Wellington: New Zealand’s Capital City


We spent last weekend in New Zealand’s capital city Wellington , a two-hour drive south of Palmerston North. The self-proclaimed Capital of Cool has a population just under 178,000 and it located on the southern tip of the North Island.

We centered our get-away on a Super Rugby Game between the Wellington Hurricanes and the Western (Australia) Force at Westpac Stadium.  The stadium was built in 2000 right on the waterfront and it seats 34,500 (about 9,000 more than Washington Grizzly Stadium). The Hurricanes won 22-16, improving their record to 6-2 on the season, but attendance was dismal. I would estimate there were less than 5,000 individuals in attendance. It was a bit chilly and windy, but the Friday night game did not disappoint, as the professional athletes on both teams played an exceptional match.

It would have been great to see the stadium filled up with crazy rugby fans, but it provided us with another great perspective to appreciate. Missoulians are so fortunate to have an exceptional program in Grizzly Football, which provides family-friendly exceptional entertainment with a game-day environment that rivals the best in the nation. UM Intercollegiate Athletics plays a significant role in bringing the community of Missoula together to rally around something larger than us, and they have a significantly positive economic impact on the Garden City.

Where's the crowd? Don't they know there's a Griz in attendance?!

Where’s the crowd? Don’t they know there’s a Griz in attendance?!

Back in Wellington, we stayed at a hotel in Upper Hutt, about a 25-minute drive from the city center, due to the high price point of lodging. We took a drive around the city, then picked up University of Montana student Tim Friendson, who is currently studying abroad at Massey University in the capital city.

Tom and Tim Friendson

Tom and UM student, Tim Friendson.

We spent some time downtown, including the well-known Cuba Street outdoor pedestrian mall, had lunch and a beer, then spent the entire afternoon at the most spectacular museum I have ever seen!

The Te Papa Museum is truly incredible! Opened in 1998, the Te Papa building is on the Wellington waterfront and houses six floors (36,000 square meters) of exhibition space, plus a café and a couple of gift shops, all dedicated to the culture and the environment of New Zealand. With history dating back to 1865, Te Papa is the country’s national museum and appears well cared for and loved.

Maddy and me at the Te Papa Museum.

Maddy and me at the Te Papa Museum.

Our final day we actually returned to Te Papa to see one last exhibit we missed out on the previous day, then we went to the Farmers’ Market, zipped through the Wellington Library (which was fabulous) and took the Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens and the Carter Observatory, both of which overlook the entire city and bay of Wellington.  We had a quick sandwich for lunch and then hit the road back to Palmerston North about 4 pm on Sunday.

There is a great amount of Wellington we didn’t see, but we had a great time in the Capital of Cool. It’s a lively port town with exceptional destinations, clean streets, well-built waterfront, an abundance of bars and restaurants, and entertainment galore.




Linda McCarthy has served as Executive Director of the Missoula Downtown Association since 1999. Prior to that, she served as a Sports Information Director for Grizzly Athletics for 10 years. She is a two-time graduate of The University of Montana, where her husband, Tom Gallagher, is a professor in the Applied Computing and Electronics Program at Missoula College. Her daughter, Maddy Gallagher, is an outgoing and kind 11-year-old who has spent all of her school years at Lewis & Clark Elementary. They can be reached via email at: tomlinda@centric.net.