The nation’s capital is a fantastic hub of a culture and a place where things happen. It’s probably due to the fact that nothing can stay still in the Windy City, literally.
Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to fun things to do and places to visit in Wellington and many of them are also free as well!
With so many options, we thought we’d share our Top 10 Wellington attractions to make it a bit easier for you to plan your next trip to the city.
1. Te Papa
The national museum of our great country, Te Papa, is a popular, highly-rated and important institution. Te Papa celebrates and explores everything that is unique to New Zealand. Maori culture and history, our natural environment, the stories from our past – it’s an amazing place to gain a fascinating insight into everything that makes us who we are.
The incredible collections are matched by world-class facilities including interactive displays that a situated right throughout the museum. They also have an extensive and thorough programme of events and touring exhibitions that feature at all times of the year. Recent exhibitions include Bug Lab, Whales and Kura Pounamu.
When visiting Te Papa you can explore it yourself or join one of their walking tours where a knowledgeable guide will show you some of the highlights sharing their own anecdotes about things along the way.
2. Wellington Cable Car
The Wellington Cable Car has a bit of everything in the experience that it offers. There’s great history, the enjoyable ride of the cable car itself, fantastic views and more making it a fantastic way to spend a few hours.
The Cable Car has been in operation since 1902, it has over 100 years with plenty of stories to tell over that time and making it one of the most visited attractions in the history of the city.
From its city centre location, the cable car ride takes you from Lampton Quay to the elevated suburb of Kelburn. The 5-minute journey is great fun and the views you’ll enjoy going up and from the viewing platform are breathtaking.
Once you’re there, you’re also able to explore other attractions like the Cable Car Museum, Space Place and Botanical gardens. You can even catch a free shuttle to Zealandia which is conveniently the next attraction on our list!
Zealandia is a one-of-a-kind ecosanctuary experience that gives visitors a unique and memorable way to witness wildlife and nature.
It was in actual fact, the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary, built with an extraordinary 500-year goal to return a 225-hectare plot of land back to its original pre-human state. Over 100 species of birdlife, wildlife and plant species have been introduced and are flourishing in the sanctuary.
There are a number of walking tracks and tramping tracks that visitors can take as part of the self-guided tour as well as the walking tours which include the magical twilight and nighttime tours. A highly recommended place to include for your next visit to the city.
4. Cuba Street
From nature to the street, and not just any street. Cuba Street, one of the edgiest and hip areas of the city and the place where you’ll conveniently find our Willis Wellington Hotel.
That’s not (entirely) the reason we’ve chosen it of course as there’s plenty of things to see and do whilst strolling down Cuba Street. The eclectic collection of niche and independent shops make it an interesting place to acquire a few new additions to the wardrobe as well as take-away souvenirs and trinkets.
You’ll also find some of Wellington’s best cafes, restaurants and bars to wine and dine in and the street performers will keep you entertained. You’ll also want to take a selfie by the ‘Bucket Fountain’, the street’s most famous structure.
5. Weta Cave
You can’t visit Wellington without having a movie or Lord of the Rings experience and you can’t do much better for that than a visit to Peter Jackson’s Weta Cave.
The Weta Cave is the public face of Weta Workshop, the creative force behind the costumes, props, sets and models of Peter Jackson’s films and many other Hollywood blockbusters.
The Weta Cave itself is a shop where you can buy memorabilia and souvenirs, but you can book yourself tickets to go on an awesome tour of the workshop too, led by one of the creative talents working on the latest projects.
It’s a great experience where you’ll get a whole new appreciation of the talent and wizardry on show.
6. Beehive Tour
Having just mentioned a Weta Cave, it seems only natural to move onto a Beehive. As you might already know, we’re not talking about an actual Beehive, but referring to the name of the building which acts as the country’s parliament building.
The building, with it’s unique resemblance to that of a beehive, is one of the most recognisable in New Zealand and is a must-see photo stop in any visit to the capital.
You can also visit the Beehive and go on one of the tours that are offered every day of the week where you’ll learn about New Zealand’s history and parliamentary processes. This includes the impressive Debating Chamber where the all the day-to-day action takes place!
It’s not something you can do in every country you visit and is a great one to do here.
7. Old St Paul’s
The Beehive isn’t the only iconic building in the city worth visiting. Another is Old St Paul’s, an Anglican Church that has been a presence in the city since 1866.
Whilst the Beehive is iconic for its exterior, the Old St Paul’s is iconic for its interior which is quite simply, breathtaking. Constructed from the finest native timber of the time, the wooden beams and structures that support the roof are a marvel in architectural terms and the stained glass around are a sight to behold.
Visiting hours are between 10 am – 5 pm and you can also have an introductory talk and hear about some of the fascinating stories the church has collected over the years.
8. Oriental Bay
You can’t have a Top 10 list for any city in New Zealand without mentioning a beach and whilst Wellington has a lot of great options for beaches, we’ve gone with the stunning Oriental Bay.
Oriental Bay is just 20 minutes walk from the middle of the city and a real hotspot when visiting in the Summer. The locals and visitors love the long stretch of golden sand with its gorgeous views of the city and harbour.
There’s always a lot going on along the beach and parade with joggers and buskers, lots of cafes and the renowned Carter Memorial Fountain to admire out in the seas. A wonderful place to spend some time.
9. Mount Victoria
Not far from Oriental Bay is the mighty Mount Victoria, the most well-known mountain in the city with its peak at 196m giving visitors spectacular views of the capital.
The mountain is a great place for a walk and picnic but is also a place where you can do some movie location hunting as it was the spot they filmed the famous “Get off the road!” scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
If you’re visiting with a special someone, then the lookout point is a good one to go at sunrise or sunset, to capture the most perfect of romantic moments!
10. Staglands Wildlife Reserve
Last, but by no means least, we feature the Staglands Wildlife Reserve, another natural wonder that’s a highly rated attraction for the whole family.
The Staglands Wildlife Reserve is a place that has taken all the best elements of a farm park and Zoo and put them together. In the beautiful natural environment of the Akatarawa Valley, visitors are able to get up close and personal with their inhabitants including native birds like the Blue Duck, Kea, Kaka and Brown Teal as well as the animals like the Arapawa Island Goats, Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Emu and of course the Deer themselves.
The kids love the tractor rides but it really is an experience that is enjoyed by all and is a scenic 1-hour drive from the city.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of 10 things to do Wellington! Like we said earlier, you really are spoilt for choice when you visit the Windy City. With so many great attractions the tricky thing will be really fitting them all in!