The vibrant multi-cultural city with two harbours

Just 20 minutes’ drive or train ride from Wellington, Porirua is a harbour city bordered by rolling hills, lush green in winter and in summer slowly turning to a toasted ochre.

Family walking on Colonial Knob in Porirua

The name of this beautiful spot is thought to have originated from great Polynesian explorer Kupe, who called the twin harbours which met in the middle ‘Pari e Rua’ – the meeting of two tides.

At one end of the harbour you’ll find Pauatahanui Inlet, known for its picture postcard boatsheds. The collection of 36 boat sheds, dating from the late 1940s and 1950s, are built in a mishmash of styles and painted jewel-like colours.

The area around the inlet has been inhabited by people for at least the last 600 years and the area is rich with wāhi tapu (Māori sacred sites), archaeological sites and historic places.

Porirua boatsheds
Whitireia Park sea view

The inlet is a designated wildlife reserve and has the largest area of salt-marsh and seagrass in the Wellington region which is home to plenty of birdlife, which you can spot from one of the specially-constructed viewing hides for bird watching.

Porirua is one of the region’s most culturally-diverse cities which you’ll experience when you head along to one of the city’s vibrant markets. The Saturday morning market at the Waitangirua Mall carpark has all of the hustle and bustle of a weekend market you’d find anywhere, but with a mix of cultures that give this market a unique sense of place. Market stalls sell clothing, Pacific Island crafts and food stalls serve up the flavours of the Pacific with the musical sounds to match.

Pātaka Art + Museum

Another hub for the community is Pātaka Art + Museum, a lively space of arts and culture that also houses the local library. Prominent in the foyer is a sculpture of a bull made from recycled cans of corned-beef by renowned local Wellington artist Michel Tuffery, referencing how this imported, high-fat food historically undermined local fishing, cultivation and cooking skills in the Pacific.

Inside Pātaka’s galleries you’ll find a regularly-changing exhibition programme of contemporary Māori, Pacific, New Zealand and international art. Afterwards, have a coffee or some lunch at Kaizen Café and look out over the traditional Japanese garden. Exiting through the gallery shop is highly recommended – Toi Store has a unique range of art and craft works made by leading New Zealand artists.

Family going to Pataka Art and Museum in Porirua
Adrenalin Forest ropes
Adrenalin Fores rope bridge
Titahi Bay

Go exploring

Porirua is heaven-on-earth for those who love to get active outdoors. Get high up amongst the tree tops at Adrenalin Forest, an epic aerial obstacle course consisting of high-wires and ziplines amongst the trees by the harbour. Or if you prefer hilltops to treetops, head to Whitireia Park for 180 hectares of grasslands and incredible views over Mana Island and Porirua Harbour. The Onepoto Loop Track is a popular trail that takes around two hours to complete – take your bathing suit and stop at Onehunga Bay on the way, a sandy beach that’s great for swimming and handily has changing sheds and toilets.

End your day in Porirua with more delightful boathouses – this time at Tītahi Bay, a popular swimming and surfing beach. Get some fish and chips for dinner from one of the local fish and chip shops (Kams and Golden Bay Takeaways both come highly recommend by locals) and take your kai down to the beach to watch the surfers catching their last break before the sun sets.

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