New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and we’re fortunate to have a multitude of options for cosplay photo settings in and around Wellington.
While Wellington Cosplay Photo Fest is unable to provide transport during the event, here are just a few options for you to consider when arranging your shoots. All driving times are estimates only, and are from the CBD outwards.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and some venues may incur hire fees – this is up to individuals to arrange if they wish to shoot there.
Botanic Gardens – an oldie but a goodie, the gardens are publicly accessible and free of charge. The gardens are large, and feature a number of styles including modern sculpture, rose gardens, the herb garden reminiscent of an old English garden, and the very small Japanese styled peace garden.
Bolton Cemetery – located in the Wellington CBD, the cemetery was moved during construction of the Wellington Urban Motorway in the 70s with all bodies disinterred and moved to a mass grave under what is now a memorial lawn. The headstones themselves were moved around the hillsides on both sides of the motorway, so this location is an ideal setting to take advantage of the historic site without the common issues around respect and remembrance in active graveyards.
Central Park – a small park at the bottom of the Brooklyn hill in Te Aro, this spot features iron streetlamps and a stone fountain alongside your typical parky lawns and shrubbery. Not particularly safe after dark, be careful!
Old St Pauls – this small Gothic styled church is available for hire. Please contact the church society directly to book if you would like to shoot here, as the venue is commonly used for both weddings and funerals and advance notice is needed.
Town Belt – accessible throughout multiple locations in central and suburban Wellington, the Town Belt is an excellent (though often very steeply sloped) choice for forest settings or grassy meadows.
Graffiti Alley – multiple areas off Courtenay Place are covered in colourful graffiti and street art, and are accessible to the public. We advise caution after dark, and always keep a look-out watching gear when shooting in back alleys.
Parliament Buildings – technically public, you may still be questioned by security so it’s wise to contact ahead of time to confirm. Generally if you’re behaving there’s no problem and local photographers are seldom bothered, however be sensible…don’t bring guns. The parliamentary library and general grounds are also very attractive locations, and offer a range of photo backdrops in a fairly small area.
5-10 min Drive
Truby King Mausoleum – the site of the Truby King mausoleum in Melrose is very small and parking can be difficult. The brickwork and winding pathways are very picturesque, and the location on the Town Belt also gives access to dirt tracks and pine forest.
Trelissick Park – the site of a failed bank heist in days of old, the remnants of the stone walled buildings still stand in the bottom of the valley. This site is small, and due to its location often sheltered from direct sun throughout the day. Access is grass and gravel and muddy in wet weather.
Brooklyn Bunkers – located on the road up towards the Brooklyn wind turbine, it’s best to park on the street and walk up. The gates are locked before sundown, check the signposts for exact timing! The bunkers are usually covered in graffiti and you’ll need to brace for strong winds. There are also walking tracks through the bush, making it a fairly versatile spot.
10-20 min Drive
Karori Cemetery – located on the Wilton side of Karori, the cemetery is enormous and sprawling, and driving is advised – it’s far too big to cover on foot. The Karori Cemetery Trust have advised in the past that photography is no problem, provided that no headstones or mausoleums are identifiable. If in doubt please contact the Trust directly.
Owhiro Bay/Taputeranga Reserve – Owhiro Bay marks the westernmost end of the Wellington Coastline accessible by car, however it is possible to drive further in off-road vehicles to Red Rocks. The cliffs here are rugged and barren, and the shore is rock rather than sand. There is no shelter here from the elements, so pay close attention to weather conditions and be prepared to battle strong wind coming off Cook Strait.
Southwestern Coastline – from Owhiro Bay in the west all the way around to Seatoun and Breaker Bay further east, the coast is rugged and rocky with occasional patches of sandy beach. Note that in summer there is a lot of pedestrian traffic all around the coast, and beaches are very popular with locals – in costume you will draw a crowd, so be prepared!
Wrights Hill Fortress – a WWII bunker partially restored and available for private hire. The ambient temperature 12 meters below ground is surprisingly constant, though please be aware it’s quite easy to get lost inside! Fees will apply, contact the venue directly to book.
Percy Scenic Reserve (Lower Hutt) – NZ Native bush, walking tracks, waterfall, creeks. Parking available. Walking distance of Petone Station.
20-30 min Drive
Massey Memorial – another grand final resting place on a hill overlooking the city and sea, the Massey memorial is a classical monument open to the public and popular with local photographers and photo students. Parking is scarce on the coast, and there’s a short steep walk up the hill to the monument.
Rivendell – as the name suggests, this is one of many filming locations for the Lord of the Rings films in the Wellington Region. Rivendell is a spot on the Hutt river featuring a rocky shore, native forest, and an Elven archway. Parking is not bad, however this is a very popular swimming and camping spot in summer so bear this in mind when organising shoots.
Hutt River – there are many spots along the Hutt River where you can pull off the motorway and get to the water or areas along the banks; it’s worth having a drive and seeing where you end up. Bear in mind most easily accessible areas are popular with dog walkers and joggers, so it’s best not to expect complete privacy.
Horokiwi Road – please note that this road is very steep, very windy, and single-lane for the most part! Not the easiest location to get to.