Clustered around a picturesque harbour along the Kapiti Coast, Porirua forms part of the Wellington metropolitan area. In the late 19th century, it was home to one of New Zealand’s largest psychiatric hospitals and is now a departure point for cruises to the ecologically important Mana Island.
Things to do in Porirua
For a cultural fix, head to the Pataka Art + Museum, which originally opened in 1980 in the hamlet of Takapūwāhia. Browse the local history displays and the contemporary art exhibits that feature the works of Māori, Pacific and New Zealand artists. You can coincide your visit with a cultural performance or a community event, followed by a swim at the adjacent Te Rauparaha Arena and Aquatic Centre.
Sprawling east of Porirua is Belmont Regional Park, which encompasses native forest, rural farms and the 456-metre-high Belmont Trig. When it was created in 1986, it was the first park in New Zealand to combine areas for farming, conservation and recreation. You can stretch your legs on the half-day Puke Ariki Traverse, explore the park on horseback or take advantage of the mountain biking trails.
Just off the coast of Porirua is Mana Island, which can be seen from the scenic sands of Titahi Bay Beach. Join a guided boat trip to learn about the conservation history of the island, then hike to its top for panoramic views towards the South Island. Mana Island provides important habitat for Wellington greek geckos, yellow-crowned parakeet and flightless South Island takahē.
Getting around Porirua
Porirua is a 25-minute drive from the centre of Wellington and 35 minutes from Wellington International Airport, which has flights to destinations across New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. Regular trains connect from Wellington to the Porirua railway station and buses travel throughout the city.