The Complete Family Guide to Wellington
Welcome to New Zealand’s capital city! Wellington is arguably one of the most family-friendly cities in New Zealand, thanks to its array of amazing outdoor spaces, from the Botanic Gardens to the beaches, as well as its educational museums. There are even a few attractions that are just plain fun, such as a high-wire obstacle course in the trees and meeting farm animals at a wildlife reserve. We’ll go through all the details, as well as where to stay in Wellington, in this guide to Wellington for families.
10 Things to Do in Wellington with Kids
- See the birds at Zealandia
- Get educated at the Te Papa Museum
- Get active on the high-wire obstacle course at Adrenalin Forest
- Spend the day at one of Wellington’s beaches
- See how the movies are made at the Weta Workshop
- Enjoy some family bonding time at the bowling alley or the cinema
- Visit the Wellington Museum
- Learn about space at Space Place
- Meet the animals at Staglands Wildlife Reserve
- Feed the ducks at the Wellington Botanic Gardens
Find out more about each activity in our 10 Things to Do in Wellington for Kids.
Outdoor Family Activities in Wellington
Fresh air is essential to a family getaway! Here are a few ideas of how you can enjoy your time in Wellington in the great outdoors.
First up, hit the beach! Yes, even in the city you can enjoy a day at the beach with the kids. Oriental Bay is your closest beach to the city centre, which can be walked to by following the coast from the Te Papa Museum. The beach is a safe swimming beach for families. Alternatively, Shelly Beach in Miramar is a nice sandy beach backed by cafes to pick up an ice cream. Find more beaches and check out their locations in 10 Beaches in Wellington You Can’t Miss.
Animal-lovers, take a special trip to the Akatarawa Valley to check out the Staglands Wildlife Reserve. This animal park has a wealth of farmyard animals for the kids to meet, as well as native birds as part of conservation programs. There’s also an on-site cafe for families to meet and enjoy homemade treats and lunches to fuel your family for the day. Check out details and reviews of Staglands Wildlife Reserve on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, see more things to do in the area in 11 Excellent Things to Do in the Hutt Valley.
For active families, Adrenalin Forest is a must! This high wire obstacle course provides hours of fun just outside of Wellington city, providing great value for money with adult tickets being under NZ$50 and kids being under NZ$30! There are seven courses running through the forest, starting from 1m (3ft) off the ground to 31m (102ft)! Kids need to be over 1.45m (4.7ft) to participate. Find Adrenalin Forest just outside of Porirua – more details can be found on Viator and Tripadvisor. For more things to do in the area, see 10 Fun Things to Do in Porirua.
Indoor Family Activities in Wellington
Especially in Wellington, the weather doesn’t always play ball. Here are a few all-weather activities that you can rely on.
An affordable attraction for the whole family, Space Place allows visitors to learn more about the night’s sky at the Carter Observatory. It’s also one of the rare attractions to take advantage of in an evening. The museum has interactive exhibits, while the full-dome planetarium is an awesome way to learn about the planets, constellations and galaxies. Note that Space Place is only open during New Zealand school holidays.
Needless to say, you’ve probably enjoyed a few family trips to the cinema or enjoy watching movies at home. Discover how they are made at the Weta Workshop! The Weta Workshop offers a number of interesting indoor tours, from looking at props and special effects from movies such as The Lord of the Rings and Independence Day and new movies they are working on. A better option for kids, however, is the Thunderbirds Are Go! tour where you’ll see how filmmakers turn everyday household items into incredible miniature universes. The Weta Workshop also has kids programmes throughout the New Zealand school holidays. Find out more about the Weta Workshop on Viator and Tripadvisor.
And if you’re just craving some family bonding time, then there are plenty of indoor activities that you would expect in many cities. Challenge each other at the lanes of Bowlarama in Newtown. The bowling alley has 12 fully-electronic lanes with kiddy bumpers. Alternatively, relax and watch a movie at The Embassy Cinema on Courtenay Place.
Cultural/Educational Activities for Kids
Naturally, Wellington’s family-friendly attractions just happen to also be educational. Here are a few more ideas for your kids to learn something while having fun.
If you know anything about Wellington then you’ve probably heard about the Te Papa Museum. This fun and free museum is the national museum of New Zealand showcasing everything from its history to its volcanoes to the flora and fauna. This city centre museum will have you and your tribe entertained for at least a couple of hours so make sure you leave enough time!
Another fantastic free museum is the Wellington Museum, also in the city centre. The museum shares stories of the region within its heritage building. Kids get to enjoy pretending they are playing on the shorefronts of Wellington in the 1800s, while The Attic is a place of intrigue with exhibitions about “Steampunk” inventions, Maori art and more. See more museums in the area in 12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington.
Finally, travellers of all ages should add Zealandia to their itinerary! Easily accessible from Wellington’s city centre thanks to free shuttles or an easy drive, Zealandia is an eco-haven for native New Zealand birds. It’s one of the best places in New Zealand to learn about the country’s natural ecosystem through its interactive museum. The haven has a network of easy walking trails for the whole family and for strollers, where feeding stations make sightings of takahe, kaka, tui, North Island robin and more, a common occurrence. Learn more about Zealandia on Viator and Tripadvisor.