Top 20 Things to See and Do in Wellington, New Zealand
Not all beautiful things are shiny or come in detailed, exotic packaging. The best of them come in the form of cities such as Wellington, New Zealand. While the New Zealand capital is small, it’s well known for beautiful views, coastal breezes, the arts, and culture.
If you’re wondering what to do in this exciting city, consider this the ultimate Wellington Travel Guide. Below, we list some activities you must do and things you must see while in New Zealand’s capital.
Have a look.
- Visit The Wellington Museum
Locals and tourists alike will tell you a visit to the Wellington Museum is one of the top things to indulge in while in the city. The museum is well-preserved in a historic building said to be one of the cities’ earliest department stores. It features film presentations and exhibits that reveal the cities’ astounding evolution and its maritime history.
- Spot Native Bird Life at the Zealandia Ecosanctuary
If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, a trip to the Zealandia Ecosanctuary could turn out to be one of the highlights of your trip. The sanctuary is home to NZ’s native wildlife, including endangered species like the Takahe, Saddleback, and the Stitchbird. If you take a guided night tour, you’re likely to see some of the 100 kiwis in the sanctuary.
- Explore Harbourside Market
Harbourside Market is the melting pot of Wellington’s favourite treats. Whether you’re craving dumplings, a chicken roti, German curry sausages, or fresh produce, the market has exactly what your soul needs.
- People Watch At the Waterfront
The waterfront is one of the best places to take a stroll as you watch other people walk by. When the heat catches up with you, walk up to one of the numerous ice-cream parlours along the way. There are multiple sculptures and secret poetry in the concrete to entertain you along the way.
- Visit the Cinema
There’s a reason why New Zealand’s capital is known as “Windy Wellington”. The weather can change fast, and when you wake up to a rainy day, you can keep yourself busy by checking out some of the cinemas open in the city. If you want to see the latest blockbusters, check out The Event Cinema on Kent Terrace.
- Let Your Inner Geek Out At the Weta Cave
Fans of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy will love this design studio. Not many people see this detailed side of the film industry, so consider yourself lucky if you get a chance to check out effects, costumes, and props for movies here.
- Feel-At-Home On Cuba Street
No well-meaning Wellington city guide would leave out the mention of Cuba Street. It’s Wellington’s most colourful street and home to vintage clothing stores, art galleries, and eccentric cafes. It is home to the quirky, the fun, the alternative, and everyone can fit right in.
- Get On the Wellington Cable Car
This exciting five-minute journey on Wellington’s cable car is one of the most relaxed and scenic journey’s you will ever make. It is also a great alternative to expending energy while getting burnout up from Lambton Quay. Avid photographers will enjoy the scenic panoramas of the city once they get to Kelburn Lookout.
- Checkout The Beehive
The Beehive, or the site of NZ’s parliament, is considered Wellington’s most archetypal building. It was built between 1964 -1979 and designed by Sir Basil Spence. There are free tours of the parliament buildings between 10 am and 4 pm daily while the gardens around the building are left open to the public.
- Take in Nature Wellington’s Botanical Garden
Right at the centre of Wellington lies 62 acres of exotic gardens for you to enjoy. You can see water features, enjoy a free gig during the summer, explore on a bushwalk or take in the views from the treehouse.
- Trek Up Mt. Kaukau
If you look at Wellington’s city skyline, the highest visible mountain you can catch a glimpse of is Mt. Kaukau. Naturally, any explorer will want to conquer the mountain and experience the incredible views that come with it. Take the Northern Walkway if you’re feeling super-fuelled or the shorter route from Simla Crescent or Woodmancote Road.
- Take A Walk to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine
The sight of an enormous wind turbine is, on its own, an excellent experience. But, add the views from the turbine’s location and you’ve got a breathtaking view of the city. You can get to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine via a bus, drive up, or walk.
- Watch The Seals At Red Rocks
The Red Rocks Walkway is only 40 minutes away from Wellington and is one of the most popular walks enjoyed by tourists and locals. You can see mind-boggling geographical features as you walk along the rugged coastline, seals, and one of the Lord of the Rings film locations.
- Enjoy The Sandy Beaches
New Zealand is blessed with numerous beaches, and Wellington has its fair share. Whether you want to dip your toes in the ocean, surf, or enjoy the warm weather, you won’t have to go far to find a beach you’ll fall in love with.
- Drink A Craft Beer
Wellington is very popular for its abundance in craft beers. Craft brewing beer was once the hobby of a few home brewers. However, over the years, it has become a staple of New Zealand’s capital. Plenty of brew pubs and breweries have sprung up in the last couple of years and with a variety to choose from, it can be intimidating to negotiate your way through the maze.
Thankfully, there are a couple of tours and a self-guided trail that are the perfect introduction to exquisite local brews. There’s also Beervana, the biggest event in the Country’s beer calendar that attracts nearly 15,000 people to Wellington.
The event offers drinkers a chance to meet brewers, learn about home brewing, watch as beer is brewed on-site, and enjoy selected beers with seasonal dishes.
- Lose Yourself Around the Wharf
There are plenty of pop-up markets, beautiful grassy patches, and bean bags around the wharf. There’s even a diving board if you’re brave enough to dive into the chilly ocean water.
- Visit the Museum of New Zealand “Te Papa”
There are numerous exhibits to explore at Te Papa Tongarewa or the Museum of New Zealand. It provides an eye-opening journey into the Maori culture through fine treasures and art collections. It also offers a glimpse at the history of European settlers and their contribution to the nation.
- Visit the Home and Garden of Katherine Mansfield
This house was once the home of Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand’s most celebrated author. The house she grew up in is now a museum of sorts holding 19th-century fixtures and furniture along with the writers’ personal belongings.
- Visit the City Gallery Wellington
City Gallery Wellington was first opened in 1980 and is now one of the country’s leading modern art spaces. It features different exhibitions throughout the year with displays from local, international, and renowned artists. Any art lover will appreciate the New Zealand Portrait Gallery that displays vital paintings by New Zealanders.
- Visit the Wellington Zoo
Famous for its conservation efforts, the Wellington Zoo is an excellent choice of places to visit if you’re tagging along your little ones for a Wellington vacation. You get the chance to see some of the country’s wildlife, such as the Kiwi bird up-close. There are also animals from all over the world, such as gibbons, monkeys, big cats, and giraffes.
Make sure you print out a travel size copy of our Wellington travel blog, so you don’t forget to visit and experience all the fantastic places we’ve listed above. Your travel Wellington experience should be as comfortable as possible, so be sure to pack something for the rain in case it decides to show up.