Enjoy 360-degree views from the top of Mount Victoria
Frolic between the pine and monterey cypress trees on a hike or mountain bike excursion around Mount Victoria, or stick to its residential slopes and admire brightly coloured traditional cottages, found along streets like Porritt Avenue. Standing at 196-metres high beside Oriental Bay, this mountain is a prominent and omissible feature of the city. Twice used as a location for the filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy, this is also a must-visit for movie buffs.
Ride the historic Wellington Cable Car
The funicular railway of Wellington has become an icon of the city, which first opened to the public over a century ago, in February of 1902. Ascending some 120 metres above the city to the hill suburb of Kelburn, taking a ride offers impressive views over the harbour and city. Putting along at a casual 18 kilometres per hour, this is one of the more leisurely things to do in Wellington and an easy way to see new parts of the city.
Take a wander around the waterfront to Oriental Bay
Squawking seagulls, pastel blue boat-sheds, and a white sand beach make Oriental Bay a beloved part of the city of Wellington. Impressive houses and apartments rise around the bay’s tree covered hills, offering a picturesque backdrop to the crystal waters. Spend a day admiring sailing boats and devouring fish and chips at the Boat Cafe near Clyde Quay Wharf, or just flop on a towel and enjoy numerous swims in the calm waters on offer.
Have a Close Encounter at Wellington Zoo
13-hectares of luscious lands make up the famous Wellington Zoo, which first opened its gates in 1906, making it the first Zoo in New Zealand. Highly regarded for its conservation efforts and breeding of endangered beauties like the Sumatran tiger and sun bear, a visit here means more than just a day admiring animals. A day at Wellington Zoo is also the chance to get up close with the country’s national animal; the zoo’s unofficial mascot is an adorable one-legged kiwi called Tahi.
Travel back in time at the Zealandia sanctuary in Karori
Over 225 acres of biodiverse forests await nature-loving travellers in Karori’s Zealandia sanctuary. Located just 15-minutes drive from the city this eco-utopia should be high on your list of what to do in Wellington, with at least one day dedicated to exploring the bird-filled valley and lower reservoir of the park. You need not be David Attenborough to spot wildlife in this sanctuary, the walking tracks abound in frogs, lizards, birds and insects.
Things to do in Wellington
Wellington Cup Day
Wellington transforms into a lively, dapper city each January when the carnival of Wellington Cup is held. Though many days of the month draw a crowd to Trentham Racecourse, the climax is undoubtedly Wellington Cup Day, which inspires the whole city to dive into a celebratory mood in the name of horse racing.
Greater Wellington Brew Day
Venture to Wellington in February and you may find yourself attending the Greater Wellington Brew Day, a celebration of artisan beers, wines, ciders and spirits that call the city home. Over 20 crafters set up a stall here at Trentham Racecourse for the day, along with an incredible food offering with the likes of a taco truck and Jamaican chicken jerk. All teamed with live music and entertainment to a picnic like setting.
New Zealand Festival
Uniting artists and audiences since 1986, the New Zealand Festival is a near month long celebration of art, culture and creativity. A biennial festival, this is a hard one to catch, but if you manage you’ll be rewarded by a unique look into this deeply inspiring city and country.
Cuba Street - the city’s creative and spirited arena - shuts down and transforms into a magical playground of festivities and excitement for the annual CubaDupa festival, held over one weekend in late March. Expect performance artists, dancers, and spectacular costumes, in a grassroots event that blurs the line between those performing and those watching.
Jim Beam Homegrown
If uncovering the most celebrated indie, electronic, dub, and rock music acts in New Zealand sounds like your cup of tea (or Jim Beam, as the case may be) then nab a ticket to Homegrown festival. Held in March each year since 2008 on the Wellington Waterfront, this Wellington festival draws in a huge local crowd as well as plenty of gung-ho travellers.
Top 5 Festivals in Wellington
Beer, music, horse racing, and arts - there’s a Wellington festival to suit all kinds of travellers. Whichever you can time your trip with you’re in for a treat. The good-time spirit of New Zealanders can been seen in full force during these events.
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Translating from Maori to ‘container of treasures,’ Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Wellington Museum is indeed a chest of gems that needs to be visited when in the city. Gaze through exhibitions dedicated to pacific cultures, natural history, and beyond, featuring everything from 16th century dresses to the preserved body of a colossal squid.
Space Place at Carter Observatory
Cast your eyes in a different direction at Space Place at Carter Observatory, where the skies come to brilliant clarity from the height of Wellington’s Botanical Gardens. Here you can walk through interactive galleries, watch shows from a full-dome planetarium, and even adopt a southern star of your very own.
Cable Car Museum
Of the many reasons Wellington gets compared to San Francisco, its hilly streets and cable cars are most pronounced. At Wellington’s Cable Car Museum you can admire the antique carts that transported people around the city between 1902 and 1978. You can even dress up in vintage clothes and pose for a time-warped photo beside them.
Nairn Street Cottage
Step inside the white picket fence of Nairn Street Cottage for an intimate look at life in New Zealand in early colonial days gone by. Built in 1858 it is thought to be the oldest house in the city, allowing visitors to admire dated candle making and clothes washing techniques, as well as a garden of native plants, vegetables, and a chicken coop.
The Weta Cave
Lord of the Rings, The hobbit, and Star Wars are just some of the iconic films celebrated at The Weta Cave in Wellington. The free to enter museum is operated by the country’s masters of film physical effects, and offers visitors the chance to admire sculptures, props, artefacts, and most importantly, the New Zealand film industry.
Top 5 Museums and Galleries in Wellington
Standing in admiration of outer space and sifting through a treasure chest of ancient jewellery are just some of the incredible moments to be found in visiting Wellington’s museums. If planets and pearls aren’t your thing venture to the Cable Car Museum and Nairn Street Cottage, you’ll glimpse the cuteness of decades gone by in NZ.
Rumour has it there’s a town in New Zealand with a Maori name that translates to ‘eat crayfish’, that’s how deep the love is here for the lobster-like crustacean. You’ll find it best served from the decadent kitchen of Capitol Restaurant, served with lemon potato salad & crispy paua.
Best eaten at Capitol Restaurant, 10 Kent Terrace, Mt. Victoria, Wellington 6011
Move over tasteless patty of beef, at Burger Liquor you’ve been replaced by the likes of free-range buttermilk chicken and seasoned market fish. The burger industry is serious business in NZ, even the sides are glamourised - think Punjabi poutine and summer slaw with grilled halloumi.
Best eaten at Burger Liquor, 129 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011
Mince & cheese pie
A classic New Zealand dish adored by carnivores, the heavily indulgent mince and cheese pie is a must try in this country. Patrisha’s Pies are known to make some of the most authentic in Wellington, best doused in tomato sauce and eaten without cutlery or regard for mess.
Best eaten at Patrisha’s Pies, 298 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington 6023
When rolled oats, brown sugar, golden syrup and coconut come together with a few household staples, the traditional ANZAC cookie can be baked to perfection. Originally sent from Australian and New Zealand women to soldiers during World War I, these historic chewy biscuits can be found in any supermarket.
Best eaten at any supermarket in Wellington
Food in Wellington
Juicy beef burgers. Meat and cheese pies. Honeycomb ice-cream and ANZAC cookies. You may need a few new notches on your belt after a tour through Wellington’s favourite traditional foods.