Wellington, New Zealand - film capital on the edge

Wellington - New Zealand's 'creative capital' - is a city on the edge. Built on hills around a deep harbour at the southern tip of the North Island, this is a destination rich in art and culture.

Downtown, the city’s popular waterfront precinct provides the perfect book-ends to any day with cafés and restaurants overlooking the tranquil harbour, serving fresh, quality fare and the famous New Zealand flat white coffee.

Along the boardwalk, there's an ever changing line-up of entertainers, market stalls and artisans, or - for a more reflective experience - the Wellington Writers' Walk, celebrating the city's literary heritage on an easy 60-minute stroll past typographic sculptures of quotes inspired by Wellington.

The waterfront is also home to heritage buildings including the Circa Theatre where plays have been staged since 1976. The building contains two performance spaces and a café / bar. The front façade is the last remaining portion of Westport Chambers - the office of the Westport Coal Company, formed in 1885.

Te Papa Tongarewa

Across the courtyard from Cira Theatre is Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum and home of many important collections.

Te Papa offers an insider's view of the New Zealand experience. Entry is free and with six floors of innovative and interactive exhibits spanning art, history, Pacific, Māori, and natural environment, visitors can easily lose themselves for an entire day.

From Te Papa it's a short stroll to the historic Embassy Theatre, originally built in 1926 and given a significant make-over in 2003 in preparation for hosting the world première of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The Embassy has also hosted New Zealand premières for Peter Jackson’s King Kong and The Lovely Bones.

All eyes where once again on the historic Embassy Theatre when it played host to the highly-anticipated première of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012.

The theatre, which stands at the far end of Courtenay Place - Wellington's entertainment quarter - has become a beloved city icon and a place for visitors to check out include name plates featuring actors and film characters.

Film works

Opposite the Embassy, commanding the busy corner of Courtenay Place and Cambridge Terrace, stands an eye-catching fantastical public art sculpture. 'Tripod' was created by Weta Workshop in tribute to the New Zealand screen production industry.

Weta Workshop founder and NZ screen industry hero Sir Richard Taylor describes the intricate piece as "an out of control giant robot running amok… symbolising the ingenuity and unbounded imagination that the New Zealand screen industry thrives on."

Continuing on the film trail, fans can make their way up nearby Mt Victoria's steep slopes to discover stunning panoramic city sights and the scene of the first day of shooting for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy where Hobbits hid while being chased by Ringwraiths.

Public art

From Mt Victoria there are views across Evans Bay to Miramar - next stop on the film trail and location of the 'Wellington Blown Away' sign on Miramar Hill, and one of several public art installations that celebrate the power of Wellington’s prevailing wind.

The route linking the city, airport and Miramar features kinetic sculptures on the Meridian Wind Sculpture Walkway between the harbour and Cobham Drive. The five pieces in the series of wind powered works designed by a variety of New Zealand artists are most spectacular when the wind is at its best.

Weta Cave

Miramar's Weta Cave - a mini-museum and shop front of the world famous, Oscar-winning Weta Workshop - is a compulsory stop for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film fans.

Listed at the top of Wellington must-sees by Lonely Planet, Weta Cave offers an exclusive insight into the depth of creativity and imagination that goes into crafting the art of Weta. The mini-museum includes a small theatre showing a behind-the-scenes video of life at Weta, and lots of Weta art to take home as souvenirs.

The latest addition to Weta is the Window into Workshop at Weta Studios. Visitors are treated to a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of Weta Studios with a guided tour of the exhibition space.

Visitors can also catch an up-close look at various props and models created by Weta over the years and learn about some of the processes the ground-breaking staff used to create magic for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.

Finally, no day would be complete without a cocktail, meal and a movie at the recently revamped Roxy Cinema and Coco at the Roxy in Miramar - a magnificent restoration project driven by Wellington film notables Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger, Oscar-winning editor Jamie Selkirk and his wife Ann, foodies Valentina and Daminda Dias, and cocktail bar guru Jonny McKenzie.

The Roxy Cinema is a stunning reminder of the art deco styles of the ‘20s and ‘30s which had a significant impact on New Zealand architecture. Inside there is a small exhibition space to delight movie lovers of all ages that showcases local artists, and and detail and design features reflecting the passion of those who brought the building back to life.