Where to See Wildlife in Wellington
Predator-free sanctuaries, bushy terrain full of birds, coasts teeming with life… Wellington is a great place to experience some of New Zealand’s most fascinating wildlife. It only makes sense that the capital city of the nature-filled land of New Zealand has some amazing wildlife experiences of its own. We’ll go through the best Wellington wildlife experiences in this article, both free experiences and paid experiences.
In between checking out the birds, lizards and marine wildlife of Wellington, don’t miss the 10 Wellington Must-Dos. And find a place to stay in one of the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Wellington City or 10 Best Hotels in Wellington.
1. Red Rocks
Who doesn’t love a free wildlife experience? Walk the Red Rocks Walkway to see New Zealand fur seals between April and October. This 40-minute walk along the rugged coastline is packed with geological oddities and pebble beaches making for an awesome day out on the coast. Remember to give the seal plenty of space! See here for more beaches to check out in Wellington.
Location: Red Rocks Reserve, Owhiro Bay. To get there by bus, take the Number 1 bus to Island Bay. Get off at the last stop and walk about 2km (1.2 miles) via Owhiro Bay Parade to the start of the Red Rocks Walkway.
This wildlife sanctuary is a stone’s throw away from the city centre. In fact, there are free shuttles from the i-SITE to Zealandia so there is no excuse! Check out this bird haven protected by a predator-proof fence. Walkways around the forest past various feeding stations give you opportunities to see tui, North Island kaka, North Island robin, bellbird, takahe and more! Plus, the museum is a great place to learn more about the fascinating eco-system of New Zealand. Find out more about Zealandia on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 10 minutes drive from Wellington City. 53 Waiapu Road, Karori. Free shuttles available from the Wellington i-SITE.
3. Cape Palliser
It might be a bit of a mission to get to, especially if you are coming from Wellington City, but Cape Palliser is definitely worth the road trip! Not only can you get breathtaking views from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse, but the road to the lighthouse is also home to a seal colony! Again, it’s a free wildlife experience in Wellington, but please give the seals plenty of space.
Location: 2h30min drive from Wellington City. Cape Palliser is at the very south of the Wairarapa district.
4. Staglands Wildlife Reserve
For everyone’s favourite farm animals mixed with some native bird conservation, check out the Staglands Wildlife Reserve in Upper Hutt. It’s a great option for families and nature-lovers alike! Check out Viator and Tripadvisor for more information on Staglands Wildlife Reserve. For more things to do in the area, don’t miss our 11 Things to Do in the Hutt Valley.
Location: 2362 Akatarawa Road, Upper Hutt. One hour drive from Wellington City. Take State Highway 2 to Upper Hutt and follow Akatarawa Road.
5. Kapiti Island
Catch a ferry or tour from Paraparaumu to Kapiti Island and explore this island sanctuary known for its population of kiwi, North Island kaka, hihi, tui and much more! It’s a bird-lovers’ paradise. Either take a guided tour with Kapiti Eco (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)and Kapiti Island Nature Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor), stay overnight to spot some kiwi, or take a self-guided tour on the numerous walking trails ranging from 5 minutes to 2 hours. It’s one of the must-dos on the Kapiti Coast!
Location: Paraparaumu is about 1-hour drive from Wellington City following State High way 1. Boat access to the island is via Kapiti Boating Club, 1 Manly Road, Paraparaumu Beach.
6. Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre
See some of New Zealand’s most fascinating wildlife at the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre. Tuatara (the three-eyed lizard), kaka, takahe and even a rare white kiwi bird reside in the wildlife centre as part of conservation work. Watch daily kaka and eel feedings, as well as bush walks. Check out Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre on Viator and Tripadvisor. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Wellington with Kids.
Location: 1h50min drive from Wellington City. Mount Bruce, Wairarapa.