Things to See and Do in Wellington
While we're all geeking out at the conference, some geeks partners will be touring around Wellington in a programme specially organised by Heather Buchanan. This highlights some affordable and interesting sights around Wellington and is a good first stop for some ideas for touring around before or after the conference.
The full programme, with details of all the sights, is over here.
Websites for Tourism in Wellington
The main website for information about Wellington events, activities and sights. Bookings for various activities, including accommodation and travel, can be made on this site as well.
Wellington's guide to recreation and events. Feel like going for a swim? Want to know a great mountain biking track? Like taking walks? Find out where on this site.
Gig guides, movie sessions, events, places to eat - all can be found here.
You can search this site for cultural events, organisations and other links to do with Wellington.
There are several parks in the Wellington region which provide a good opportunity for short/half/full day walks.
Parks in the Wellington Region (scroll down the page)
For those from overseas keep in mind that the weather in New Zealand, and especially around Wellington, can change quickly (particularly the wind pick up) so take warm clothing with you even on the sunniest days, especially if you're going near the hilltops. For those from outside Wellington keep in mind that while most tracks are well formed and suitable for anyone with good mobility, almost all of them involve hills to at least some extent; there are some short flat tracks, but check the terrain carefully before starting out. (Several of the flatter tracks are also suitable for toddlers and/or children in buggies.)
There is public transport access near several of the parks, but some of the ones further out require a car. Entrance to all parks is free of charge, but there are charges for some amenities at some parks (including huts to stay overnight in some of them).
There are also some nice short walks around the Karori Sanctury amongst regenerating native bird life (if you're interested in native birds this is by far the easiest place near Wellington to see them). Entrance fees apply, but it all goes to the upkeep of the sanctuary.
For an easy stroll in the sun, try the Botanic Gardens (Page on Wikipedia), which amongst other ways can be reached via the Cable Car -- taking the Cable Car to the top and walking down through the gardens is a pleasant way to pass an hour or two.
Wellington has many ruins of coastal and air defence from the 1890-ish "Russian scare" and from World war 2. They are in various states of decay and varying levels of accessibility. Recommended are the the harbour entrance guns left in Fort Dorset, and the "Disappearing guns" ruins in Thorndon above the cookstrait ferry.
HMS Wellington was scuttled in Island bay about 3 years ago, and is now a dive wreck.
There are numerous ship wrecks off the coast of wellington, and some decaying on the beaches that are > 100 years old Department of Conservation has more info.
The SS Penguin
An older wreck with some relevance was that of the SS Penguin in 1909. The Penguin was an inter-island ferry that foundered and sank on Wellingtons south coast with the loss of 72 lives. Many of the victims are buried in the Karori Cemetery and there is a self guided tour available that takes around two hours for those inclined to learn a bit of local history.
And staying with the theme of the sea, there is of course the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, located on Queens Wharf. This is just a short walk north along the harbour front from the Conference centre (as per the map) and has a number of exhibitions pertaining to Wellington and its harbour.
The National Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, is also on the waterfront in Wellington, adjacent to Cable Street, a short walk east along the harbour from the Conference centre. If you have an interest in New Zealand history and culture, or the forces that shaped the land it's well worth a visit. You can also see the only Colossal Squid on display in the world, and play with images of New Zealand in OurSpace (a room-sized clustered computer interactive using Ruby/MySQL for the backend). Entrance is free, except to one or two premium exhibits (the Pompeii exhibit is the main for-fee one at present).