WellingtonNZ spent the past 12 months working with organisations throughout the region to make Wellington wildly famous.

We worked across global storytelling, tourism, venue management, supporting and attracting events, facilitating business growth, attracting international students, workforce development, supporting major infrastructure projects and film permitting.

Read on for a taste of what we’ve been up to.

Watch WellingtonNZ CEO Lance Walker’s message

(to return to the report after viewing the message please click on top right cross)

Message from WellingtonNZ Chair

Tracey Bridges | Chair

Read the full letter here


Growing local businesses across the region

Supporting the success of Wellington’s wildly innovative people and companies is what gets us out of bed in the morning. As NZTE and Callaghan Innovation’s Regional Business Partner for the Wellington region, WellingtonNZ provides support for businesses looking to grow and innovate.

In the past year, WellingtonNZ provided hands on support to 472 businesses from a total of 786 businesses it had contact with from across the region:

$8.5m – the record value of Callaghan Innovation grants allocated for use on companies’ research and development

Across the region, we also supported:

  • The development and implementation of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy to maximise opportunities in the region
  • The Wairarapa and Kāpiti districts to receive funding for business initiatives through the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund
  • Business clinics in Hutt City and Kāpiti, in partnership with the respective Chambers of Commerce
  • Pop-Up Business Schools in Porirua and Kāpiti, in partnership with Pop-Up Business School Aotearoa, the respective District Councils and the Ministry of Social Development.
“It really is fair to say we wouldn't have gotten this far without WellingtonNZ’s help,”

- Vlatko Materić | CEO/CTO Hot Lime Labs

WellingtonNZ worked with Hot Lime to secure a Callaghan Innovation R&D grant. Hot Lime are developers of a system, currently in pilot, that proves they can generate clean CO2 for greenhouses at far greater rates than current CO2 supply options, with a higher crop yield to make agriculture most sustainable.

“WellingtonNZ has been an important business partner in Tourwriter’s business journey over the past 10 years. Whether it be assistance in recommending business capability building, developing connections in the broader Wellington community, or just general advice, we feel the broader WellingtonNZ team to be part of our success.”

- Glenn Campbell | CEO Tourwriter

Tourwriter creates software for the travel industry to help create itineraries faster than anyone else to convert more sales.

“Thanks to the support we’ve received from WellingtonNZ through the Capability Development Voucher scheme, we are confident we will attract more domestic and international clients and significantly boost revenue.”

- Janine Sudbury | Owner Sudbury Wedding & Events Venue

Sudbury – a 50-acre farm at Peka Peka, in the heart of the Kāpiti Coast, which runs luxury weddings with accommodation, corporate events, celebratory functions, team-building and unique leadership training courses using horses.

Unleashing entrepreneurs

Creative HQ had a bumper year helping accelerate innovation within start-ups, government and other enterprises.

33 Wellington start-ups were graduated through Creative HQ’s incubation programme

27 events were enjoyed by more than 300 participants in the inaugural Experience Week event series

Lightning Lab GovTech was held for the first time with 12 teams, including 4 local, 1 international and 7 central government agencies

$2.9m of services were delivered to corporate and government clients across start-up acceleration, incubation, and enterprise innovation through Venture Up, Lightning Labs for FinTech and GovTech.

20 nano degrees in Public Sector Innovation were awarded to a delegation from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam via Creative HQ.

“[Lightning Lab GovTech] is a once-in-a-career chance to truly make a difference.”

- Mark Gordon | Ministry of Social Development

Expanding minds globally is a Wellington thing

International students continue to be a valuable part of Wellington both economically and in the cultural diversity they bring. We created marketing campaigns to promote the region, provided a Kiwi welcome for new international students, hosted education agents and recognised those that have excelled through our Wellington International Student Excellence Awards.

An economic valuation report concluded that the international education industry contributed $450 million to the Wellington regional economy and supported 4,290 jobs.

The Best Mate or Mum Campaign asked would you bring your best friend or mum on a trip to check out Wellington study destinations? The campaign reached more than 7.9m potential students across Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. It generated 516,010 engagements resulting in 9,214 entries to the competition.

325 students and graduates were assisted into internships, work experience or work integrated learning programmes. Of these, 182 were through Summer of Tech and Summer of Biz programmes, with around 80% of these interns offered ongoing work by their employers.

86 students worked directly with industry on credit-earning work integrated learning projects as part of their respective courses.

WellingtonNZ hosted 13 domestic and international students as interns as an example of practising what we preach.

WellingtonNZ was the lead regional sponsor for the delivery of the Young Enterprise programme. More than 400 students from across the region took part in the programme which focuses on equipping young people to start and run a commercial business, and the development of key soft-skills in our rangatahi (youth) in preparation for Wellington’s evolving workforce.

As seen on screen

Wellington’s screen industry is already wildly famous both within New Zealand and around the globe. A new Wellington Screen Sector Report, the first to give a comprehensive overview of the local sector, was commissioned by WellingtonNZ. It showed the sector generated $3.5 billion in gross revenue from 2013 to 2017.

The pipeline of work for the year hit record highs with highlights including the filming of TV series Wellington Paranormal and House Hunters International, feature films Savage and Lowdown Dirty Criminals, the Te Matatini ki te Ao commercial and the Griff’s Kiwi Adventures (UK) and Beautiful Youth (China) travel shows.

580 film permits issued for filming across the region, a record number.

$18.1m – permitting value to the region


Daffodils, a bittersweet love story told with beautiful re-imaginings of iconic New Zealand songs, premiered at the Embassy theatre in February. The film was shot across the Wellington region in early 2018.

“The quality of the infrastructure in Wellington is world class, whether it’s post-production facilities, studios or equipment.”

- David Stubbs | Director Daffodils

Two-in-one new infrastructure development

Designs were finalised and WellingtonNZ started taking enquiries for the new Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre which is due to open early 2023. It will create a meeting place to host conference and other business events, and a new exhibition space where international and local exhibitions of scale will provide people with entertaining and inspiring content currently unable to be hosted, or developed, in Wellington.

Cruise ship season

Wellington enjoyed a record cruise season with 110 ship visits bringing in more than 300,000 visitors, including 222,448 passengers with the rest made up of crew. This number was an increase of 37%, pumping an estimated $56 million into the local economy.

Travel agents

More than 2,400 international travel agents were hosted in Wellington or trained via market visits and webinars on what the Wellington region has to offer as a destination.

"I am so enthused for your city - so much more than I expected... I intend to focus all training during this week's sales meetings purely on Wellington & the surrounding region. Why have I not been to your region before (I have really failed you) - I am sorry! Yes - I will be back!"

- Paul Watkins | About Australia

Team Wellington and China

The new Team Wellington partnership with Te Papa, KiwiRail, Weta Studio Tours and Wellington International Airport will grow the number of visitors from China and South-East Asia along with Wellington’s traditional markets of Australia, USA and the United Kingdom. Team Wellington activity for the year included a significantly upweighted travel trade programme for China with 430-plus agents trained. We also ran local Alipay seminars to get more local businesses Chinese-ready.

19% growth in Chinese visitor spend in the Wellington region, from $54m in 2018 to $64m in the year to June 2019.

Find Your Wild

Branded ‘Find your Wild’, the Regional Trails Framework and new WellingtonRegionalTrails.com website was launched in November, promoting the region’s best trails in one easy-to-use place. The number of people visiting the website to discover the region’s network of walking, running, cycling and horse-riding trails continues to grow.

Our Business Events Wellington team worked with more than 30 organisations throughout the region to secure conferences and other business events. Of particular note is the collaboration between Tourism New Zealand, Business Events Wellington and Victoria University of Wellington to attract academic conferences to Wellington. This work is starting to pay off, with seven academic events secured for Victoria University in the FY18/19 financial year and more positive announcements to come in the new financial year.

$19.3 million Value of international business events secured by Business Events Wellington

37 conferences won

Top 5 conference bids won

WorldCon – World Science Fiction Congress 2020 with 2000 delegates

Asia Pacific Oral Health Conference 2023 with 800 delegates

New Zealand Game Developers Association Conference 2019 with 700 delegates

Institute of Professional Editors 2022 with 400 delegates

International Crustacean Congress 2022 with 200 delegates

Shining like a destination diamond

22 - marketing campaigns

1,101 - WellingtonNZ generated media articles

2.5m - visitors on WellingtonNZ.com and other sites

504,070 - followers across our social media channels and digital newsletters

Welcome to WellTown

WellingtonNZ transformed the Capital into the first city in the world able to be played as a virtual reality game, called WellTown, with the ability to delve deeper into some of Wellington’s attractions, workplaces and education institutions: Victoria University, Xero, the Treaty of Waitangi at He Tohu, Weta Studio Tours, Te Papa, Westpac Stadium and Te Auaha: Institute of Creativity.

The project, in collaboration with Wrestler and Mixt, generated close to 100 media stories around the globe. WellTown is a finalist in the 2019 TVNZ NZ Marketing Awards. It has been downloaded 15,000 times on the Steam and Oculus VR stores and continues to be used at events to promote Wellington.

“Wellington … is a city known for its booming tech industry. It makes sense then that Welly would put its best technological foot forward when looking to court potential tourism.”

- The AU Review

The Wellington Effect

WellingtonNZ’s winter tourism campaign – The Wellington Effect – suggested a short break in the Capital may be so transformative it would reverse the ageing process. The campaign storyline follows a couple as they enjoy a magical weekend in Wellington where they fall in love all over again, getting progressively younger in the process as they experience the Wellington Effect. It has proven one of our top performing campaigns of recent years, reaching 480,000 people on TV alone.

Terracotta Warriors

The Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality exhibition at Te Papa’s Toi Art gallery, which ran from 15 December 2018 to 22 April 2019, attracted nearly 200,000 people – making it one of Te Papa’s most successful-ever paid exhibitions. WellingtonNZ worked with Te Papa to develop and manage the marketing of the exhibition.

This included sourcing and securing the Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors outdoor exhibition, which were on display outside Te Papa’s main entrance.

A new digital home for the Hutt Valley

We worked with the teams at Hutt City Council and Upper Hutt City Council to create HuttValleyNZ.com; a one stop shop for where to eat, drink, stay, shop, be entertained and attend or host an event in the Hutt.


Making the news

Wellington is full of fascinating stories and WellingtonNZ knows how to find journalists to write them, film them, and broadcast them.

63 – media hosted in Wellington

910 – Travel stories in the Australasian media

52m – audience reach of Australasian media coverage

$4.6m – value of Australian media coverage

191 – WellingtonNZ generated media articles in NZ and Australia media promoting the region as a great place to work, do business and invest

Wellington the place for creatively curious Aussies

To encourage Autumn shoulder season visitation from Australia we ran a media partnership with Bauer Media across digital and print platforms including Gourmet Traveller, Harpers Bazaar, Australian Women's Weekly and Elle. Fronted by well-known Sydney stylist Brooke Testoni, the content fueled creative curiosity and promoted Wellington as the perfect short break, through an influential Australian perspective.

Strong brand alignment with key titles resulted in editorial content being seamlessly integrated with 7,969,945 total campaign touchpoints across print and digital. The campaign contributed to an uplift of 26% YOY in Australia visitor spend in the Wellington region for the April / May travel period.

Wild events

Wellington is known for its vibrant events calendar and this year didn’t disappoint, from a sold-out Eminem gig and Te Matatini ki te Ao at Westpac Stadium to the annual crowd pleaser WOW, which celebrated its 30th anniversary, and unique, immersive and new Second Unit film-set experience, there was plenty to excite.

$93m – estimated economic impact from major events in the Wellington region

Sold out major events: Eminem, Jim Beam Homegrown, Beervana, and the All Blacks v South Africa Test Match

22:1 return on investment for major events in Wellington


The wait was finally over when Eminem graced Wellington with an exclusive live performance at Westpac Stadium in March. A record Westpac Stadium crowd of 46,474 fans gathered for this one-off New Zealand event which received rave reviews.

An eventful year for Venues Wellington

The city’s civic venues had an excellent year, despite the closure of key performance venues for strengthening and refurbishment, with sold-out shows and a multitude of conference events.

Performance Events

212 - Number of performance events in our venues

353,804 - Total Audience

49,300 - Total out-of-region audience

Sold out performances: Tash Sultana, Bill Bailey, Silver Ferns v Australian Diamonds netball, Shihad, David Byrne, The Catherine Tate Show, Nick Cave, An Evening of Talk and Music, Sarah Millican, Eddie Izzard, Bryan Ferry, Bryan Adams, Rob Brydon, Boyzone, Tim Minchin, Danny Bhoy, Joe Lycett, Cats and Colin, Brad and Greg from Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Venues hosts were provided with colourful new uniforms inspired by and featuring some of the city’s great icons such as Cuba Mall’s Bucket Fountain and the Pyramid sculpture. The project was kept as local as possible with nearly all aspects of the uniforms being designed and made by Wellington-based companies.

Designed in Wellington by Twenty-seven names, the pattern for the shirts was made by Sharon Bird at Red Tulip Design on Vivian St, and all shirts were cut in Morrinsville by Pattern Potentials.

The garments were then assembled with the help of Iona Woolgrove at Umsiko and her ‘outworkers’ – a collection of women who work from their own homes. Casual uniforms were sourced from sustainable, Fair Trade and ethical clothing manufacturer Little Yellow Bird.

Conference Events

207 – Conference events held in our venues

230,514 – Total conference delegates (Venues Wellington)

19,011 – Total out-of-region conference delegates

West Side to Wellington

WellingtonNZ rolled out the red carpet for the New Zealand exclusive season of West Side Story at The Opera House, 6-16 June. This was a partnership between Venues Wellington and the show's producers GWB Australia. Thousands of locals and out-of-towners saw the award-winning show – known as one of the greatest musicals of all time.

Wild about our people

This year WellingtonNZ introduced a new set of organisational values as part of a wider focus on our people and culture. Other initiatives included the introduction of updated wellbeing and flexibility policies.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

WellingtonNZ believes that a commitment to being a sustainably responsible business is essential to our goal of making the Wellington region Wildly Famous. This year we committed to the Tourism Industry Aotearoa Sustainability pledge. We developed our own Sustainability Policy, started a replacement programme for all the lights in our venues to LED, reduced our printing and recycled most of our old equipment. We continue to support local produce and beverages and other sustainable business practices.

Financial Statements and Statement of Service Performance

Linked statements here