Heading to Wellington and unsure of what to do first? Here’s a list of some of the must-see spots in and around the city:
Learn the culture at Te Papa Museum
The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, is multiple floors PACKED with culture and art – and an absolute must-see when you’re in New Zealand. There are always special (paid) exhibits available to the public, and the rest of the museum is completely FREE!
Hang out on Cuba Street
Cuba Street is the central street in Wellington, full of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. Every day of the year, you can be entertained by street performers and artists from one end of the street to the other. You’ll see children playing and splashing around in the larger-than-life fountain, and old friends catching up over a “cuppa” on a cafe patio. No matter the weather, you’ll be sure to be entertained on Cuba!
Visit the Wellington Night Market
The Wellington Night Market is offered on Friday and Saturday nights, all year long! The markets are chalk full of food trucks and local artisans, musicians and small business owners. They even host themed markets throughout the year for things like the Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival!
Ride the Cable Car
The Wellington Cable Car transports riders between the Botanic Gardens (see my next must-see location) in a few different locations, and Lambton Quay right in the center of the city. It runs every 10 minutes, and is a very inexpensive ride for how cool it is. Not only do you get great views of the city, but you also get to go through some cool tunnels full of awesome lights. Writing about it definitely doesn’t do it justice…the ride never gets old!
Bask in the Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens are located right outside of the city center, spanning between two towns called Kelburn and Thorndon. I would suggest setting aside about a half day to enjoy this landmark to its fullest! From huge (seriously, HUGE) flower displays, to gardens, to indigenous plant life, you will see more beauty than you could imagine. The space is super serene and even offers small gazebos and duck ponds to stop and look at along your path!
Jump from the Wharf Platform
Located right in the heart of Oriental Bay, you’ll find a small wharf surrounded by a large staircase. There are two different levels (high, and higher) that people can JUMP from into the wharf! On a warm day, you’ll see people waiting in line to jump from the staircase; even some amazing divers doing flips and tricks from the “high dive!” Even if you aren’t going to jump, seeing the platform in action will definitely put a smile on your face!
See the city from the Mount Victoria Lookout
The Mount Vic lookout is so cool for many reasons; first, it’s accessible by car, OR by hike! My husband and I decided to hike up and take in the surroundings since we visited the lookout on such a gorgeous day. We took our time on the longest route to the lookout, and when we got to the top in about 2 hours. When we got to the top, we were even able to spot our apartment! We thought we had walked so far outside of the city, but in reality, this gem is VERY close…and makes you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Take a hike
Wellington has hiking options for days! In addition to the Mount Vic Lookout, we’ve taken a few other great hikes right outside of the city center. There’s even a great app for people visiting or even living in Wellington that shows different hikes in the area, the difficulty level and the distance. We are looking forward to adding more hikes to our list!
Take a walk (and grab a brew!) on Oriental Parade
Oriental Parade is a fantastic place to take a casual stroll, kick your shoes of, and enjoy some good views (and brews)! Small storage containers line the boardwalk rented by local artisans and business owners, and food trucks line that same pathway on Saturdays and Sundays. You’ll see people jumping from the wharf, roller blading and riding bicycles. Ferries return and depart from the port right along the walkways, and sailboats, kayaks and paddle boards fill the water on a sunny, warm day! Not to mention the water is lined with some awesome restaurants and pubs to really enhance your on-the-water experience.
Get out on the water!
If you’d rather be IN the water than on the sidelines, you’re in luck! Wellington’s summer is the perfect time to lay out on the beach and get a tan, rent a paddle board, surf board, kite board or windsurfing gear and get out there! Just want to go for a dip? That’s fine too! You can even get out on the water in the wintertime with the right gear, and depending on the activity you’re up for. The city is surrounded by water, so why not use it?!