International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

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What's Wellington Like?

Wellington is a bustling city full of international influences and native culture, nestled amongst the beautiful green hills of the North Island and set on the shores of Cook Strait, the waterway that separates the two main islands of New Zealand. As the capital city and seat of government, Wellington is home to the Parliament Buildings and Government Buildings, among the most notable of which is the Executive Wing of the Parliament Buildings, commonly called the Beehive because of its iconic architecture.

Colloquially referred to as Wellywood, Wellington has become the nucleus of several film projects from studios around the world, most famously the Lord of the Rings films from director Peter Jackson, who makes his home in Wellington. Among Victoria University's alumni are actor Sam Neill, Flight of the Conchord's Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, filmmaker Taika Waititi, and Academy Award winners Fran Walsh and Jane Campion. The city also draws the attention of those seeking a new and different culinary experience as well as adventurers and thrill-seekers. Mount Victoria, set in one of the city's many green spaces, offers visitors a panoramic view of Wellington as well as hiking and biking trails.

Centrally located in the country, Wellington serves as a jumping off point to visit other parts of New Zealand. The capital city is only a few hours' drive from the sunny Hawkes Bay region of wineries and vineyards or the beautiful Lake Taupo, home to hot springs and the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike. From Wellington Harbor, ferries transport passengers and cars across Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island, a trip of just over three hours. Queenstown, Christchurch, and Auckland are all a short flight away from Wellington International Airport.

Fun Facts about Wellington:
  • 25% of the people in Wellington are born overseas, contributing to its rich cultural scene.
  • Deutsche Bank named Wellington the city with the best quality of life in 2017, beating 47 global cities to the top spot.
  • Wellington has the highest proportion of residents with tertiary education qualifications compared to the rest of New Zealand.
  • In the Nielsen Quality of Life Survey, Wellington's safety, arts scene, public transport and 'satisfaction with life in general' topped the rest of New Zealand.

Region and Population

New Zealand's second most populous city, after Auckland, the Wellington Region has approximately 496,000 inhabitants, 41% of which live in the city. The population is a mix of Maori, Pacific Islanders, and people of European descent. The surrounding region is also called Wellington. It is the southernmost region of the North Island and includes the cities of Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua, Masterton, and several smaller communities.


Wellington enjoys about 169 days of sunshine each year. The city has a temperate climate, though during the winter months (June and July), southerly winds lower the temperature and bring large amounts of rain. Winter temperatures tend to stay around 48 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius), and summer temperatures rise to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) during January and February.
Avg. Rainfall2.982.7483.4293.2914.4455.2285.4134.463.854.5243.8193.323

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