When to Go
November to mid-April is the best time weather-wise in the Wellington area. Most establishments are open (apart from Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Good Friday). In Wairarapa book well ahead if you're traveling during summer school holidays from mid-December to the end of January. From February to April, you can expect fewer crowds and many brilliant, warm days. Winters bring more rain, but they're rarely bitterly cold. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, though; rain and southerly gales are possible even during the summer.
Matariki. One of the key Māori occasions in Wellington is Matariki, the North Island Māori New Year in late May–early June, which begins with the first new moon after the appearance of Matariki (Pleiades). The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa hosts nearly a month of musical, storytelling, and dance performances; events kick off with a ceremony at dawn. Brochures, available at the museum, have details. For a unique gift or souvenir, Te Papa Press also publishes a superbly illustrated Matariki calendar; it runs from June until May and is based on traditional lore of the seasons. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 55 Cable St., Wellington, Wellington, 6011. www.tepapa.govt.nz/WhatsOn/Matariki.
New Zealand International Arts Festival. The country's major arts event is held February through March on even-numbered years at venues across the city. A huge array of international talent in music, drama, dance, the visual arts, and media descends upon Wellington. Events fill up quickly; check online for program information, and book a month in ahead if you can. Wellington, Wellington. 04/473–0149; www.festival.co.nz.
Summer City. One of the largest summer fests spans six weeks and hosts more than 70 events throughout the city. Wellington, Wellington. wellington.govt.nz/events/annual-events/summer-city.