Hundreds of gay Aussies will descend on New Zealand’s capital city this coming March for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Outgames.
Wellington is a compact, flat centre which is very easy to explore on foot. Here’s our must-do picks for the witty little city which was recently named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities for visiting in 2011.
S&M’s cocktail lounge
Wellington’s warm and welcoming watering hole is located at 176 Cuba Street, the city’s off-beat cultural centre. Flattering lighting from Egyptian chandeliers set the mood, while gentle music plays and friendly staff mix your drinks. Downstairs is open on Friday and Saturday nights, with a DJ and a dancefloor area.
Welly’s only gay nightclub is busiest after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. Club Ivy is centrally located at 13 Dixon Street, the sizeable club frequently holds special events like fierce drag queen contests, Mr. Gay Wellington pageants, and camp shows. The main nightclub is on the top floor, but the middle floor is worth a look too, as a chilled-out space with smoking area.
It’s the best all-male hook-up site in Wellington. Located in the heart of the city, yet with a discreet entrance, Checkmate sauna provides men with a clean and safe environment to visit and enjoy the many facilities – and other guests – on offer. Find what you’re after at 15 Tory Street.
LGBT groups and events
This gay-friendly city has an array of queer groups and social activities happening regularly. There’s an annual LGBT film festival, same-sex dancing group, choir, student network, youth group, running team, swimming group, and business network. All the details on each of these groups are here on GayNZ.com.
One of nation’s cultural hubs, the amazing Te Papa museum of New Zealand is located on the edge of Wellington’s gorgeous harbour. The national museum features five floors of interactive exhibitions and display spaces, showcasing NZ’s fascinating natural resources, history, art and culture.
It’s all free, so take a good look around. We recommend the Earthquake house, and wild motion-master ride through Kiwi life and adventures. A recently-opening exhibition space on the top floor honours cultural change in the 20th century – including the struggle for gay rights. See Te Papa’s official website here.
This idyillic haven is home to many rare native flora and fauna. Run by the not-for-profit Karori Sanctuary Trust, Zealandia’s mission is to restore a corner of mainland New Zealand as closely as possible to the way it was ‘the day before humans arrived’.
The sanctuary comprises approximately one square mile of regenerating lowland forest and wetlands protected by a unique 8.6 km predator-proof fence, specially designed to exclude non-native mammals ranging from hedgehogs to possums. It is the most accessible of New Zealand’s celebrated mainland conservation islands and is a safe haven for many endangered native animals, including the tuatara, little spotted kiwi, saddleback, hihi and giant weta. Find out more here.
The stunning Lords of the Rings movies have seen thousands of people tour locations all over New Zealand to catch sight of hobbits in their natural environment. The Wellington Rings Tour is where you’ll find them.
Visitors can enjoy a tour of the city’s locales used in the Lord of the Rings movies, and then go behind the scenes of the films and check out a wide range of models to purchase from Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop. Discover it all.
Places to stay and eat
Locals recommend Wellington’s top hotels are the elegant and award-winning Museum Hotel on Cable Street and the swish Five Star Bolton Hotel on Bolton Street.
Welly has great some great dining too. We direct you to try lunch at Floriditas on Cuba Street and dinner at the Pravda Café down on Queens Wharf. We’re hearing great things about the pizzas at new spot Heaven on Cuba Street too.
Wellington’s Outgames – 12-19 March 2011
Hundreds of participants from over 15 countries are lined up for events including swimming, diving, running, tennis, squash, volleyball, badminton, field hockey, netball and softball at the 2nd AsiaPacific Outgames.
Football matches are now also confirmed for the sporting showcase, adding to a list which also includes dancesport, golf, lawn bowls, ten pin bowling, bridge and mountain biking.
Along with the sports, there’s loads of other entertainment to enjoy by day and by night.
The Outgames Human Rights Conference is attracting a variety of guest speakers from around the globe, and the very queer Queen of the Whole Universe beauty pageant is set to be a spectacular night of crazy camp fun.
The games themselves kick off with an opening ceremony on Saturday 12 March, after the annual LGBT Out in the Square picnic day right in the heart of the city. The Out Wellington team also welcome you to a hot Pool Party at Thorndon Summer Pool on Sunday 13 March.
The Outgames takes place in Wellington, New Zealand, 12–19 March 2011. You can still register on its official website.
Enjoy your stay in Wellington! Been there before? Let us know your city tips by leaving a comment below.
Athlete photo: Rhys, by Alex Efimov.