Wellington has long been touted as the coolest little capital in the world and it certainly lives up to this reputation. There are countless activities to while away the hours, be it soaking up some serious culture at the many museums, unearthing some hidden gems in the plethora of charity shops on cool Cuba Street, partying until the wee small hours on Courtney Place or kicking back at the beach. ‘Welly’ will scoop you up in its big friendly arms and make you feel as if you’ve been mates all your life!
Soak Up the Culture at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Te Papa, or ‘Our Place’ as New Zealand’s national museum is sometimes known, is the MUST do activity for any first time visitor to Wellington. Packed to the rafters with exhibits displaying New Zealand’s rich cultural history and natural environment, it also houses the National Art Collection. And if this is not enough to tempt you in, Te Papa is home the world’s only giant squid specimen!
Hike to the Mount Victoria Lookout Stomp up to the summit, a cool 196m high and bask in the 360° panoramic views out across the city. You could catch the number 20 bus from the city center…but that would be cheating! Head for Majoribanks Street and ask for directions if needs be – Wellington locals are renowned for their friendly nature. Get up there for an early evening and watch the sun go down and the city lights come up…bringing a bottle of Champagne is optional (but you really should).
Spot Some of New Zealand’s Spectacular Wildlife at Zealandia Wellington’s groundbreaking conservation project was the world’s first fully fenced urban eco-sanctuary. It is THE place to see some of the country’s indigenous inhabitants, including over 30 species of birds as well as reptiles and plants. For a really unique experience, book a night tour for a rare chance to see the island’s nocturnal natives in their natural environment.
Take a Ride On the Wellington Cable Car to the Botanical Gardens Hop on at Lambton Quay and take in the view as you cruise up to the gardens. You can get there by foot…but why would you? There are 25 hectares of the unique landscape to explore and the garden is home to some of New Zealand’s oldest trees! You could take a tour or just merrily meander through the lush green forests and colorful floral displays until you’re ready to hop on the cable car back down.
Stroll Down Cuba Street This is Welly’s most happening part of town! Home to boutique bars and hip cafés as well as an impressive array of retro, designer outlets, and record shops. You could spend days hunting for treasures in the second hand and vintage shops. On Friday nights from 5 pm, you can hang out at the buzzing night market filled with culinary delights and stalls and a recently added pop-up bazaar, which gives local up and coming artists the chance to shine.
Fuel Up at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen You are spoiled for choice for great eats in Wellington’s bustling city center but our favorite spot is Sweet Mother’s Kitchen tucked away at the end of Courtenay Place. This New Orleans-style joint serves up fabulous hearty breakfasts all day on the weekends and Cajun and Creole inspired dishes, such as the juicy buttermilk fried chicken or Jambalaya as well as classic Mexican snacks like tacos and quesadillas. If you’ve any room left, the Bananas Foster from the dessert menu is to die for and the beer fridge is well stocked with New Zealand craft and Mexican classics. The staff are warm and welcoming and you’re guaranteed to leave with a full belly and a great big smile on your face!
Shout a Holla To Gandalf ‘Wellywood’ is not only the home of Peter Jackson’s film studies, it also houses the perfect place to unleash your inner movie geek, the Weta Caves! Get a free behind-the-scenes glimpse at the magic of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films at this mini-museum. And if this is music to your elfin ears, you can take a tour of the Weta Studios themselves and learn some of their very own secrets…
Hit the Beach! Wellington and its surrounding area is home to some fairly epic beaches – not surprising really, given the city’s setting on a sparkling harbor! Kick back at Oriental Bay, a short stroll from the city center and a place that features some classy eating establishments, catch some waves at Lyall Bay (the top surf spot in the area), or take a ferry to Days Bay and paddle in the shallows before perusing the cafés and delis of the southern suburbs.
Head Out On Courtenay Street Wellington’s late night playground is always jumping until the sun comes up – Courtenay Place has sites to suit everyone. Chill out and treat your ears to top tunes at Vinyl, mull over the 80-strong beer list at The Malt House, where the beer gets the respect it deserves, or get your groove on at Establishment, guaranteed late night party venue with resident DJs!
Now that you’re all ready to tick Wellington off your BUCKiTDREAM list, why not start planning your next big trip with these 6 reasons you’re missing out on Marseille or get those sunnies at the ready and check out the top 10 beaches from around the world?