For an expatriate considering life in Wellington, you will not be disappointed with the creative and cultural buzz within New Zealand’s capital. Often referred to as ‘Wellywood’, with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro describing it as “Hollywood the way God intended it”, the world’s southernmost capital city is renowned for its thriving film industry — and not just because of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Similarly known for its sophisticated and extensive food scene, it’s said that this city has more food and drink per capita than New York, with coffee and craft beers to match.
The downtown area boasts many attractions. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet both call Wellington home, and the city hosts prestigious annual events such as the International Arts Festival and Wellington Sevens Rugby tournament.
For a historical insight, the Museum of Wellington City and Sea presents the city’s social and cultural history, and the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum — the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand — is one of the most interactive in the world.
Both the country and people pride themselves on their conservation efforts, and Wellington maintains this. Zealandia is a suburban eco-restoration project just 10 minutes out of the center. But if you are looking for real nature, travel to Kapita Island for New Zealand’s oldest nature reserve.
Wellington’s International Airport is the third busiest in New Zealand, but is the only one that has a large statue of Gollum to welcome you.
The city itself is extremely walkable and downtown Wellington is only 2 km in diameter. Because of its size, many people choose to travel by bike, with racks throughout the city and many mountain biking tracks situated just on the outskirts.
If having your own car is essential, there are a number of parking options — with free parking for two hours on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Buses, trains and ferries also run frequently.
As an expat, education may be an important aspect when considering living in Wellington. New Zealand is renowned for having a word-class education system, with statistics showing that high schools here score above the world average in reading, mathematics and science. As the capital city, Wellington is home to many of the best institutions.
The two main universities are the Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University. Both are ranked in the QS World University rankings top 500, and have programs ranked in the top 100 in the world. There are also three highly regarded institutes of technology/polytechnics, as well as a range of private training establishments.