Wellington Today

Students perform in Civic Square

We are a city of 195,500 people and counting. 

Wellington has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past 30 years.  Today, Wellington can boast a superior quality of life to many advanced cities.  Wellington is well positioned demographically with an educated population, a low dependency ratio (dependants versus working age), and a relatively high labour participation rate. 

We have built a reputation as the nation’s cultural and events capital.  We have invested in our city foundations - the infrastructure and amenities on which the city is built.  And the city has had some notable successes in the creative industries and businesses that call Wellington home. 

Wellington’s people are…

Well educated

  • Wellington has the highest percentage of residents with a bachelor degree (Level 7) or higher qualification - 33% compared to the New Zealand average of 14%.

Relatively prosperous

  • Wellington has a high proportion of residents earning $50,000 or over (28%).  This compares to a New Zealand average of 16%.

Diverse and cosmopolitan

  • More than 20% of Wellingtonians speak a language other than English – the most common being French, Māori, Samoan, German and Yue.
  • More than 20% of Wellingtonians were born outside New Zealand.
  • The city has significant populations of Māori, and people of Asian and Pacific descent, as well as smaller populations from Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
  • Wellington has a high proportion of working age people and is ‘younger’ than many cities, though our population is expected to age in coming decades.

Welcoming and open

  • 80% of Wellingtonians think that having more people of different cultural backgrounds makes Wellington a better place, the highest percentage of any city in New Zealand.


  • The vast majority of Wellingtonians (86%) feel a sense of trust in others, and feel that people in the city work together and people support each other, also the highest of any city in New Zealand.

Environmentally conscious

  • 82 percent of Wellingtonians are committed to changing their behaviour to prevent global warming


  • 94% of Wellingtonians rate their quality of life as good or very good.

Wellington is…

Shaped by nature

  • Wellington’s landscape and urban form are shaped by the hills and coast. We have a small amount of land on which to build.  This makes the city compact and gives it a distinct central city ‘heart’.  This is great for our sense of community and identity as Wellingtonians, and it also gives us an environmental head start.

Surrounded by open space

  • Of the 290 square kilometres of land area in Wellington city, 40 square kilometres is protected as Town Belt or reserve land.  This makes Wellington one of the greenest cities in New Zealand, and one of the greenest capital cities in the world.

Pedestrian, bus and cycle friendly

  • Wellington has the highest rate of people of any city in New Zealand who commute by public transport (17%) or walk, run or cycle to work (17%).  The proportion of central city residents who use public transport, or walk or cycle to get to work is even higher, at 65%.
  • Wellingtonians own fewer motor vehicles on average (1.3 per household) than people in the rest of New Zealand (average 1.6).

Creative and innovative

  • Wellington’s successes at film-making and digital post-production are known and celebrated around the world.  But our creativity also shines through in other business sectors, such as visitor experiences and event-based tourism.  These successes are made possible because the city is built on a culture of creativity and expression.
  • The creativity and can-do attitude of its business leaders has led to some significant successes in innovation – ranging from the design-led and sustainability-based successes of companies such as Icebreaker and Formway Furniture to the online business and cultural phenomenon that is TradeMe.

A knowledge centre

  • Wellington is disproportionately well represented in “knowledge intensive” activity both in the public and private sectors:
  • More than half (51%) of all Wellington city workers are in knowledge industries, the highest concentration of any city in the country.
  • Wellington city boasts the highest proportion of its workforce employed in the private knowledge intensive sector of any New Zealand city at 26%. 
  • As well as being the home of government, the Wellington region is home to two universities, three Crown Research Institutes, and many of the country’s leading knowledge institutions such as the National Library and Te Papa.

Economically important

  • Wellington’s strength in the creative and knowledge sectors collectively contribute to Wellington City’s place as the engine of the regional economy – the central city alone generates 52% of regional GDP.