Photographer’s paradise: Best locations for taking photos in Wellington New Zealand

As keen photographers ourselves, we know that Wellington is a city jam-packed with photo opportunities. From cityscapes to dramatic coastal vistas and some photogenic (if a little shy) wildlife, there is something for every visitor or budding photographer alike. Let’s check out some of the best locations for taking photos in Wellington New Zealand
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is nestled on hills around a beautiful harbour. Each hilltop or coastal bay offers a new perspective on the city. The city’s diverse neighbourhoods with colourful houses and quirky street art provide the perfect backdrop whether you are after holiday snaps or an urban anthology.
This guide suggests the best locations for taking photos in Wellington and is divided into themes so you can easily find the top locations for taking the photos that you are interested in.
Short on time or don’t have your own transport? A customised Wellington tour with uTours is the perfect way to make sure you hit all the great photography spots. As you are only travelling with your friends and family, when you shout stop – as long as it is safe to do so, we will. Happy clicking everyone.

Iconic Wellington scenes

Top of the Cable Car

It doesn’t get much more iconic than this! Take the cable car up from Lambton Quay in the centre of town and stay on until the last stop. There are views across the city and harbour from the top.

Top Tip: To get the snap with the cable car in the background, listen out for the bell that warns the cable car is about head back down the hill, you then have about a minute to get yourself in position.

Oriental Parade

From Oriental Parade you can capture several classic Wellington photos:

Boatsheds with St Gerard’s Church and Monastery on the hill in the background

Built in 1908 (the church) and 1932 (the monastery), these buildings are classified as category one historic places. They were sold by the catholic church in 2023 and are now in private ownership.

The Seven Sisters houses

These San Franscisco inspired houses at 188 – 200 Oriental Parade are known as the Seven Sisters. Designed by Joshua Charlesworth they are the remainder of an original group of nine. Eight were completed in 1907 and the last in 1909.

The Carter Memorial Fountain

The Carter Fountain was donated by local businessman Hugh Carter who drowned just a few days after it was opened in 1973. For more information, including operating times, see Carter Fountain .

Top Tip: Late afternoon is a great time to take photos from this side of the harbour as you can catch the afternoon sun on the hills. The fountain is often lit up in the evening, providing another good photo op.

Mount Victoria

At 196 metres (643 feet) above sea level, the summit of Mount Victoria (Tangi-te-keo ) gives you sweeping 360 degree views across harbour and the southern suburbs.

Top tip: The summit is a great spot for sunset or sunrise photos – so get up early!

Nature

Botanic Gardens

Enjoy 25 hectares of specialised plant collections at the Wellington Botanic gardens. The gardens are wonderful for shots of beautiful landscapes, diverse plants and the occasional sculpture!

You can access the gardens from the main entrance on Glenmore St, through the Bolton Street Cemetery or from the top of the Wellington Cable Car.

Top Tip: Don’t overlook the Begonia House if you are looking for up-close studies of stunning plants… can you find the crazy bat flower?

Zealandia

Zealandia, the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary is the perfect place for capturing many of New Zealand’s native birds. Thanks to the sanctuary, previously absent birds such as Tuī, Kākā and Kererū are now common around much of central Wellington.

The sanctuary is in the suburb of Karori and many of Wellington’s bus routes have stops within 5 minutes walk. A free shuttle is available from the information centre on Wakefield St or from the top of the Cable Car.

Top Tip: For the best chance of seeing Kiwi, book at night tour at zealandia.

Battle Hill

Battle Hill Farm is a working farm with over 500 hectares of rolling paddocks, native bush and forestry. Feeding the New Zealand Long Fin Eels that live in the stream makes for great active wildlife shots. You may also catch sheep or horses if you are there on the right day.

Getting there: Take State Highway One out of town. Turn off at the Pāuatahanui exit (Highway 58). At the second round-about take Paekākāriki Hill Road and drive through the Pāuatahanui village. Battle Hill is about 6 minutes from the village on the right.

Urban Landscapes

Cuba, Dixon and Leeds Streets

Capture the vibrant bohemian vibes of this end of town after you’ve grabbed some coffee to sharpen your focus. This is the perfect place for street photography and documenting urban life with some great examples of early 20th Century architecture thrown in for good measure.

Top Tip: If you love your camera, don’t get too close to the Bucket Fountain.

Aro Valley

Some of Wellington’s most photographed and painted houses are in Aro Valley. See the colourful workingmen’s cottages on Aro St. Capture the off-beat character of Holloway Rd (the hub of an area formerly known as Mitchelltown). Can you find the plaque that marks the spot of New Zealand’s notorious cold war arrest?

Waterfront

You can walk along the Wellington waterfront from the Railway Station to Chaffer’s Marina. With harbour and city views it is perfect for street and urban photography. The waterfront also has a range of street art and sculptures to capture along the way.

Architecture

Parliament Buildings

Wellington became New Zealand’s capital in 1865. The buildings that make up the parliamentary precinct range from the gothic revival Parliamentary Library to the circular Beehive and offer great opportunities for creative perspectives.

Top Tip: If you are visiting over December- January, be sure to include shots of the beautiful in-flower Pohutukawa trees in the grounds.

National Library

Also on Molesworth St is the National Library Building. Completed in 1987, in our view this is the best example of brutalist architecture in Wellington, and possibly the country. There are lots of great angles and shadows to capture.

Old Government Building

Across the road from the Parliament buildings on Lambton Quay is the Old Government Building. Built in 1876 from native timber (kauri) it was the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere, a record it held into the 1990s.

Old St Paul’s

On the next block over from Parliament (Mulgrave St) you will find Old St Paul’s Church. Built in 1866 this gothic revival church is a beautiful architectural piece of Wellington’s history, showcasing four different native timbers in the beautiful interior.

The Best Locations for Coastal Photography in Wellington

Wellington’s south coast offers a dramatic rocky coastline, moody skies and a backdrop of hills.

Driving from Seatoun to Owhiro Bay, some of our favourite places to look for photo opportunities are:

Breaker Bay

Named for how the waves break onto the rocks, great for shots across the harbour entrance.

Ataturk Memorial

This is worth the climb to get a different perspective of the coastline looking out towards the South Island.

Island Bay

Capture Tapu te Ranga Island in the middle of the bay, especially dramatic at either end of the day when the skies light up with stunning colours.

Te Kopahou Reserve (Red Rocks)

Depending on the weather you might be able to see the Kaikoura ranges on the North-East of the South Island. This shot can be spectacular in winter when the light catches the snow on the mountains.

The reserve is also a haven for astro photographers. The aurora australis and the milky way are visible often enough to tempt the keen photographer to brave the southerly winds that may join them for the evening.

Top Tip: Over summer you may catch dolphins and orca at many of these spots around the coast. Whales are more likely to be spotted in winter as they migrate to Antarctic feeding grounds.

Getting up high

The Wellington region’s hilly terrain provides many high spots for capturing beautiful views. You might need to hold onto your hats though, Wellington’s famous wind may join you. Our favourites up high photo spots are:

Paekākāriki Hill Road

Travelling north out of Wellington on State Highway 59 or heading up the Paekākāriki Hill Rd, there are several spots to capture the beautiful Kāpiti Island.

Wellington Wind Turbine

The road is not for the faint hearted but the stunning views makes the winding drive or walk worthwhile. The second highest vantage point in Wellington is 299m (980f) above sea level and offers stunning views across the city and harbour.

Khandallah

On a bend near the top of Onslow Rd, there is an Observation Desk with stunning views across the city to Mt Victoria. An excellent spot to capture the sunset or visiting cruise ships.

Wainuiomata Hill

The Wainuiomata Hill offers another great perspective from the other side of the harbour, including a closer view of Matiu/Sommes Island.

Summary

Wellington is full of great photo spots. Iconic Wellington photos can be taken from Mt Victoria, the top of the Cable Car and Oriental Parade. But Wellington has so much more for the keen photographer. Its eclectic architecture, hilltops and diverse neighbourhoods provide many of the best locations for taking photos.

A drive along the southern coast provides many opportunities for capturing dramatic scenery. Astrophotography enthusiasts will be delighted by the ease with which they can get dramatic photos such a short drive from the city centre.

As keen photographers, at uTours we love supporting you to get the most out of your time in our home city. Do get in touch if you would like us to help you get the best photos of our favourite city Wellington.