20 Incredible Things to Do in Wellington© Mike Clare - Wellington NZ
20 Incredible Things to Do in Wellington

25 Best Things to Do in Wellington

© Mike Clare – Wellington NZ
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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The Must-Dos in Wellington

How can you possibly get bored in Wellington? With so many sights, ways to see the city, natural attractions to escape to, awesome places to eat and more, Wellington is a city packed with amazing things to do. Whatever your budget, whatever type of activities you are into, whatever your age, you’re bound to find some fun things to do in Wellington.

The capital city of New Zealand is not just a political hub, it’s also the capital of coffee, movies, culture, craft beer and much more. Sample some of the local delicacies in between exploring the surrounding hills and gardens. Grab a few mates and head down to the local cinema/bowling alley or fuel your hobbies and passions with amazing mountain biking trails, bookstores, art galleries and more! Scroll down for more Wellington must-dos.

Plus, don’t forget to find a place to stay in The 50 Best Accommodations in Wellington.

1. See Native Wildlife at Zealandia

New Zealand is home to a fascinating array of birds and reptiles. Zealandia, easily accessible from Wellington city centre, is the perfect place to learn more about the unique ecosystem of New Zealand with a museum and walkways around this protected wildlife sanctuary. You’re bound to see a heap of amazing birds such as the takahe, kaka, tui, North Island robin and much more! Check out Zealandia on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, for more wildlife activities, see 6 Spots to Experience Wellington Wildlife.

Location: 53 Waiapu Road, Karori. Free shuttle services operate from the Wellington i-SITE.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Visit the Wellington Botanic Garden

One of the best FREE things to do in Wellington is checking out the bush walks, gardens, treehouse, duck pond and free summer gigs at the Wellington Botanic Garden. When you’re wandering through the native bush or gardens of this park, you’ll never believe you are still in the middle of Wellington! For more free activities, see 22 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Wellington.

Location: Entrances off Salamanca Road, Glen Road, Upland Road (Cable Car), Mariri Road and Glenmore Street.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Climb Mt Victoria

Wellington is home to many awesome walks accessible from the city centre. One of the most popular is the walk up Mt Victoria thanks to its sensational panoramic views! A walk up to the top from Oriental Bay or from Majoribanks Street will only take you about 20 minutes. However, to make a day of it, link up with the Southern Walkway for more views of the city! Get more information in our 10 Best Walks in Wellington.

Location: At the eastern end of Courtenay Place, cross Cambridge Terrace and Kent Terrace, walk along Majoribanks Street until you see the sign to the Southern Walkway. Follow the Summit Walkway to the lookout!

20 Incredible Things to Do in Wellington© WellingtonNZ

4. Visit the Film Locations Around Wellington

Wellington is the hub of the movie industry in New Zealand, (and yes, New Zealand has a movie industry). From the filming locations on Mt Victoria used in The Lord of the Rings to the suburb of Miramar packed with movie studios, you can spend all day finding all the noteworthy film attractions. Check out 15 Best Film Locations in Wellington for Movie Buffs to organise your own self-guided tour.

Location: See the link above for specific locations.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Grab a Coffee

They don’t call Wellington the “Coffee Capital” for nothing! New Zealand’s coffee culture is alive in Wellington with so many amazing cafes to try! It’s unlikely that you’ll find a “bad” coffee in Wellington, but if you need inspiration, try the 5 Cool Cafes With the Best Coffee in Wellington.

Location: See the link above for specific locations.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

6. Ride the Cable Car

The historic Wellington Cable Car is a cheap and cheerful thing to do in Wellington! Ride the bright red Cable Car from Lambton Quay all the way up to the Botanic Gardens. At the top of the Cable Car is the free Cable Car Museum within the old wheelhouse.

Location: 280 Lambton Quay.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. Get Active at Adrenalin Forest

This high wire obstacle course provides hours of fun just outside of Wellington city! There are seven courses that get higher and more challenging, starting from 1m (3ft) off the ground to 31m (102ft)! By taking a good few hours to complete, it’s great value for money at around NZ$45 per person. Take the bus, train or drive to Adrenalin Forest just outside of Porirua. Learn more about Adrenalin Forest on Viator and Tripadvisor. Additionally, see more experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do in Wellington with Kids.

Location: Okowai Road, Aotea, Porirua.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Kayak Around the Harbour

Hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) from Fergs Kayaks on the waterfront and see Wellington from a whole new perspective. Either freedom hire or take a guided tour to see the highlights of the Wellington Waterfront and practice your paddling skills! Kayak hire is also available at Days Bay, Lower Hutt at Wildfinderbookable through Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Queens Wharf, Jervois Quay and Days Bay, Lower Hutt.

 Steven dosRemedios on Flickr© Steven dosRemedios on Flickr

9. Grab Some Great Food!

It comes as no surprise that Wellington has some of the finest food in the country. For street food, try the fish & chips from the Wellington Trawling Market on Cuba Street or the Capital Market off Willis Street. For cheap eats, head to Chummeez Cafe on Lambton Quay. For treat-yourself New Zealand traditional food, try the Bluff oysters at the Dockside restaurant. Get more suggestions in The Foodie Guide to Wellington article.

Location: Wellington Trawling Market – 220 Cuba Street. Capital Market – 151 Willis Street. Chummeez Cafe – 134-138 Lambton Quay. Dockside – 3 Queens Wharf.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Take the Ferry to Matiu Somes Island

Somes Island or “Matiu” has a fascinating history from being an early Maori settlement to a prisoner-of-war camp to a quarantine station. Today, the island is rodent-free so the birdlife here is as colourful as the island’s history. Spend at least 2-3 hours exploring the island before getting the ferry back to Queens Wharf in the city centre of Wellington. Guided walks on the island are available on Viator and Tripadvisor.

Location: Queens Wharf.

111 Emergency on Wikipedia© 111 Emergency on Wikipedia

11. Hire a Mountain Bike and Hit the Trails

It’s amazing how many mountain bike trails and scenic bike trails you can access from Wellington city centre alone! However, there are plenty of awesome bike trails further afield, where you can take your bike on the train. Take a look at our guide to Mountain Biking in Wellington for information on most of the bike trails in the region.

Location: See the link above for specific locations.

trailsource.com on Flickr© trailsource.com on Flickr

12. Watch a Movie at a Boutique Cinema

If the weather is not playing ball or you just want to soak in the Wellington movie scene, head to one of the many awesome neighbourhood cinemas, like The Empire in Island Bay, Penthouse Cinema & Cafe in Brooklyn, Light House Cinema in Petone or Roxy Cinema in Miramar. See more indoor activities in the 11 Things to Do in Wellington on a Rainy Day.

Location: The Empire – 214 The Parade, Island Bay. Penthouse Cinema & Cafe – 205 Ohiro Road, Brooklyn. Light House Cinema – 52 Beach Street, Petone. Roxy Cinema – 5 Park Road, Miramar.

Gordon Haws on Wikipedia© Gordon Haws on Wikipedia

13. Go Bookshop-Hopping

Whether you’re a bookworm or just want to pick up some good reads for the road, don’t miss Wellington’s amazing selection of bookshops. Wander the labyrinth-like rooms of Pegasus at the Cuba Mall or buy some cheap reads at Arty Bees Bookshop on Manners Street. Get a full list of bookshops and their locations over at 10 Wonderful Wellington Bookshops for Bookworms.

Location: See the link above for specific locations.

Max Pixel© Max Pixel

14. Take a Walk Through the Otari-Wilton’s Bush

This is New Zealand’s only public garden solely dedicated to New Zealand plants and trees. Otari-Wilton’s Bush is a great place to learn about the fascinating vegetation of New Zealand, as well as getting a little closer to nature. See more endearing places like this in the 10 Romantic Activities in Wellington for Couples.

Location: Wilton Road, Wilton. Take the Number 14 Wilton Bus from Lambton Quay.

Akos Kokai on Wikipedia© Akos Kokai on Wikipedia

15. Try Some Local Craft Beer

New Zealand, and Wellington, in particular, is crazy about making home brews! Try some of the country’s leading craft beer in the Wellington craft beer bars and breweries around the city! See 14 Breweries & Craft Beer Bars in Wellington for recommendations and locations. Plus, check out the 9 Things to Do in Wellington for Foodies for similar activities.

Location: See the link above for specific locations.

© NZPocketGuide.com

16. Visit Space Place (The Carter Observatory)

Get a little closer to the stars through Space Place‘s historic Thomas Cooke telescope, planetarium and more! Learn about the stars, galaxies and planets seen from the Southern Hemisphere through interactive exhibitions and displays, as well as the planetarium shows. On clear nights, you can look through the giant telescope. Space Place is open Tuesdays, Fridays and weekends, and all week during school holidays.

Location: 40 Salamanca Road, Kelburn (Wellington Botanic Garden).

Gruyere on Wikipedia© Gruyere on Wikipedia

17. Visit the Te Papa Museum

New Zealand’s national museum provides hours of entertainment through interactive exhibitions and displays. Learn about many different aspects of life in New Zealand, as well as the social and natural history of this country. For more reasons to visit, see 10 Reasons Why The Te Papa Museum is Simply Unmissable.

Location: 55 Cable Street.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ

18. Explore the Greater Wellington Region!

Wellington is more than just the city centre, so take the bus, hop on the train, or hit the road to one of the amazing surrounding regions. Head to the Hutt Valley for great bike trails and walks along the Hutt River. Go to the Kapiti Coast for over 40km of beaches! Or head on over to the Wairarapa region known for vineyards and wineries.

Location: See the links above for recommendations on locations to visit.

DB Thats-Me on Wikipedia© DB Thats-Me on Wikipedia

19. Go to the Beach

Wellington has a good amount of beaches to feel the sand between your toes, go for a swim or even surf! Oriental Bay is a beach just a short walk from the city. Lyall Bay is a great surf spot and place for “long walks on the beach”. Scorching Bay is a good spot for a picnic! Find out more about the beaches you can visit in 10 Beaches in Wellington You Can’t Miss.

Location: See specific locations in the link above.

Phillip Capper on Flickr© Phillip Capper on Flickr

20. Challenge Your Mates to Bowling

Although you might find bowling in any old city, it is a great thing to do on an evening when the weather is not that great or you just want to have a good old time with your mates. The Lanes bowling and bar is right in the city centre and makes for an affordable night. Check out more activities like this in The Guide to Wellington Nightlife.

Location: 234/238 Wakefield Street.

Pxhere© Pxhere

21. Ride the Remutaka Cycle Trail

Hire a bike for 2-3 days and follow the Remutaka Cycle Trail starting in Wellington Harbour and finishing in the Turakirae Head, home to a colony of 500 fur seals! It’s worth noting that the trail is one way, so be prepared to bike it back or sort out return transportation. Find out more in our 10 Great Bike Trails on the North Island.

Location: The trail can be started from Petone Foreshore or Maymorn in Upper Hutt.

10 Wellington Must-Dos© NZPocketGuide.com

22. Experience Movie Magic at the Weta Cave and Workshop

Any Lord of the Rings tour in Wellington will include a visit to the Weta Workshop Studio amongst many other Middle-earth locations around the area. For the money-savers out there, the Weta Cave is free to visit and the Workshop Tour is under NZ$30. Find out more about the tour on Viator and Tripadvisor. Additionally, check out the Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Wellington.

Location: 1 Weka Street, Miramar.

© Tourism NZ

23. Watch a Rugby Game

The Sky Stadium hosts regular rugby games the place to see the local rugby union team, the Wellington Hurricanes. Welly is also a regular host of the Sevens, a huge rugby tournament where supporters wear costumes and parties well past the end of the game.

Location: 105 Waterloo Quay.

© Tourism NZ

24. Tour the Parliament Building

The beehive-shaped building houses the most ferocious animal of the country, the politician! This is where New Zealanders discuss and pass bills; this is where our country is run. Tours are free and run seven days a week, so no excuses!

Location: Molesworth Street.

20 Best Things to Do in Wellington© Unsplash

25. Have a Welly Night Out!

Wellington comes alive at night! The vibrant nightlife features great live performances in many bars, along with fun-loving individuals that love meeting new people. Check out the bar scene in our “Awesome Bars in Wellington” article.

Location: See specific locations in the link above.

10 Wellington Must-Dos© WellingtonNZ

More Must-Dos and Things to Do in Wellington

That’s it for the best things to do in Wellington. Find more activities on your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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