Wellington city is the capital of New Zealand and is situated at the south-western tip of the North Island.
The urban area extends to Porirua in the north, Lower Hutt in the east, and Upper Hutt in the north-east.
Whichever way you are travelling into Wellington, GO Rentals has you covered. Check out our New Zealand trip planner so you can get GOing with an epic road trip into Wellington.
If you’re looking for things to do in Wellington, you won’t be disappointed — the city is bursting with culture, character, and things to see and do. Here are our 20 favourite things to do in Wellington.
The 20 Best Things To Do In Wellington City (Full Breakdown)
1. Wellington Cable Car
The Wellington Cable Car is an iconic Wellington landmark and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
The cable car takes passengers from Lambton Quay in the city centre up to Kelburn, where there are spectacular views over Wellington and beyond.
At the top of the cable car ride, there is also a museum and an outdoor adventure playground.
2. Space Place at Carter Observatory
Space Place at Carter Observatory is Wellington’s hands-on astronomy centre and one of the best things to do in Wellington on a clear night.
The centre is located on the top of the Wellington Botanic Garden, and offers stunning views over the city.
Space Place has a range of interactive exhibits about the night sky, and you can also view the stars through the centre’s powerful telescopes.
3. Botanical Gardens
Spread over 25 acres of land, the Wellington Botanical Gardens are located on the slopes of Wellington’s hills and offer stunning views over the city.
The gardens are a great place to relax and take in the scenery, and there are also plenty of walking tracks to explore. If you love nature, visiting the Wellington Botanical Gardens is one of the best things to do in Wellington.
4. Craft Breweries
Wellington is home to a number of craft breweries, and many of them offer tours and tastings. This is a great way to learn about the brewing process and try some of Wellington’s best beer. Here are the four craft breweries you shouldn’t miss.
Heyday Brewing Co
Heyday Brewing Co is a small batch brewery located off Wellington’s Cuba street. The brewery offers an hour-long tour where you can taste four different beers made by the brewery.
Garage Project is one of Wellington’s most popular craft breweries, and it’s not hard to see why. The brewery offers a range of unique and interesting beers, and you can take a tour to learn about the brewing process.
In order to book a Garage Project tour, you must have a group of at least four people. The tour is open on Fridays and Saturdays, and is one-hour long.
The Occasional Brewer
The Occasional Brewer is a small batch brewery located off Adelaide road. It’s another great place to take a tour and learn about beer brewing, and you can try some of their beers on tap at the brewery.
The brewery offers both bottling and brewing sessions, and you can check their website for available slots.
Whistling Sisters Beer Co
Last but not the least, Whistling Sisters Beer Co is a craft brewery located on Taranaki Street, Te Aro. They offer tours, tastings, and you can also buy beer to take away.
5. Wellington Chocolate Factory
Based in the heart of Wellington, the Wellington Chocolate Factory is a must-visit for all chocolate lovers.
Using only the finest ingredients, they create some of the most delicious chocolate you’ll ever taste. As well as selling their chocolate in-store, they also offer tours of the factory so you can see how it’s made.
6. Tour Guides
Guided tours are always better than unguided tours when it comes to museums and buildings of historical and political importance. If you’re interested in museums, politics, and nature, make sure to take the following three tours.
Introducing Te Papa Tour
Wellington is home to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and this tour will give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most popular exhibits. Within one hour, you’ll get to explore New Zealand’s history and culture close-up.
Behind-the-scenes Parliament Tour
This free tour takes you inside New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings, where you’ll learn about the history and function of this important political institution. You’ll also get to see the debating chamber, the grand staircase, and the stunning rose gardens.
South Island Tours From Wellington
If you’re looking to explore beyond Wellington, consider taking a tour of the South Island. There are plenty of operators offering tours from Wellington, and you’re sure to find one that suits your interests and budget. The South Island is home to some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
7. Become A Friend of City Gallery
If you’re a fan of art and plan on visiting Wellington multiple times, then you should become a Friend of City Gallery Wellington. As a Friend, you’ll get discounts on ticketed events, as well as invitations to special events. You’ll also receive a 10% discount at the gallery shop.
8. Weta Workshop
Wellington is home to Weta Workshop, the world-renowned special effects company behind movies such as The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and King Kong.
You can take a tour of the workshop and see how they create their magic, or even try your hand at special effects yourself with one of their short courses.
Free with any GO Rentals hire, you can get access to a GO Play discount card which includes deals for the Weta Workshop and many more attractions.
9. LOTR Film Locations
Some people call Wellington mini Hollywood, and it’s not hard to see why when you consider that some of the world’s most popular movies have been filmed here.
If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings, then you can take a tour of some of the film locations around Wellington. Examples include Mount Victoria, Hutt River, Harcourt Park, and Kaitoke Regional Park.
Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne is an urban sanctuary that’s home to native birds, plants, and animals.
It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and you’re sure to see some incredible wildlife. If you’d like to learn more about the sanctuary and its residents, you can take a tour. The sanctuary offers both day and night tours, as well as a general admission voucher if you’d like to explore it on your own.
The sanctuary also houses a shop where you can buy animal-related books and jewellery, and a café so you can relax and enjoy food as you explore nature.
11. Martinborough Wine Tours In Wairarapa
Just an hour’s drive from Wellington, the Wairarapa region is home to some of New Zealand’s best wineries. Specifically, the picturesque town of Martinborough is the wine hub of Wairarapa, and you can easily spend a day exploring the vineyards and tasting the delicious wines on offer.
12. Enjoy A Wellington Ocean Sail
The Wellington Ocean Sports centre is located at the heart of the city and offers a variety of courses and sails for ocean-lovers. You can book a boat with up to 7 people and enjoy the waters without any prior sailing experience. Just make sure to wear warm clothes and a pair of sports shoes.
13. Mount Victoria Lookout
Mount Victoria Lookout is one of the best places to get a panoramic view of Wellington. It’s especially stunning at sunset, when the city lights up. If you’re feeling energetic, you can even walk to the lookout — it’s a fairly easy track that takes around 45 minutes.
14. Cuba Street
Cuba Street is one of Wellington’s most popular shopping and dining precincts, as well as an art hub. There’s a great selection of shops, cafes, and restaurants, and the street is always buzzing with activity. Be sure to check out some of the unique street art while you’re there.
15. Weta Cave
If you’re a fan of movies, then you should definitely visit Weta Cave. This is a free attraction that’s dedicated to movie memorabilia, and you’ll get to see props and costumes from some of your favourite films.
16. Matiu-Somes Island
Matiu-Somes Island is a small island in Wellington Harbour that’s home to a variety of native wildlife. You can take a ferry to the island, and once you’re there you can explore the walking tracks or go swimming at one of the beaches. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some penguins.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to ensure you and your belongings are pest-free before entering the island.
17. Wellington Waterfront
The Wellington Waterfront is a great place to relax and take in the scenery. There’s a promenade that’s perfect for strolling, and you can also hire a bike or go for a swim. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at kayaking on Wellington waterfront.
18. Old St Paul’s Church
Old St Paul’s Church is a beautiful Gothic-style church that was built in 1866. It’s one of Wellington’s most iconic landmarks, and it’s definitely worth a visit. The church is open to the public, and there are also guided tours available.
19. Lambton Quay
Lambton Quay is Wellington’s main shopping street, and it’s the perfect place to do some retail therapy. There’s a great selection of shops, and you’re sure to find something to suit your taste and budget.
20. Visit One Of Many Cafes And Order A Flat White
A flat white is a type of coffee that is thought to originate from New Zealand, and it’s become increasingly popular in recent years.
When you’re in Wellington, be sure to visit one of the many cafes and order a flat white. Here are our two recommendations for cafes to visit in Wellington:
Caffe L’Affare is a popular coffee chain that started in Wellington. They have a few cafes around New Zealand, and they’re all worth visiting. The coffee is excellent, and the staff are always friendly.
The Coffee Club
The Coffee Club is another great option for coffee in Wellington. They have a range of different coffees on offer — from flat white to latte to mocha — and you’re sure to find one that you like. The cafe also has a kid’s menu, making it a great place to visit with children.
So these were 20 of our favourite things to do in Wellington. But it doesn’t here! If you’ve already explored all of these options and have some extra time on your hands, consider checking out our honourable mentions.
Cafes And Restaurants To Eat
The Wellington region is home to some of the best cafes and restaurants in New Zealand. Here are our top three recommendations
The Preservatorium Cafe is a great option if you’re looking for somewhere to have brunch. They have a range of different menu items on offer — from breakfast mains to burgers and fries — and all of the food is made using fresh, local ingredients.
Ortega Fish Shack
If you’re in the mood for some fantastic seafood, you won’t want to miss out on Ortega Fish Shack.
This casual eatery is located close to the water, so you can enjoy stunning views of Wellington Harbour while you dine.
The menu features a wide variety of seafood dishes, including grilled fish, fish tacos, and fresh oysters. And don’t forget to try one of their delicious cocktails!
Duck Island Ice Cream
If you’re looking for something unique and delicious, look no further than Duck Island Ice Cream. This local favourite is made with fresh cream and real fruit, and it’s absolutely amazing. They also have gluten-free and dairy-free options, so you can try them out even if you’re allergic to these.
Activities To Explore
Make Your Own Shoes At Shoe School
Learn how to make your own shoes at Shoe School. This hands-on workshop will teach you everything you need to know, from choosing the right materials to construction techniques. At the end of the workshop, you’ll have a pair of custom-made shoes that you can wear with pride.
You can either take a 1-day sneaker workshop or enjoy a 4-day boot workshop, pretty cool! They also have several other workshops, so be sure to check out their website.
Check Out The Birds At Kapiti Island Nature Reserve
Kapiti Island Nature Reserve is home to a wide variety of native birds, including kaka, kokako, and hihi. The only way to see the birds is on a guided tour, which includes a boat ride to and from the island.
Attend A Wellington festival
Wellington is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, and there are always festivals and events taking place in the city.
Whether you’re into music, food, or the arts, you’re sure to find a festival that interests you. One of our favourites is Wellington Wine and Food Festival.
The art festival is held in February, while the craft beer festival is held in August. February also sees the Island Bay festival each year, which includes activities like swim to/from the island and The Ribble Street races. If you’re visiting in November, be sure to check out the Harbourside fireworks.
Places To Visit
Visit The Harbourside Market
The Harbourside market is a great place to find fresh produce, seafood, and artisanal goods. The market is open every Sunday, and it’s the perfect place to spend a leisurely morning.
Check Out The Wellington Zoo
Wellington Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals, including lions, tigers, and giraffes. The zoo also offers close encounters with animals like lemurs, red panda, and giraffes.
Tour The Red Rocks Reserve
Red Rocks Reserve is a great place to go for a hike or a picnic. The reserve is located on the south coast of Wellington, and it’s a great place to explore the rugged south coast of Wellington and its red rocks on foot.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most popular places to visit with kids?
The Wellington Zoo and the Te Papa Museum are two of the most popular places to visit with kids in Wellington. Other great options include the Botanic Garden, the Wellington Cable Car, and the Carter Observatory.
What are the top attractions for tourists visiting Wellington?
The top attractions for tourists visiting Wellington include the Te Papa Museum, the Wellington Zoo, and the Botanic Garden. Other great options include the Wellington Cable Car, the Carter Observatory, and the Wellington Waterfront.
How should I spend a day in Wellington?
This is a question we get asked a lot. There are so many different things to do in Wellington, and it can be hard to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 20 best things to do in Wellington City, to help you make the most of your time here.
Is Wellington worth visiting?
Absolutely! Wellington is a vibrant city with plenty of things to do, see, and enjoy. From its excellent restaurants and cafes, to its lively arts and culture scene, there’s something for everyone in Wellington.
How many days should I spend in Wellington?
Well, that depends on what you want to do and see while you’re here. If you’re just looking to explore the city and its surroundings, then two or three days should be enough.
However, if you’re looking to really experience everything Wellington has to offer, then we recommend staying for a week or more and checking out some of best places within a 3 hour drive of Wellington.
Is Wellington a beautiful city?
Well, that’s subjective. Some people find Wellington’s hilly terrain and windswept coastline to be rugged and beautiful, while others prefer the city’s more urban setting.
However, there’s no denying that Wellington has a unique charm and character that makes it an enjoyable place to visit.
Is a week enough in New Zealand?
Again, that depends on what you want to do. If you’re just looking to visit Wellington and its surroundings, then a week is probably enough. There are plenty of beautiful scenic drives from Wellington to check out too. However, if you want to explore the rest of New Zealand as well, then we recommend staying for two weeks or more.
The best way to explore the full area of Wellington is by car, so check out our available hire cars from Wellington airport and get GOing with your adventure.