How to Spend 24 Hours in Wellington and See the Best Sights on Foot
If you’re a traveller that likes to make every moment count on your trip, then this Wellington city itinerary is for you! While you might not have time to spend more than one day in Wellington, you can still see all the major Wellington city centre highlights by following this one day in Wellington itinerary. What’s more, all these sights can be seen on foot and all the activities listed are either free or extremely cheap!
This walking tour itinerary of Wellington in one day will take you on a loop walk around the city starting and ending at Te Papa Museum. The itinerary mixes a culture, food, scenery and more. However, if you do have more time in Wellington, be sure to check out our 10 Wellington Must-Dos or visit some more museums using our list of 12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington. Plus, find a place to stay in The 50 Best Accommodations in Wellington.
Sights of this One Day in Wellington City itinerary
Here, we’ll breakdown the sights you will be seeing on this one day in Wellington itinerary.
- Te Papa Museum – New Zealand’s national museum
- Oriental Parade – A popular and picturesque seaside suburb
- Mt Victoria – Capture the best views of the city
- Courtenay Place & Cuba Street – The two main streets of Wellington packed with great shops and eateries
- The Beehive – New Zealand Parliament Buildings have interesting architecture and free guided tours
- Wellington Botanic Garden – Step into nature with bush walks, gardens and more
- Cable Car – Take the iconic and historic Cable Car back into the city
- Wellington Waterfront – A great place to take a walk, see the city sculptures, and return to Te Papa Museum.
Start at the Te Papa Museum
A great place to start one day in Wellington city is at Te Papa Museum. Not only is it surrounded by car parks, great if you have your own vehicle, but Te Papa is pretty central, making it easy to get to from most city centre accommodations, bus stop and train station.
Get a great insight into New Zealand’s social and natural history at Te Papa Museum. This bold and innovative museum is packed with interactive exhibitions. Plus, entry is free! The museum is open 10am-6pm (9pm on Thursdays). Learn more about it in our 10 Reasons Why The Te Papa Museum is Simply Unmissable.
Walk Along Oriental Parade
From Te Papa, walk east along the waterfront for about 10 minutes and you’ll reach the sandy shores of Oriental Parade. Look out to sea and luckily you’ll see the water fountain in action just off the coast.
Oriental Parade is also a good place to grab a coffee or a bite to eat at one of the cafes, which are a little less busy than those in the city centre of Wellington. It will also fuel you for the next part of our Wellington walking tour itinerary!
Climb Mt Victoria
Mt Victoria offers amazing panoramic views of the city. Plus, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, Mt Victoria was one of the filming locations. Check out exactly where in our Guide to The Lord of the Rings in Wellington.
From Oriental Parade, take Oriental Terrace all the way to the end where you’ll find a short winding uphill footpath through the trees. This leads onto Moeller Street which you continue following until you see the signs for the Mt Victoria Lookout Walkway & the Southern Walkway. From here, it will take you about 25 minutes walk to reach the lookout!
Discover Courtenay Place and Cuba Street
Next stop is the bustling city centre streets of Wellington City packed with bars, eateries, cafes and more! It’s a great place to stop for lunch and get a sense for the Wellington city culture.
From Mt Victoria, walk down the Lookout Walkway and instead of heading back down toward Oriental Parade, make your way toward Majoribanks Street. Following Majoribanks Street all the way west will lead you onto Courtenay Place. Look out for the sci-fi sculpture called Tripod at the entrance of Courtenay Place, made by Wellington’s own movie special effects and props team, Weta Workshop.
At the western end of Courtenay Place, either turn on Dixon Street or Manners Street and you will quickly meet up with Wellington’s quirky Cuba Street. Head south on Cuba Street to see the Bucket Fountain, an interesting piece of kinetic art. There are lots of alternative shops and eateries along this street so enjoy! Check out our Cheap Eats in Wellington for the best value-for-money restaurants.
Check Out the Beehive and New Zealand Parliament Buildings
The New Zealand Parliament Buildings and The Beehive are among some of the most impressive architecture in Wellington, so it’s at least worth seeing the buildings from the outside. If you do have time, take the free New Zealand Parliament Tour to learn more about the New Zealand government! Guided tours run every hour.
To get to the Beehive from Cuba Street, make your way to The Terrace, a street that runs parallel to Cuba Street on the west side. Follow the Terrace all the way north and you won’t miss The Beehive! The walk is about 20-25 minutes.
Wander the Botanic Garden
Over 26ha (64 acres) of unsurpassed views and a mix of native and exotic forests lies with the Wellington Botanic Garden. Discover bush walks that will make you question whether you are still in a city, walk through rose gardens, visit the duck pond and more! Maps are at all the main entrances to the Botanic Garden so pick one up and go where ever takes your fancy! Make your final Botanic Garden destination the Cable Car!
From The Beehive, backtrack down The Terrace then turn down Bolton Street, which will take you about 10 minutes to walk to the edge of the Botanic Garden.
Take the Cable Car
Probably the most iconic thing to do in Wellington City is to take the historic Cable Car! Enjoy the views as you make your way back down into the city. Rides depart every 10 minutes costing around NZ$9 one way.
If you have time before making your way down the Cable Car, check out the free Cable Car Museum at the top of the Cable Car. It’s a small but fascinating museum inside an old cable car wheelhouse. The Cable Car will take you back into Wellington City on Lambton Quay, which is a popular shopping district of the city.
Walk the Wellington Waterfront
To complete your loop of Wellington City and return to Te Papa Museum, walk via the Wellington Waterfront. Look out for art and sculptures along the way, like quotes etched in stone and hidden in different places. The Wellington Waterfront Walk is the scenic way to return back to Te Papa, which you will see the back of the museum building after just a 5-10 minute walk heading southeast on the waterfront.
There are many access roads from Lambton Quay to the Wellington Waterfront, just head towards the water!
And there you have it, your one day in Wellington walking tour itinerary is complete!