The Best Things To Do In Wellington

Written By: Claire Hollands

Located on the southern region of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington is one of those cities that you won’t forget when you leave – and many agree – making it Lonely Planet’s ‘coolest little capital in the world.’ This darling city has so much to see and experience, from the massive art scene and marketplaces to the shopping, nature and wildlife experiences you can enjoy during any stay.

During any stay in Wellington, a trip to the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum is highly recommended by locals. As the national museum, there are countless collections and exhibits dedicated to the country and culture presented in an interactive experience. The waterfront location of the museum makes it an excellent stop when you’re in the area. Aside from the beach vibes and casual ambiance, Wellington also has a lot to offer visitors from its assortment of attractions and points of interest. Nightly theatre shows, museum collections, and numerous art galleries with local and international artists. Gorgeous views from all around Wellington are easy to see, but some of the best views in the area are from Kelburn, which is located on the top of a hill and can be accessed by the Wellington Cable Car. Another option is to take the city bus to Mount Victoria for astounding panoramic views of the city and entire landscape.

Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit? Director Peter Jackson has used the area in many notable films and you can see the locations on one of the variety of movie tours. Wellington is also known for its vast number of restaurants and bars, which means you’ll never go far without some great food or beverage options. Explore the area around Cuba Street and Courtenay Place for exceptional fine dining, coffee, artisan cocktails and dining cafes!

Wellington’s waterfront alone is worth exploring during any stay in the city – check out the Queens Wharf for unique sights and sounds. When you’re ready to go inland, you’ll have plenty to see including botanic gardens, wildlife sanctuaries and even short day cruises to nearby Kapiti Island, home to some of the world’s endangered birds.


Wellington Cable Car

A real workhorse, since 1902 the Wellington Cable Car has been the trundling from the city, up the hill to the Kelburn Village. During this short trip you will see the sights of the city including the hills that surround the city, and the harbour. At the top, see the Cable Car Museum, the Carter Observatory, and of course the botanic gardens.



The Zealandia sanctuary’s mission is to restore the historical abundance of native plants and animals to New Zealand. Just ten minutes from Wellington city, you can enjoy this park during the day, or at dusk. The park is fully enclosed, so all the animals are protected from predators. Take a guided tour and see the wide variety of birds and flora or relax and enjoy a meal at the café overlooking the lake.


New Zealand’s Parliament (Beehive)

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of touring the sights and take a free one-hour tour of the nation’s parliament. In this tour you will see examples of the country’s murals and artworks, and if parliament is sitting, you can watch from the public gallery. Grab a meal at the café before heading back to the city.


Old St Paul’s Cathedral

With its classic gothic architecture, the Old St Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1845 and retains the grandeur of that time. Pause to take in the use of native timbers in the interior and look upwards to the ceiling – it resembles the upturned hull of a sailing ship. The cathedral is no longer a place of regular worship, but it remains a local favourite for weddings.


Wellington Botanic Garden

Take in the natural beauty of New Zealand with a stroll around the 25 hectares of these historical Wellington Botanic Gardens. Established in 1868, the gardens showcase the plants of the forest, and display over 100 species of roses. As you unwind you will come across the visitor centre – which is a wealth of information – and have a drink at the teahouse. To get the most out of this visit, take a guided tour!


Museum of Wellington

When you enter the Museum of Wellington, its links to the maritime history of Wellington are obvious – its housed in a Heritage Listed Bond Store! Walk your way through history right up to today’s modern technology. The displays are interactive, the artefacts and holographs are plentiful, and when it’s time for a rest, the documentaries on the big cinema screen are entertaining and informative.


Carter Observatory

Nestled in the serenity of the Wellington Botanic Gardens, a visit to the Carter Observatory will launch you into a discovery of the southern sky. Seek out the Southern Cross constellation and absorb the displays that unlock the mysteries of the universe. This is great fun, and if the night weather permits, you can gaze at the sky through a high-power telescope. While you’re there, make sure you visit the planetarium, too!


Weta Workshop

Movie lovers, this incredible experience is for you! Travel behind the scenes of this Wellington studio and discover how the creativity of the famous movies comes to life, with props, weapons and characters from movies such as Lord of the Rings and Avatar. Visit the mini museum to see the props from movies that this studio has worked on and visit the Weta Cave Shop where you can take selfies with life size sculptures, and buy mementos!

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