New Zealand is particularly suited to nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts. Sailing, swimming and surfing are popular on the smaller North Island, where you’ll find the capital city of Wellington.
Wellington’s geographical position was the major deciding factor in the transfer of the seat of government from Auckland in 1865. But Wellington isn’t just the political capital — it’s the cultural capital as well. It has a sophisticated and stylish population that rivals that of any major city. It’s also known for its outlandish art galleries and its outstanding restaurants.
The gay community is part of the social fabric here. Sexual orientation and diversity pays particular attention to traditional Maori norms. With the resurgence of interest in early history a Maori name originally for North Island, Aotearoa, is now widely used for the whole country, and seen in the names of national organizations such as Uniq Aotearoa, the association of queer student groups.
Takatāpui, (intimate partner of the same sex), relationships between men had been a familiar part of life before the arrival of the Europeans. In 1840, when New Zealand became a colony, British law made sex between men illegal. In 1986 gay sex was decriminalised, members of parliament are now openly gay, and relationships can be legally recognised in civil unions.
Out in the Square each January is a day of onstage entertainment with talented local singers, drag queens and kings, comedians, and circus performers, plus food vendors and community organizations.
The compact Wellington International Airport is about 5 miles from the city. A taxi will take you to your hotel in no time flat.
The Airport Flyer express bus service runs from the airport to Wellington center, every 15 minutes, every day, with last departure at 9:30pm.
This is an incredibly walkable city, with pedestrian-only streets everywhere. Rent a car only if you are exploring the countryside or headed to the beach -- this is a left-side of the road driving country. Wellington public transportation includes buses, trains and ferries - for information see Metlink
What to do
One of the must-see sights is Te Papa Tongarewa, known in English as the Museum of New Zealand. It tells the history of the island, its diverse peoples, and the historic connections to other Pacific islands, all the way to Hawaii.
Currency and Money
The local currency is the New Zealand dollar, known colloquially as the kiwi because there’s an image of the bird on the coins. ATMs are easy to find in the downtown area.
The gay magazine Express has a news and cultural coverage. Gay NZ has up-to-date listings of gay bars, shops, accommodations, and events all over New Zealand. Rainbow Wellington has information about local events. The guys at the popular Aaron & Andy blog decided to close it down in August 2012, but archives can be seen for a short time.
Te Ara is building a comprehensive guide to the peoples, natural environment, history, culture economy and society of these islands.
Most of the gay-popular clubs and restaurants are in the central Te Aro district by the harbor.
Club Ivy (13 Dixon Street), Wellington's only gay disco, Wednesday through Saturday, wet unerwear contests & special parties.
Emperor's After Five Bar (5 Wigan St), Friday and Saturday men-only bar at the bathhouse, events, performances.
Fringe Bar (195 Cuba St), mixed karaoke & comedy club.
Hawthorn Lounge (82 Tory St), mixed gay-friendly upscale bar
Mighty Mighty (104 Cuba St), mixed alternative bar, live music, plays, book launches, dance and other performances.
Motel Bar (4 Forresters Lane), quality cocktails, upscale bar, meals and snacks.
S&M's (176 Cuba St), plush, mixed cocktail bar and lounge, basement dance club.
Checkmate (15 Tory St), open every day at city center, sauna, Jacuzzi, dark room cruising, glory holes, men of all ages and size.
Emperor's Bathhouse (5 Wigan St), new downtown facility, safe and exclusively gay, team and infrared saunas, spa, massage, fantasy rooms, cruise area, maze, private retreats, rooms, pool table, bar, facials, and massage.
See locations and websites of the above businesses, plus some hotel and restaurant options, at the map & listings tab.
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