The “coolest little capital in the world” is a city with more cafes and bars per capita than New York. According to Lonely Planet, Wellington is “cool with a capital C” and after the blockbuster successes with Lord of the Rings, everyone knows that Wellywood has the goods.
So, if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, Wellington is a lovely city to add to your itinerary. Here are some fun things to do in Wellington.
10 Things to do in Wellington for a weekend away
There are so many wonderful places to visit in New Zealand you’ll need weeks to see them all but if you’re looking for somewhere to visit for a weekend away, Wellington is a fabulous city to visit.
1- Ride the Wellington Cable Car
After a big night, you’ve deserved a sleep in. After a late breakfast, take the Wellington Cable Car (Cable Car Lane, 280 Lambton Quay) from Lambton Quay to the Wellington Botanic Gardens for views of the capital.
The Wellington Botanic Garden has over 26 hectares of landscaping with exotic forests, native bush, colourful floral displays and gorgeous specialist gardens.
2- Visit the Museum of New Zealand
New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa (55 Cable Street; open 10 am to 6 pm), is housed in a contemporary waterfront building.
As museums go, it’s a fantastic New Zealand museum for its interactive galleries on the subjects of art, history, the Pacific, Māori culture and the natural environment.
You’ll learn everything you need to know about the country at this museu
3- See the Meerkats at Wellington Zoo
Wellington Zoo has some pretty cool animal encounters, such as getting close to the giraffes, feeding the lions, stroking the cheetahs and playing with the meerkats. They’re a great option if you’re visiting with kids or looking for a surprise gift.
Wellington Zoo meerkat experience is fun and interactive and a great way to spend some time.
Wellington Zoo opened in 1906 is was the first zoo in New Zealand.
4- Take a drive up Mount Victoria
Although downtown Wellington is best explored on foot if you’re keen to explore the surrounding areas you’ll need to hire a car.
The drive to the top of Mount Victoria follows a winding road that leads to panoramic views of the city and the harbour.
A pleasurable way to discover Wellington like a local is to get lost on the snaking back roads in Roseneath, where there are beautiful views at every turn.
5- Take a Tour of the Weta Workshop
Most people realise that the “Lord of the Rings” movies were filmed on location in some of the most stunning landscapes of New Zealand.
What is not so well known is that much of the production was done at the Weta Workshop in the suburb of Miramar in Wellington.
The five-time Oscar-winning visual effects studio was responsible for the stunning effects in “Lord of the Rings”, “Avatar,” “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. The Weta Cave (Corner of Weka Street and Park Road, Miramar) screens a short film that will take you behind the scenes and movie buffs can buy books, magazines posters, figurines and limited-edition sculptures hand-crafted by the artists at Weta.
6- Discover Wellington’s coffee culture
If you love your coffee, Wellington is the city for you.
Start off with a leg stretch down at the waterfront and a coffee at Mojo Coffee Central (Shed 13, 37 Customhouse Quay).
Wellington’s strong coffee culture makes it impossible to get a bad cup of coffee anywhere. Wellingtonians are fussy about the brand of coffee they drink and Mojo is one of the well-known ones.
You can take a peek at the roasting process inside the beautifully restored Mojo building, which was once a working waterfront factory.
7- Go shopping on Cuba Street
There are plenty of trendy shops on and around Cuba Street. But first, pop into Fidel’s (234 Cuba Street) for lunch and a Havana coffee fresh from the roastery around the corner.
There’s a sunny outdoor courtyard and a couple of atmospheric indoor spaces.
Across the street, Madame Fancy Pants (217 Cuba Street) is the place for handmade jewellery designed by Claire Terry.
8- Go on a bar crawl
As it’s a compact city to walk around – downtown Wellington is about two kilometres from one end to the other – it’s the perfect destination to go on a bar crawl.
Head to Queens Wharf where the quirky Cuckoo Cocktail Emporium (33 Queens Wharf) not only sells drinks but also has their entire collection of eclectic furniture for sale.
Foxglove (33 Queens Wharf) is a sleek drinking hole with a number of small lounges ranging from one that dazzles with 1940’s vintage glamour to the comfy Sitting Room, which has an open fireplace, overstuffed couches and ottomans.
After dinner, there’s time for a nightcap at The Library (Level 1, 53 Courtenay Place), which combines lounge bar, reading room, live music venue and dessert venue in one.
9- Dine in bank restaurant
Dining in the chandeliered former 1920s banking chamber of Logan Brown Restaurant & Bar (192 Cuba Street) will most likely impress.
What’s more, you can have a three-course bistro meal (N$39.50) and soak up the grand atmosphere without breaking the bank, as long as you vacate the table before 7.30pm.
Make sure to take a peek at the salt-water fish tank that’s built into the bar top.
10- Visit the Maranui surf club
On the way to the airport, grab a quick bite at the funky retro Maranui Café in the Maranui Surf Life Saving Club (The Parade, Lyall Bay).
The salads are Mediterranean-licking good and the date scones are to die for.
Where to stay in Wellington
The InterContinental Wellington (2 Grey Street) is located in a central spot within walking distance of just about everywhere including shops, museums, galleries, the cafés and bars.