Wellington Harbour

Sheltered swimming beaches and bays make up the southern Hutt Valley along with a rugged and beautiful south coast with three lighthouses to explore

Cruise over by ferry

The East by West Ferries run across the harbour each day from Wellington to the Eastern Bays. Catch the short trip to Days Bay for some safe sea swimming or to join the locals to jump off the wharf.

 

The legend of two taniwha

The Māori name for Wellington, and for Wellington Harbour, is Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Long ago, as the story goes, it was a lake cut off from the sea. It was abundant in fresh water fish and native bird life. And also home to two taniwha, Ngake and Whātaitai.

 

Matiu/ Somes Island

Feel the wind in your hair as you ride the East by West Ferry to predator-free Matiu/Somes Island. The scientific reserve is home to the tuatara and little blue penguins. Explore the islands' history as a quarantine station and war-time prison.

Matiu and nearby Makaro islands were named by explorer Kupe in honour of two of his daughters. In 1839, Matiu Island was assumed by the New Zealand Company, along with much of greater Wellington. The island was renamed Somes, after Joseph Somes, the company’s deputy-governor and financier at the time. Somes remained the islands' name for the next 150 years.

 

Lighting the way to the harbour

Pencarrow Lighthouse was New Zealand's first permanent lighthouse, first lit in 1859 and joined by the lower lighthouse in 1906. Baring Head now has Wellington's main beacon for maritime navigation.