Wellington Harbour precinct is a vibrant area where locals meet to relax and exercise. There are loads of spots to take beautiful photos of the city. Some favourites are:
Solace of the Wind Statue/Chaffers Marina: the statue is a Wellington favourite and appears in lots of tourist photos. At this spot you can take photos of the cityscape (with and without the statue) and also of Chaffers Marina where, on a calm day, the reflections are beautiful. A short walk along Chaffers Wharf also will allow you to take photos back towards Oriental Bay, taking in the iconic St Gerard’s Monastery and the famous blue and white boatsheds.
Oriental Bay: a beautiful spot for photos of the city, and an ice cream! Cityscape photos featuring the iconic Carter Fountain throwing a jet of water into the air are pretty much obligatory for any visitor to the Capital! Oriental Bay is also a great spot for night photos of Wellington City. For these you will need a camera capable of dialling up a long exposure. If you don’t have a tripod, the seawall around the bay makes a useful spot to balance your camera.
Wellington Lagoon: The Lagoon and Wellington Boatshed make a lovely subject and are often more sheltered if Wellington’s ferocious wind is whipping up the harbour. It's also a great spot for people photography due to the nearby cafes, restaurants and bars.
No visit to Wellington is complete without taking in the views of Wellington city and harbour from atop Mount Victoria. You can drive and park at the top or, if you’re feeling energetic, you can take one of the many walking paths up the steep slope. At the top you can enjoy 360 degrees over Wellington, viewing the Airport and South Coast, Petone and Eastbourne and of course Wellington city itself. Framing up Wellington City and harbour makes a great landscape photo. Visit at the end of the day, and you can take photos during the soft light of golden hour and twilight, and then watch the city lights come alive as the sun sets. Mt Victoria is also a favoured spots to photograph the fireworks at Matariki.
Take a drive or a train trip out to Petone and enjoy both the boutique shopping and cafes along Jackson Street, as well as a walk along the Petone Foreshore. This beach is testament to Wellington’s wind, being covered in shells and driftwood, thrown ashore when the southerly blows. The driftwood can make an interesting photography subject, as can the sand patterns that form at low tide. Petone Wharf also makes a great subject for photos, reaching far out into the harbour. For more interest, take photos from within the grasses and flaxes high up on the beach.
Point Halswell Lighthouse
To get to this spot, you’ll need a car. The road from Evans Bay around to Wellington’s Eastern Suburbs is a beautiful drive, with lots of beach photos along the way. One of the best photography stop locations is the Point Halswell Lighthouse. The checked black-and-white paint job and surrounding rocky coastline makes for really interesting photos. This spot is a lot of fun to photograph, even in bad weather, as the wild ocean can really add to the scene. If you don’t mind an early start, it’s a great spot for sunrise!
If you are in Wellington for more than a day or two, a daytrip to Castlepoint is well worth it, and the area is a photographer’s paradise! Castlepoint is around a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Wellington. The lighthouse that stands tall on the natural reef is the natural photography subject and can be photographed from multiple angles to capture the best light and weather conditions. Even on a wild and windy day (very common at Castlepoint!) the clouds and ocean will create a stunning backdrop to the landscape. In addition to the lighthouse, the long sandy beach also creates stunning sand reflections for photography and a walk up Castle Rock will allow you to view and photograph the wider area from an elevated position.
This blog post was originally written for the Great Journeys of NZ magazine, available in Autumn 2021 on the Interislander Cook Strait Ferry and the Coastal Pacific, Northern Explorer and TranzAlpine scenic trains.