I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say that Wellington is boring, but it feels like a lot. In fact I hear it said about Auckland as well, and it’s just not true. For a start there are an extraordinary amount of free things to do in Wellington. Wellington is also the capital city so if you’re into culture this is the city to visit. Of course if you’re heading to the South Island then you have to visit Wellington in order to get the ferry across the Cook Strait. It’s an amazing ferry trip with such beautiful views. (Don’t fly!) Anyway, here are some of the best Wellington activities, including a few free or cheap must do’s.
Best Things To Do in Wellington
1. Visit the National Museum – Te Papa
It’s no lie to say that Te Papa Museum is one of the best museums in the world, and I’ve visited a lot of them. You can easily spend a whole day in here due to the sheer volume of exhibits on display. You’ll learn about the history of New Zealand, experience an earthquake, see taonga (Maori treasures) and a Marae amongst many other permanent and touring exhibitions. Entry is free but some exhibitions will cost you a small entrance fee.
2. Take a Ride on the Wellington Cable Car
Wellingtons cable car is, in many ways, a rite of passage when visiting Wellington. It’s certainly an iconic image. The cable car will take you from Lambton Quay to Kelburn in a quick 5 minutes. Once at the top make sure to check out the view and take your version of this iconic image of Wellington. You can also visit the Cable Car Museum whilst at the top. Kelburn is where Wellington Botanic Gardens are located, so make sure to explore those too.
3. Walk Around Wellington Botanic Gardens
If you weren’t lucky enough to see the Glow Worms in Waitomo Caves then you have the chance to see them here. Of course you’ll have to visit at night! There are several different walking tracks through the gardens as well as Begonia House, which displays tropical and temperate plants, and the award winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden. The Main garden is best to visit in Spring when it comes alive with 25,000 tulips!
4. Visit The Weta Cave & Weta Workshop
If you haven’t already spotted the ‘Wellywood’ sign then you might not know that Wellington is the centre of the NZ film industry. The Weta Workshop has been involved in creating props and costumes for some of the biggest movies filmed in New Zealand. If you’re a movie lover then a visit to the Weta Cave is an absolute must. It’s free entry and you can visit their museum (it’s small but good), see some of their sculptures and watch a documentary giving you an insight into what goes on ‘behind the scenes’.
5. Go on a Lord of The Rings Tour
If you have the time and are a true LOTR fan, then you should go on a Wellington Movie Tour. The tour includes a visit to Weta Cave as well as being taken to where they filmed some of the most famous scenes in The Lord of The Rings films, including a visit to Miramar Studios. There are a few different tour options to choose from, but whichever you choose you’ll have an unforgettable day. Find out more about Wellington Movie Tours.
6. Be Cool on Cuba St
Known by many as New Zealands coolest street, Cuba Street is the place to go for a bit of bohemia. The street is even a registered Historic Area! On Cuba St you’ll find buskers, art galleries, vintage shops, cool cafes and alleyways with some interesting graffiti. You’re more than likely going to find some hipsters here too!
7. See the Sights on a Wellington City Sights Tour
This tour is particularly good for those short on time in Wellington as it gives you a great insight into Wellington as well as seeing the highlights. You’ll learn about the Beehive and other Parliament buildings, take a trip to the Wellington Botanic Garden, check out the views from Mt Victoria, go inside the heritage Old St Pauls Cathedral and see the stunning coastline. The trip is 2 and a half hours long and well worth the money.
8. Head to Zealandia Eco Sanctuary
This is probably my favourite of all the Wellington activities. Zealandia is an eco-sanctuary that is home to rare native species. If you have the chance then go on a guided tour, either by day or night, to learn more about these rare species and how they’re flourishing in this protected sanctuary. You can also visit without doing a guided tour and enjoy the interactive exhibition, walk around the park spotting the animals, or even take a boat ride. Take a free shuttle bus from either the city or the cable car to get here.
For nature and culture there are loads of things to do in Wellington, however there are more Wellington activities to try out such as kayaking at dusk, or a little bit out of town you’ll find Adrenalin Forest.
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