Wellington enjoys a year-round temperate climate, with temperatures rarely dipping below freezing during winter (June-August) although strong southerly winds can make it feel much colder. Summer (December-March) temperatures range from 18°C to 25°C (64°F–77°F), moderated by the city’s position on the south coast of North Island. Rainfall is heaviest in the winter months although rain is not unusual year round.
Wellington is home to the country's biggest cultural event, the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival (tel. 04/473-0149; www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz). It features international works and the best of New Zealand talent in everything from opera to jazz, dance to comedy. The next festival will be staged in February and March 2010. A major spinoff from the festival is the growth of the Wellington Fringe Festival (tel. 04/495-8015; www.fringe.org.nz), which is a completely separate event run at the same time. It's now an annual event celebrating offbeat productions and innovative art forms.
Summer City Festival (tel. 04/801-3500; www.wellington.govt.nz), staged during January and February each year, launches Wellington's events calendar with more than 70 free activities such as the Teddy Bears' Picnic, the Rock Barge Concert on Oriental Parade, a Pacific Islands Festival, and Summer Shakespeare in the Botanic Garden Dell. Montana World of Wearable Art (tel. 03/548-9299; www.worldofwearableart.com) is a theatrical costume spectacle not to be missed, now staged annually at the Events Centre Wellington in mid-September and early October. This 2-hour visual extravaganza attracts international entrants and sell-out audiences of over 22,000 -- not bad considering it started in Nelson in 1987 in a leaky tent with just 200 people watching. Montana Wellington International Jazz Festival (www.jazzfestival.co.nz) features a superb roster of national and international jazz musicians performing modern jazz through the classics (mid- to late Oct at various city locations).
Martinborough Country Fair (tel. 06/306-9043; www.martinboroughfair.org.nz) is a popular gathering of crafts artisans from around the country. Held the first Saturday in February and the first Saturday in March, it attracts about 30,000 visitors. Martinborough is about an hour's drive northeast of Wellington. Golden Shears (tel. 06/378-7373; www.goldenshears.co.nz) is a 3-day international shearing contest that includes wool handling and sheep and goat shearing. It's held in late February or early March in Masterton, 103km (64 miles) northeast of Wellington. In November, catch a special 50-minute festival train from Wellington to the Toast Martinborough Wine, Food & Music Festival (tel. 06/306-9183; www.toastmartinborough.co.nz). Shuttles run a continuous circuit within a 10km (6-mile) area of Martinborough's town square to Martinborough vineyards, where tastings take place with the winemakers.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.