Two people walk along Wellington's waterfront on a sunny winter day. The city centre is visible in the background.

Your guide to winter in Wellington

Exterminate! Exterminate! 

The TARDIS has landed, and the Daleks are loose. Fans of the hit television series ‘Doctor Who’ will be pleased to hear that an exclusive exhibition is being hosted at Tākina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre over winter. Come face to face with the iconic characters and on-screen worlds from across the show’s history. Explore scientific concepts like time travel, and why the TARDIS is bigger on the inside. ‘Doctor Who’ first aired in 1963 and has been broadcast in more than 50 countries. This is the first time the exhibition has left UK shores. ‘Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder: Where Science Meets Fiction | Doctor Who Ngā Ao Mīharo: Te tūtakitanga o te Pūtaiao ki te Pakimaero’ runs until 28 October. 

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A stellar occasion to celebrate 

The reappearance of the star cluster Matariki (also known as Pleiades) is a special occasion in the New Zealand calendar. It marks the start of the Māori New Year. It heralds a time to reflect on the year that’s been and plan for the year ahead. The Wellington waterfront will be a hive of activity from 27 to 30 June with Matariki Ahi Kā. Running each night from 6 to 9pm organisers promise fire, light projections, live music, and food. 

Continuing with the star theme, this is an ideal time to visit Te Ara Whānui ki te Rangi Space Place. Located in the Wellington Botanic Garden, Space Place is home to a digital full-dome planetarium, the historic Thomas Cooke telescope, and galleries and exhibitions. You can learn more about the Matariki star cluster and many others. Find out how to spot New Zealand’s own groups of stars, like the Pot, Maui’s Fish Hook, and the Southern Cross. 

Back to Black 

Winter means rugby, and in Wellington, it means the All Blacks. The capital gets to host two massive international games between the ABs and their rivals this season. Be part of the action as they take on Argentina and Australia. Sky Stadium will be bursting at the seams with fans. The boys in black play Argentina on 10 August and Australia on 28 September. 

Four rugby players fighting for the ball during an All Blacks game.

Crazy little thing called Queen 

After the All Blacks rock Sky Stadium the Capital Theatre Trust will rock the St James Theatre. For the first time ever the blockbuster Queen musical ‘We Will Rock You’ is coming to the city. Featuring 24 of Queen’s greatest hits, the musical rivals the scale and spectacle of the band’s legendary live performances. Its 12-year run in London played to 6 million people. Mamma mia, let me go! 

After all the hub-hub of hollering at sport matches and singing along to Queen, you may want a quiet night at home with a good book. Wellington has a great selection of independent bookshops. From new to secondhand you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. Every genre is covered and many host book launches, poetry readings, and mini-concerts. 

Food glorious food 

Did your belly just gurgle in anticipation of the largest culinary festival in the southern hemisphere? For the whole month of August, it will be wall-to-wall food as Visa Wellington On a Plate takes over. For 2024’s festival, the theme is ‘play with your food’. Expect playful dishes, fun and creative events, and a dollop of audience participation. 

Burger Wellington is part of Visa WOAP. From 5 to 25 August, you’ll need to prepare an appetite. The best hospitality kitchens in the city are producing around 200 wonderful and wacky burger creations. On top of all of this fantastic food, you also have Beervana. Hitting Sky Stadium on 23 and 24 August, the ultimate beer festival presents a huge lineup of beers, brewers, and bites to eat. 

Cosy spots for a drink 

If you need that extra bit of warmth in the form of a tipple, dram, snifter, or pint, there are plenty of cocktail bars and craft beer haunts that will happily welcome you in from the cold.

Dee’s Place is one of Wellington’s best-kept secrets — an underground whiskey bar. Head down the stairs below a stag head on Cuba Street. This is a spot you need to be in the know to find, just like Ascot and Puffin on Ghuznee Street. All three have great drinks lists and accommodating staff, making the hunt to find them worth it.