While you’re here, you won’t want to miss –
Just ask the stars who delight in being on location in and around Wellington. Along with other international visitors to New Zealand’s capital city, model Miranda Kerr and husband Orlando Bloom delight in Wellington’s charm.
You’ll find a wealth of things to do in Wellington. It’s a small capital city with a huge heart, the home of the fascinating New Zealand museum, Te Papa; Peter Jackson’s film studios; a thriving and bewildering variety of bars, bistros & cafes; and more nature in the raw then you’ll find anywhere else in a day.
The city’s not called “Windy Welly” for nothing: as the only capital city located in the “Roaring Forties” – the Southern Hemisphere’s wild westerly winds – it does its best to live up to its nickname. But no matter whether the wind is blowing your brolly – Kiwi slang for an umbrella – inside out or you’re baking in sunshine, Wellington’s abundant charms have something for everyone.
Because of its compact nature, Wellington packs more into a square mile than most places.
Take a ride in the historic Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens to see how the houses – from Victorian villas to ultra-modern eco-homes – fold into the surrounding hills and perch on the bluffs. The Mount Victoria Lookout gives another perspective on the challenging nature of the terrain with a panoramic view of the Cook Strait ferries on their way to and from the South Island.
For those who prefer their nature in reality, visit ZEALANDIA, home to some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife. This unique lakeside sanctuary is just minutes from downtown Wellington, but in natural terms it’s a lifetime away.
You can see tuatara (a survivor from the dinosaur age), takahe (at 250 strong, one of the world’s rarest birds), kiwi, and other bird and lizard species you won’t see anywhere else – all in a protected area lovingly designed to recreate the environment as it was before the earliest human settlers.
A boat trip to Matiu (Somes) Island in the harbor for a guided wander through the regenerating bush amidst native plant and bird life will reveal the island’s varied history, from early Maori occupancy, to wartime internment camp and quarantine station.
Great Eats & Drink
If you love to shop, head over to colorful Cuba Street, a registered historic area with exciting boutiques and great coffee. Try Flordita’s, Fidel’s or Arthur’s for freshly-prepared food, or one of the many ethnic holes in the wall. For lovers of retro and vintage clothing, visit Hunters & Collectors, Ziggurat or PaperBag Princess.
For its size Wellington has a huge number of bars and restaurants – no matter what your preference, there will be somewhere for you to relax and people-watch while you sip a freshly roasted coffee.
Even beer aficionados are not forgotten – you can enjoy a trail of specialist brew bars around the city. Wrap up the day by relaxing over a great meal at an award-winning restaurant such as Logan Brown or the White House Restaurant.
Sports and activity lovers who want to try something a little more physical will enjoy kayaking around the waterfront. Mountain bikers can visit the Makara Peak mountain biking park, with its network of purpose-built mountain bike trails for all levels of ability.
Further away from the city, there are challenging trails in the Hutt Valley and in Porirua which are guaranteed to get riders’ hearts pumping. In the city you’ll also find rock-climbing walls – for everyone from beginners to experts – or for something really different, hire in-line skates.
Travel half an hour out of the city to Boomrock, a 3,000 acre farm for an exciting range of activities from BMW racing to clay pigeon shooting. When you feel like relaxing after all that hard work, try their food and wine pairings.
Culture & Wellywood
Sir Peter Jackson once said: “Nowhere else in the world does a premiere quite like Wellington.”
Of course, he was referring to his famous productions of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Fans of the movies can treat themselves to a Wellington movie tour that may include –
- Sites where scenes from the Lord of the Rings were filmed,
- A guided tour at the Weta Workshop animation studio and
- A drink at the site of Sir Jackson’s gala premieres – the Embassy Theatre.
A must-do on your vacation is a Maori-guided tour of Te Papa Tongarewa, the country’s national museum. Entertaining and informative, you’ll experience an hour’s escape back to the time before European settlers landed in the country.
Interactive displays of New Zealand’s geography add to the fun – be sure to check out the Colossal Squid, too. Stop off at the gift shop to find a wide range of quality souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else.
That’s the beauty of Wellington — no matter what you prefer, you’ll find a wide range of things to do in one compact, exciting and very cool city on a spectacular harbor.