for creative souls Wellington is New Zealand’s arts and culture capital. And there’s more than one reason why:
Wellington is home to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This innovative museum takes visitors on an exploration of the great stories of our country and the people who live here but not only that, it also houses New Zealand’s National Art Collection.
The Museum of Wellington City & Sea tells our city’s stories and gives local history a dedicated space.
You can’t walk two steps in Wellington without stumbling across a gallery. One of the jewels in Wellington’s art crown is City Gallery in Civic Square, which offers a programme of contemporary visual arts, architecture and design. The Cuba precinct has everything from quirky to specialised dealer galleries. Featherston and Victoria streets have a great collection of boutique galleries like Page Blackie and Avid Gallery. A short trip out of town is the cutting edge and contemporary gallery The Dowse Art Museum (it’s also got a great café), while PATAKA in Porirua is a must if you’re keen to look at Maori, Pacific Island and New Zealand art.
Enjoy live theatre at its best at Downstage Theatre, Circa Theatre and BATS. Or catch a show at the beautifully restored Opera House or the St James Theatre, which have a steady stream of ballet, opera, musicals and more. You’ll also find live theatre outside the city in the Hutt Valley at the Little Theatre or Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre or in Porirua’s Little Theatre.
Wellington has a vibrant local music scene and has produced some awesome bands like Fat Freddy’s Drop and The Black Seeds. From edgy local bands like Connan and the Mockasins to internationally acclaimed musicians, the city is alive with music nearly every night of the week. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the National Opera Company also call Wellington home, as well as the folk-comedy sensation, Flight of the Conchords. For a guide to gigs happening in the city, check out the Mukuna Gig Guide.
Filmmaker Peter Jackson’s work has taken Wellington to the world and brought the world to Wellington through movies like Avatar and the Lord of the Rings. Film-making and film-going are part of the culture in the city now fondly known as Wellywood. Catch a film at the amazing Embassy Theatre, which played host to the world premiere of the Return of the King – the final instalment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If the weather isn’t behaving, then escape to one of Wellington’s art house theatres for an intimate movie experience, visit the Empire Theatre in Island Bay, Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn, or the Lighthouse Cinema.
Hiding below seawalls or twisting and turning in the wind, sculptures pop up everywhere around you when wandering through the city. We love to embrace our windy days and to celebrate Wellington, artists have made a series of wind sculptures all around town – make sure you keep an eye out for them! Our favourites are the Water Whirler near Queens Wharf and the Pacific Grass near the airport. Also worth checking out is the Writers Walk along the waterfront.