Unique and Alternative Experiences in Wellington
Done it all before in Wellington? Or are you visiting Wellington for the first time and would rather experience it like a local? Dive into the activities on this list of non-touristy things to do in Wellington! With something new for locals and something alternative for visitors, this list of alternative things to do in Wellington is sure to open your eyes to a different side of New Zealand’s capital.
Don’t forget, you can plan a trip to Wellington according to your unique travel style using The Complete Travel Guide to Wellington. Plus, find a place to stay in The 50 Best Accommodations in Wellington.
1. Tour the Wellington Chocolate Factory
Most tourists stop by a cafe here and there but not many know about the Wellington Chocolate Factory. That’s mainly because this artisan chocolate factory only runs public tours on Saturdays or private tours whenever. Either way, learn how freshly-roasted cacao beans are transformed into artisan chocolates on this tour that also includes tastings! See more experiences like this in the 9 Things to Do in Wellington for Foodies.
Location: 5 Eva Street, Te Aro
2. Wander Around Otari-Wilton’s Bush
Forget the popular Wellington Botanic Garden. If you want to find a non-touristy alternative, then head to Otari-Wilton’s Bush. As New Zealand’s only public garden solely dedicated to New Zealand plants and trees, it’s a great place to learn about the fascinating vegetation of New Zealand. Check out the other 21 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wellington.
Location: Wilton Road, Wilton. Take the Number 14 Wilton Bus from Lambton Quay.
3. Take a Trip to Staglands Wildlife Reserve
Visitors tend to know about Zealandia in Wellington, but only the locals have heard of Staglands Wildlife Reserve. Nestled in the Akatarawa Valley in Upper Hutt, this animal park has family-friendly farmyard animals, as well as native birds as part of conservation programs. There’s also an on-site cafe making it a great place to meet up. Check out details and reviews of Staglands Wildlife Reserve on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 2362 Akatarawa Road, Akatarawa Valley, Upper Hutt.
4. Get Competitive at the Board Game Cafe or Bowling Alley
One that’s especially good for a rainy day in Wellington: locals like to hang out at Wellington’s board game cafes and bowling alleys. Counter Culture has more than 600 board games to enjoy with burgers, sandwiches, sweets and sharing plates. Alternatively, hit the bowling alley at Bowlarama in Newton! See more activities like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Wellington for Couples.
Location: Counter Culture – 211 Victoria Street, Te Aro. Bowlarama – 52 Hall Street, Newtown.
5. Check Out the Wellington Museum
Swap the crowded Te Papa Museum for Wellington’s other free city-centre museum, the Wellington Museum. Learn about the history of the city itself and the local stories through fascinating displays. You might also be interested in the other 12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington.
Location: 3 Jervois Quay, Wellington Central.
6. Visit Somes Island
Another interesting non-touristy thing to do in Wellington is to catch the ferry to Somes Island or “Matiu”. The island has a fascinating history from being an early Maori settlement to a prisoner-of-war camp to a quarantine station. Today, Somes Island is pest-free so the birdlife here is as colourful as the island’s history.
Location: East by West Ferries, Meridian Building, 55 Lady Elizabeth Lane, Queens Wharf, Wellington.
7. Catch a Rugby Game
Definitely one of the non-touristy things to do in Wellington is catching a local rugby game. Wellington’s Sky Stadium is the main sports venue of the city, hosting national games with the local rugby team, the Hurricanes, as well as international games with the All Blacks. Be sure to check out what’s going on there during your trip to Wellington.
Location: 105 Waterloo Quay, Pipitea
8. Walk Up Mt Kaukau
While the touristy thing to do is walk up Mt Victoria close to the city centre, an alternative thing to do in Wellington is the hike up Mt Kaukau. Mt Kaukau is the highest visible mountain in the Wellington city skyline, so naturally, it’s a fun mountain to conquer and get some incredible views! Either do the short version of the walk from either Woodmancote Road or Simla Crescent or go to the mountain as part of the Northern Walkway! Check out more of the 10 Best Walks in Wellington.
Location: Woodmancote Road or Simla Crescent, Khandallah.
9. Watch a Comedy Show
While out-of-towners might flock to Wellington for its live shows to see big names, there are many local grassroot talents to enjoy in Wellington. For instance, there’s always something going on at The Fringe Bar; mostly comedy nights but burlesque to poetry clubs too. The Cavern Club is another venue hosting awesome nightlife entertainment. Check out more evening entertainment in The Guide to Wellington Nightlife.
Location: The Fringe Bar – 26-32 Allen Street, Te Aro. Cavern Club – 22 Allen Street, Te Aro.
10. Relax at the Beach
On a warm sunny day, many locals head down to one of Wellington’s awesome beaches. Whether you want to try out surfing or just feel the sand between your toes, you won’t have to travel far to find a good beach in Wellington. Check out the beach on Oriental Parade within walking distance of the city centre, head to Scorching Bay for a picnic, or walk along Lyall Bay followed by coffee and/or ice cream. For a full list see 10 Beaches in Wellington You Can’t Miss.
Location: Oriental Parade – Oriental Bay. Scorching Bay – Massey Road, Karaka Bay. Lyall Bay – Lyall Parade.
More Unique Things to Do in Wellington
That’s it for our list of non-touristy and unique things to do in Wellington. Now check out some alternative things to do from the following guides: