The upgraded Wellington i-SITE - the front door to the region - is welcoming visitors again after 12 weeks of being remodelled.
Located at the bottom of Cuba Street in front of the Michael Fowler Centre, the WellingtonNZ-managed i-SITE moved to its current location, after its previous space in Civic Square was compromised by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.
What was a pokey interior has been transformed with people now able to discover the gems Wellington has to offer in a public space reconfigured to four times its previous size.
Designed by Studio Pacific Architecture and Homegrown Creative, it will provide a unique, streamlined Wellington experience for visitors, and locals looking to buy event tickets.
WellingtonNZ General Manager David Perks says the i-SITE welcomes an estimated 350,000 people each year as they look to make the most of their Wellington stay, or book tickets to local events.
"We have pulled out the stops to ensure the new i-SITE helps tell the Wellington story in an exciting, accessible way.
"The entire visitor experience at the i-SITE will be far better than anything we’ve offered before. The aim is to inspire people to find and do great things in Wellington, to entice them to stay longer or plan a return visit."
Central to the i-SITE’s Wellington flavour is a mural by local artist Xoë Hall which pays tribute to the Maori Legend of Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour) and the two Taniwha, Ngake and Whātaitai who called the harbour their home.
Weta Workshop’s life-sized Gandalf model - or selfie-bait - missing from the i-SITE since 2016 has also made a return.
Previously, the i-SITE only sold Wellington postcards and stamps. That range has been boosted with the inclusion of t-shirts, tea towels, chocolate, socks, cardboard models of Wellington icons, the Wellington in your Pocket guidebook, tote bags, greeting cards, notebooks and pens. Products are largely designed and made in Wellington.
Visitor registration technology means those looking for tourist information and event tickets are separated and dealt with at the appropriate station. Instead of waiting in a queue, they can wander about looking for great Wellington things explore in an i-SITE organised thematically - Find Your Wild (nature), Eat Your Heart Out (dining), Spark Your Creativity, Take A Day Trip, Stay With Us (accommodation) and Find Your Way (transport and maps).
The i-SITE has been operating to a limited capacity out of temporary accommodation on Manners St for the past three months. Mr Perks says this, coupled with the unexpected move to the current i-SITE location in 2016, created challenges.
"The i-SITE staff have done a magnificent job in trying circumstances over the past three years and I know they’re eagerly anticipating the opening of the new, improved facility."