Best Things To Do in Wellington
Travelers to Wellington won't be short on things to do. Whether you want to laze around Oriental Bay Beach or learn something new at the Museum of New Zealand, there is something for everyone in Wellington. You can also stop and literally smell the roses at the Wellington Botanic Garden. And for an overview of the entire city, travelers can hop aboard the Wellington Cable Car or ascend the Mount Victoria Lookout.
Updated July 29, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in WellingtonMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Museum of New Zealand – which also goes by its Maori name, Te Papa Tongarewa, translated as "Container of Treasures" – is just that: a beautiful modern building filled with artifacts and art by predominantly New Zealand artists that piece together both the natural and anthropological history of the country. Of special note are the museum's collections of 20th-century New Zealand paintings and its early New Zealand photography. But its historic collections, including textiles that date back to the 18th century, its Maori tribal carvings and its taxonomic preservation of New Zealand's flora and fauna, are also must-sees.
Many recent visitors said the museum offers something for everyone, whether young or old, local or tourist. The museum restaurants, restrooms and souvenir shops earn high praise as well.
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The Wellington Botanic Garden spans 60-some acres, fanning out north of Wellington's central business district. The gardens are filled with everything from cacti and roses to tulips and magnolias. Plus, there are gorgeous, wide trails that weave throughout the property, making the experience of viewing all of the flowers, plants and trees even more enjoyable. The on-site cafe is also a great place for a coffee or lunch, according to some recent travelers.
Previous visitors offered favorable reviews of the small but breathtaking Wellington Botanic Garden. Not only did travelers find the flora spectacular, they also appreciated the exercise the many trails afforded them. If you're a fan of tulips, past visitors suggest arriving in September when these vivid plants are in bloom.
- #3View all Photos#3 in WellingtonBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Oriental Bay Beach is Wellington's most popular beach, mostly because it's so close to central Wellington and features a pristine promenade. Even if it's too cold or windy to swim, travelers can enjoy sinking their toes in the sand or simply take in the view from the nearby Boat Café.
Recent visitors appreciated how "tucked away" this beach feels, even though it's just a short distance from downtown Wellington. They also enjoyed the beach's proximity to restaurants and cafes. What's more, reviewers praised its kid-friendly waters and relaxing atmosphere.
- #4View all Photos#4 in WellingtonFree, Hiking, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDFree, Hiking, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Every great city needs a great lookout – and Mount Victoria, which rises more than 640 feet above sea level, is the place to find that awe-inspiring, panoramic view of Wellington and its surrounds. Once you reach the summit, which you can drive or hike up year-round, you'll enjoy an awesome vista of the city, the harbor, and the rolling hills and valleys that wrap around Wellington.
Recent visitors recommend hiking up the Mount Victoria Lookout on a nice day, since the summit will leave you exposed to the elements. Most said that although there are a few steep portions of the trail, the views at the top are worth the exertion. Travelers are divided on the best time to enjoy Mount Victoria: Some said the quiet morning is the best, while others suggest arriving late in the day to watch the sun set here.
- #5View all Photos#5 in WellingtonMuseums, Recreation, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Recreation, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
ZEALANDIA Sanctuary, established in 1999, is the world's first fenced urban ecosanctuary. Spanning more than 500 acres, ZEALANDIA aims to preserve Wellington's valleys, forests and freshwater and restore them to their natural state. Since opening, the sanctuary has reintroduced 18 species of wildlife back into area. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through the preserved and protected ecosystem, catching glimpses of rare species, such as saddlebacks and stitchbirds, along the way.
Many described this sanctuary as a magical place found just a stone's throw from the city. Some highly recommend splurging for a guided tour, as the passionate guides bring the sanctuary to life.
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The century-old Wellington Cable Car is a great way to get an overview of the city, as it runs from Lambton Quay in downtown Wellington up to Kelburn. It's also a scenic way to reach top attractions, such as the Wellington Botanic Garden and ZEALANDIA Sanctuary. There are five stops along the cable car route. At the top, visitors will be treated to a viewing platform, the free Cable Car Museum and a small cafe.
Some say that although the views are magnificent, the swarms of tourists temper the atmosphere. To that end, others recommend avoiding days and times when the cruise ships come to shore, since the crowds are heavier during these periods.
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