The hills, harbours and coastline of the Wellington region provide many opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Windsurfing and yachting
Wellington’s famous winds often create ideal conditions for sailing and windsurfing, especially on Porirua and Wellington harbours.
Diving and fishing
The rugged coastline provides excellent fishing and diving. The waters around Kapiti Island form a marine reserve, established in 1991. Another reserve, Taputeranga, was established off Wellington’s south coast in 2008. Between Island Bay and Houghton Bay lies a ‘dive wreck’, the former frigate Wellington, deliberately sunk there in 2005. Diving and fishing are also popular at Makara and around Mana Island.
Historically, the region’s rivers have provided good trout fishing, especially the Hutt, Wainuiomata and Waikanae rivers. But as bush was cleared from the river margins, catches were reduced everywhere.
At home in the hills
Wellington athlete Melissa Moon has twice won the World Mountain Running Championship. In 2005 the event was held on Mt Victoria, and Wellingtonian Kate McIlroy won the women’s section. Another Wellington resident, Jonathan Wyatt, has won the men’s event seven times.
Tramping and hunting
The Remutaka and Tararua ranges are popular. The Tararua Tramping Club (established in 1919) pioneered organised outdoor recreation. The Tararua Range, which includes more than 3,000 square kilometres of rugged country, is visited by up to 150,000 people each year.
Wellington’s steep, narrow streets make cycling difficult. An exception is the scenic road round the Miramar Peninsula, an extremely popular ride. But the rugged terrain does make Wellington ideal for mountain biking.
Wellington’s first cricket club was formed in 1841, and games were played at Thorndon Flat. Since 1870 first-class and international games were held at the Basin Reserve, one of New Zealand’s finest cricket grounds. In 2000 one-day matches were transferred to the Westpac stadium.
Famous Wellington cricketers include the magical spinner Clarrie Grimmett, who played for Australia in the 1920s, and John Reid, a highly successful batsman and bowler.
Rugby and football
Since the early 1980s, football’s popularity has surged in Wellington, as elsewhere. On Saturdays, more youngsters play football than the more traditional rugby. The region is represented in the national football competition by Team Wellington, while in the Australian A-league the Wellington Phoenix represents New Zealand.
Wellington has a number of golf courses, ranging from modest municipal links at Berhampore and Makara, to Heretaunga and Paraparaumu, which rank among New Zealand’s best. In 2005 Michael Campbell, a golfer of international standing from Porirua’s Tītahi Bay, won the US Open – the first New Zealander to do so.
Brooklyn’s Renouf Tennis Centre is the region’s top venue. Its tournaments attract top local players and promising international competitors.
In 1841, New Zealand’s first horse racing event was held on flat land near Te Aro pā. Since 1906 Trentham racecourse, in Upper Hutt, has been the main racecourse. Today it is among the country’s finest tracks. The Wellington Cup, raced in late January, is the Wellington Racing Club’s best-known trophy.