I’ve had an ongoing love affair with the town of Wellington, New Zealand, for almost all of my life. I first visited in 2005 (proper after I graduated highschool), and instantly advised my mother and father I used to be going to maneuver to the New Zealand capital. I did simply that three years later throughout college with a semester overseas in Wellington, falling in love with the quirky, artistic, windy metropolis much more.
I’ve since been again to Wellington a number of extra occasions, and it stays considered one of my favourite cities wherever on this planet – and that is saying one thing, contemplating what number of superior cities I’ve visited!
Wellington is a metropolis that is stuffed with character. It is the political capital of New Zealand, sure, however it’s additionally the nation’s cultural and inventive capital. At occasions it feels extra like a small city than a serious metropolis, which has helped or not it’s named the “coolest little capital on this planet.”
Enjoyable info about Wellington
First, let’s get to know Wellington a bit higher:
- Wellington is positioned on the south-western tip of the North Island, close to the Cook dinner Strait that separates the North and South islands of New Zealand.
- Legend tells that the Polynesian explorer Kupe first found and explored the area that may develop into New Zealand within the tenth century. The Wellington space was inhabited by indigenous Māori peoples earlier than European colonization within the 1800s (and its title to them is Te Whanganui-a-Tara).
- Wellington was named in 1840 after Arthur Wellesley, the primary Duke of Wellington (who by no means visited New Zealand).
- Wellington is the southernmost capital metropolis on this planet, sitting at 41.2924° S. (It wasn’t the nation’s first capital, although; Previous Russell/Okiato was the primary capital from 1840-41, and Auckland was the capital up till 1865.)
- The inhabitants of the Wellington metro space is round 420,000.
- Wellington is without doubt one of the windiest cities on this planet, incomes it the nickname “Windy Welly.” Winds right here common 16 mph (7.15 m/s).
- Wellington is reported to have extra cafes per capita than New York Metropolis!
RELATED: 7 Issues You Should Do in Auckland, New Zealand
The very best issues to do in Wellington
As somebody who’s visited Wellington many occasions – and even lived there briefly! – listed below are my private picks for the very best issues to do in your first go to to Wellington.
1. Have a seashore day at Oriental Bay
Oriental Bay is the title of each a Wellington neighborhood and the town’s solely true seashore. On a sunny day, the water right here turns a good looking deep turquoise shade, and the colourful homes climbing up Wellington’s hills make for an excellent backdrop.
Oriental Bay is the spot the place the primary stirrings of my emotions for Wellington have been born. On a pleasant day, that is, hands-down, my favourite place to be in Wellington. And I am not alone in feeling this manner — locals and guests alike gravitate towards Oriental Bay on weekends and sunny days.
2. Go to Te Papa
New Zealand’s nationwide museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, is positioned in downtown Wellington, proper on the finish of Taranaki Road close to the waterfront. Not solely are you able to study all about New Zealand’s historical past right here, however entry into the smooth, fashionable museum is free.
I could also be a bit biased, however that is considered one of my favourite museums on this planet due to its format, shows, interactive options, and big selection of reveals. Well-liked issues to see at Te Papa embrace reveals on New Zealand nature and Māori and Pacific tradition; the one Colossal Squid on show on this planet; and an unimaginable, groundbreaking exhibit in regards to the Gallipoli marketing campaign in World Battle I.
Te Papa makes for an excellent wet day exercise in Wellington (which you may very properly want!). In addition they provide a guided museum tour should you’re into that.
3. Wellington Waterfront Stroll
There’s a complete strolling and biking route alongside the whole Te Whanganui-a-tara (Wellington harbor) referred to as The Nice Harbour Means / Te Aranui o Pōneke. A fantastic part of that is the Wellington Waterfront Stroll that stretches from Te Papa to Frank Kitts Park.
That is all the time a vigorous space, with individuals strolling, biking, skating, and even rowing when the climate is sweet, together with bars and eating places spilling over into outside terraces stuffed with bean bag chairs. If locals aren’t on the seashore on a sunny day, they’re most likely on this space.
The Wellington Writers Stroll additionally follows this route, and options massive carvings of various literary quotes you possibly can look out for.
(And, should you’re touring to Wellington with youngsters, Frank Kits Park has a pleasant play space with a giant slide formed like a lighthouse.)
4. Metropolis to Sea Bridge to Civic Sq.
Once you’re strolling alongside this part of waterfront, you may finally see the Metropolis to Sea Bridge, a pedestrian bridge and public paintings that connects the Whairepo Lagoon to Civic Sq.. The bridge is roofed in wood sculptures carved by Maori artist Paratene Matchitt, and is absolutely an attraction in its personal proper.
On the different finish of the bridge lies Te Ngākau Civic Sq., which is residence to the well-known “fern ball” sculpture suspended within the air.
The unique “Ferns” sculpture by artist Neil Dawson was eliminated in 2015 on account of security issues, and a substitute was lastly put up on 2020.
In Civic Sq., you may additionally discover the doorway to the Metropolis Gallery Wellington. Entry to this artwork museum and gallery can also be free!
5. Trip the historic cable automobile
From Civic Sq., it is a quick stroll into Wellington Central to the decrease station of the Wellington Cable Automotive, which is unquestionably a must-do in Wellington.
The historic Wellington cable automobile is a funicular railway that has been operating between Lambton Quay (the town’s most important purchasing avenue) and Kelburn for greater than 100 years, carrying each locals going about their day-to-day lives and vacationers searching for some nice views. (I really like this about Wellington – nothing is solely for locals or just for vacationers.)
A journey as much as the highest takes simply 5 minutes, with one cease within the center. As soon as at Kelburn Station, there is a small (and free) cable automobile museum you possibly can go to, plus a viewing space that provides up among the highest views of Wellington. It additionally principally places you proper within the Wellington Botanic Backyard.
(You’ll be able to technically pre-book your cable automobile tickets if you would like, however you do not have to. It is easy to buy them on the station.)
6. Wellington Botanic Backyard
Masking 64 acres, the Wellington Botanic Backyard is a good looking place to discover with 150+ years of historical past within the metropolis. The backyard itself consists of numerous floral shows and deliberate gardens (the Girl Norwood Rose Backyard is especially well-known), and is free to go to!
You may additionally discover sculptures, a duck pond, and a restaurant inside the gardens.
House Place at Carter Observatory can also be inside the backyard grounds, and is a science museum that covers stars, planets, constellations, and New Zealand’s contribution to astronomy. This can be a paid museum.
7. See The Beehive
Wellington is New Zealand’s political capital, and is residence to all the standard authorities buildings. One which’s not so “common” is the Government Wing of New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings, which is colloquially known as “The Beehive” due to its attention-grabbing form.
The well-known constructing was constructed between 1969 and 1981, and right now homes the workplaces of presidency ministers.
You’ll be able to take a tour of NZ Parliament (which incorporates The Beehive) when you have time. I did it whereas I used to be residing in Wellington, and located it attention-grabbing. Excursions are supplied a number of occasions per day, 7 days per week, and are free! However you do want to order tour spots prematurely, as group sizes are restricted. Extra information right here.
Need to see a few of these issues on a tour of Wellington? Listed here are some good choices:
8. Go to Previous St. Paul’s
If attention-grabbing structure is a draw for you, then you definately’ll need to make time to go to Previous St. Paul’s in Wellington. This Gothic Revival-style church dates again to 1866 and is thought for its stunning inside arches comprised of native New Zealand woods like rimu and kauri.
It is a beloved heritage constructing not removed from Wellington’s most important practice station (additionally a heritage constructing), and entry is on a donation foundation. Excursions are additionally accessible.
9. Watch a sundown from Mount Victoria
Have you ever actually been to Windy Welly should you weren’t almost blown away atop Mount Victoria? Debatable.
Identified regionally as “Mount Vic,” Mount Victoria is the title of each a neighborhood and a 650-foot-tall hill simply to the east of Wellington Metropolis. From the Mount Victoria Lookout, you get unimaginable 360-degree views of Wellington. It is a common sundown spot, however value seeing at any time of day.
You’ll be able to both drive up Mount Vic through Alexandra Highway (or take a bus!), or there are additionally a number of climbing and mountain biking trails that result in the highest.
BONUS: Mount Vic movie places
Mount Vic was additionally used as a filming location for the “Lord of the Rings” movies – most notably some early scenes in “Fellowship of the Ring,” together with the well-known “get off the street!” scenes with the hobbits hiding from Black Riders.
If you wish to discover these spots, observe the “Hobbit’s Hideaway path,” which is marked on maps and path indicators on Mount Victoria.
10. Hang around on Cuba Road
Again in central Wellington, my favourite all-weather spot within the metropolis is Cuba Road. That is the place you go once you need to eat, seize a drink, store, or simply hang around. Cuba Road is all the time vigorous with cafes, bars, and buskers, and has a pair blocks which can be car-free.
Some common spots for meals alongside Cuba Road embrace:
- HELL Pizza – A pizza restaurant with pies named after issues just like the 7 Lethal Sins (and so they even have a “Mordor” pie)
- Fidel’s Cafe – A Cuban Road establishment serving up meals and Cuban espresso
- The Flying Burrito Brothers – I ate right here quite a bit in faculty!
- Midnight Espresso – It does, certainly, serve up espresso and meals till after midnight
- Olive – The serve French- and Italian-inspired meals and have a cool indoor courtyard vibe
- Floriditas – A traditional New Zealand restaurant
- Kaffee Eis – My absolute favourite spot for gelato
I lived near Cuba Road once I lived in Wellington, and spent a number of time right here! There’s all kinds of worldwide eating places, too.
11. Espresso store or brewery-hop
Wellington has an abundance of cafes of all sizes and styles – actually, I’ve learn that there are extra cafes per capita right here than in New York Metropolis!
Some good espresso retailers to strive embrace:
- The Hangar
- Swimsuit Espresso (a number of places)
- Havana Espresso Works
- Pour and Twist
- Evil Twins Espresso
- Peoples Espresso
One other factor you may discover a number of within the Wellington area are craft breweries, which is a change from once I lived there! Wellington is now changing into a craft beer powerhouse in New Zealand, so it is positively one thing to look out for. There’s even a “Craft Capital Beer Path” you possibly can observe.
Just a few common spots in central Wellington embrace:
- Storage Venture
- Heyday Beer Co
- Parrotdog Brewing
- The Whistling Sisters
And this half-day brewery tour takes you out to much more breweries a bit of bit outdoors of central Wellington.
12. Get your geek on at Weta Workshop
I am an enormous “Lord of the Rings” fan – and sure, I imply HUGE. (I’ve even been on a Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand.) In case you are, too, then you possibly can’t go to Wellington with out visiting Wētā within the suburb of Miramar.
Weta Workshop is the place the place film artwork, results, and props have been created ever for the reason that Lord of the Rings trilogy put New Zealand on the movie-making map. Begin with a behind-the-scenes tour of Weta Workshop (superb for any film fan), and finish within the Weta Cave, the place you should purchase all kinds of geeky memorabilia.
The behind-the-scenes Weta tour is tremendous attention-grabbing even when your aren’t a giant fan of hobbits and orcs. (E book an entry ticket right here, or a ticket with transfers right here.)
BONUS: Roxy Cinema
Additionally in Miramar not removed from Weta, you possibly can go to the historic Roxy Cinema. This artwork deco magnificence started its life as The Capitol Theatre in 1928, was utilized as a shopping mall after the theater closed in 1964, and finally turned vacant. The theater was saved and lovingly refurbished by a workforce from Wētā Workshop, and reopened in 2011 because the Roxy.
You’ll be able to catch a movie right here on considered one of two two luxurious cinema screens, get pleasure from lunch or dinner at CoCo on the Roxy, or simply seize a espresso at The Roxy Café.
13. Go to a coastal suburb
Wellington is made up of a bunch of various neighborhoods and suburbs, every with its personal character. If you wish to get out of the town for a day, I’d recommend one of many southern coastal suburbs like Lyall Bay, Houghton Bay, or Island Bay.
The suburb of Island Bay, located on a bay of the identical title, is considered one of my private favorites. There is a beautiful sandy seashore right here, and you can begin hikes close by, together with the Pink Rocks Coastal stroll that leads out to a seal colony throughout the winter months.
14. Study native wildlife at Zealandia
Simply barely west of central Wellington lies Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne, the world’s first fully-fenced city eco-sanctuary. The conservation-focused sanctuary protects native species like birds, lizards, crops, and timber, and is unquestionably value a go to!
You’ll be able to go to throughout the day to look out for native birds just like the takahē and prehistoric reptiles just like the tuatara lizard. You too can go to an evening (tremendous cool!) to attempt to see glow worms and the nocturnal kiwi chook.
Guided walks/excursions are supplied each day year-round – and that is an outside expertise, so costume accordingly! (E book a daytime tour right here, or guide a nighttime tour right here.)
15. Go to a close-by regional park
The Wellington Area of New Zealand is bursting with parks and forests – greater than 123,000 acres of them, actually. Locals usually spend their free time climbing (in NZ they name it “tramping”) and biking in these regional parks.
My private favourite is Kaitoke Regional Park, roughly 45 minutes from central Wellington in Higher Hutt. Situated within the foothills of the Tararua Ranges, there are some good climbing choices on this park, together with a really cool swing bridge, a number of rivers you possibly can swim in, AND a “Lord of the Rings” filming location. (The Rivendell set was constructed right here in Kaitoke, and there are indicators exhibiting the place sure scenes have been filmed.)
Another nice regional parks shut near the town embrace:
- East Harbour Regional Park
- Belmont Regional Park
- Akatarawa Forest
- Baring Head/Orua-pouanui
BONUS: Journeys from Wellington
In the event you’re spending extra time within the Wellington area, it is also inside a pair hours’ drive to the next North Island spots:
- Paraparaumu and the Kāpiti Coast (Kapiti Island is superb to go to!)
- Martinborough and the Wairarapa wine area
- Cape Palliser (additionally residence to a different LOTR filming location on the Putangirua Pinnacles)
- Castlepoint with its sea cliffs and lighthouse
Excursions you would possibly prefer to a few of these locations:
What number of days do you want in Wellington?
Wellington is a comparatively small metropolis (the entire metro space has a inhabitants of about 420,000, however solely about half that inhabitants lives in Wellington correct). And whereas there’s a lot to do, you possibly can simply see all of the highlights in 2-3 days.
Simply make sure to pack wind- and water resistant clothes, as Windy Welly’s climate can get intense!
RELATED: What to Pack for a Journey to New Zealand
Learn how to get to Wellington
Wellington has a small worldwide airport with frequent each day home connections to different cities in New Zealand, in addition to each day flights to cities in Australia.
You’ll be able to drive to Wellington from different locations on the North Island, and you may attain Wellington from the South Island through one of many ferries that crosses the Cook dinner Strait between Picton and Wellington. (The Interislander and Bluebridge ferry corporations function these.)
RELATED: The Good 2-Week New Zealand Highway Journey Itinerary
The place to remain in Wellington
I like to recommend staying both within the Wellington CBD, or in Te Aro simply south of downtown. A few of my favourite resorts within the metropolis (that I’ve personally stayed at) embrace:
And should you’re doing a campervan journey round New Zealand, then the Wellington High 10 Vacation Park in Decrease Hutt is the closest good campsite.
Is Wellington NZ value visiting?
In the event you’ve learn this far, I believe you possibly can most likely guess my reply to this: sure, in fact! Wellington is unquestionably value visiting, and value dedicating at the very least a pair days to in any New Zealand itinerary.
Wellington is not only one other capital metropolis – it is the Coolest Little Capital within the World!
Have you ever ever been to Wellington? If not, is it a metropolis you need to go to?
Leave a Reply