As organisers get set for the 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames in March, the Star Observer was lucky enough to jump across the pond to take a sneak peak at the centre of the games action to bring you some hot travel tips when in Wellington.
From the summit of Mount Victoria on a sunny day, the picturesque Wellington may well be — as all the tour brochures trumpet — the best little capital in the world.
Those heading over to the New Zealand capital for the Outgames this year are in for a big treat.
The Wellington Outgames is the biggest queer sports event in the region this year. Competitor registrations for the event have already exceeded expectations — verging on the 1000 mark — while thousands more are expected to descend on the windy city for the eight-day GLBTI sports, culture and human rights event.
Outgames co-chair David Hindley said participants from across the globe will compete in the friendly games. You can expect to meet athletes from Japan, India, Nepal, Malaysia, the Philippines, Samoa, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
“We are really pleased with how things are going,” he told the Star Observer.
“Registrations are tracking very well, some sports [such as] dancesport, lawn bowls, running, swimming and tenpin bowling, are all well ahead of forecast.”
Hindley said women make up around 40 percent of registrations and after New Zealanders and Australians (who make up almost 50 percent of registrations), the third largest contingent will be competitors from the US.
While there is plenty going on during the games itself, it’s more than worth grabbing a map to check out what else this little city has to offer.
Perched on a natural harbour at the bottom of the north island, Wellington is a small but handsome capital. The city centre hugs the turquoise water of its stunning harbour, with suburbs spilling out across surrounding hills.
More importantly, for a city of almost 400,000, Wellington is renowned for its great coffee, exceptional food and happening nightlife. And best of all, the downtown area is commutable by foot.
For the literary inclined, a stroll around the harbour takes in the Wellington Writers Walk with sculptures and quotations about the city from well-known poets and writers, including the city’s most well-known wordsmith, Katherine Mansfield.
Well worth a visit — if nothing else for wonderful views of the harbour — is the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
In Maori ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’ means ‘container of treasures’ and the impressive modern building certainly houses some of the country’s most important historic relics.
Te Papa is also the new home of the only colossal squid specimen in the world, shown in all its glory in a giant glass tank.
There’s plenty to do wandering about the city itself, but a stop in at the city’s famous ‘eat street’ along Cuba St is a must. Think the Wellington version of Brunswick St in Melbourne or Newtown in Sydney.
Film lovers, particularly fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, will get a kick out of seeing where some of the magic happened. Despite recent skirmishes between The Hobbit filmmakers and the actors’ union, Wellington locals are justly proud of the local film industry and Wellington Sights offers the Wellington Rings Tour for fans to tour some of the sites where the films were shot.
As far as nightlife goes, Wellington has lots on offer. And there’s no dreary outdated gay bars here. The two main queer-friendly places in town are Scotty and Mal’s Cocktail Bar on the uber-cool Cuba St and Club Ivy.
Fixtures of the Wellington gay scene, S&M’s is owned by Scott and Malcolm who offer a welcoming place for thirsty queers.
The couple met at Mr Gay New Zealand in 1992 and have been together ever since and were married in Hawaii in 2003. They run a friendly bar with delicious cocktails and some of the country’s famous wines.
Club Ivy is a refreshingly modern gay haunt. Arty hipsters line the bar, and there are three levels to choose from.
During the Outgames a huge range of arts and cultural events will take place around the city as well as offical Outgames parties for men (URGE Black) and women (Velvet Club).
Whatever you’re into, the Wellington Outgames is shaping up to be a queer event to remember.
The 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames is on from March 12 – 29.
WELLINGTON – A QUICK GUIDE
Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city, and New Zealand’s capital city.
The city is home to the country’s famous Beehive Parliament House —rumoured to have been drawn on the back of a cigarette packet as a joke — and is arguably New Zealand’s ‘cultural capital’.
Wellington boasts a number of museums, theatres and arts festivals, including Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand), the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and the biennial Festival of the Arts. Home to the Weta Workshop (Lord of the Rings), the city is also the centre for New Zealand’s creative industries.
Population: About 460,000 people live in the Wellington region, which makes up 11.1 percent of New Zealand’s population.
Climate: The warmest month is February, with an average temperature of 21°C. The coldest month is July with an 11°C average, while the average daily maximum for March is 19°C.
City: Wellington is mostly built on reclaimed land. The original 1840 shoreline is now the main shopping street.
Education: Wellingtonians are better educated than the average New Zealander with 46.3 percent holding a post-school qualification, compared with 39.9 percent in the rest of the country.
Money: Incomes in Wellington city are well above New Zealand’s average, with over 40 percent of households earning $89,000 per annum.
Jobs: Property and business services provide the greatest number of jobs in Wellington, followed by government administration and defence.
Famous local: Writer Katherine Mansfield.
WELLINGTON – WE TRIED, WE LIKED
Check out the giant squid and plenty of other treasures at Te Papa Tongarewa.
Catch a show at the Circa Theatre, situated along the city’s stunning harbour.
Take a walk down the famous Cuba St for some top grub.
Get some culture at Wellington’s main art space, City Gallery.
Go on a Lord of the Rings Tour.
Take a picnic to the summit of Mount Victoria on a sunny day.
Sail on Wellington’s beautiful harbour.
Take a trip on Wellington’s famous cable car.
Wander along the Writers Walk and take in the city foreshore.
Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium – tasty tapas and a huge array of wine and beers. Find at 3 Swan Lane.
Fidels – chilled out and quality food. Find at 234 Cuba St.
S&M’s – relaxed gay and lesbian cocktail bar in the heart of Cuba St. Find at 176 Cuba St.
Club Ivy – Wellington’s only gay nightclub, offering three floors of fun. Find at 13 Dixon St.
Mighty, Mighty – kitsch and cool. Find at 104 Cuba St.
Bolton Hotel – spacious apartment-style room, right in the heart of town. Find at cnr Bolton and Mowbray Sts.
Andie Noonan travelled as a guest of Wellington Tourism.