It might be a little on the smaller side compared to places like London or New York, but Wellington certainly packs a big ole’ kiwi punch. There really are loads of best things to do in Wellington scattered all across the city.
Plus, you’re going to love the city as much as the rest of New Zealand. It really is an incredible place to visit.
From its epic scenery to its buzzing cafe culture, the city has loads to offer us, visitors. You won’t be short of finding the best things to do in Wellington, but there are a few spots that you really shouldn’t miss.
Take a look at some of the very best things to do in Wellington.
Best things to do in Wellington
1.) The Beehive
This has to be one of the most unique and interesting parliamentary buildings on the planet, and it’s possibly Wellington’s biggest must-see.
Designed and built between 1964 and 1979, it’s relatively new and has largely divided opinion, which is to be expected really, as it’s definitely not your average official building. After admiring the distinctive shape and perhaps exploring the gardens, take a free tour around the interior.
2.) City Gallery Wellington & Cake
If the lovely exterior of the City Gallery doesn’t tempt you to see the wonders of contemporary art housed inside, I don’t know what will.
This historic building was originally the city library but has been repurposed as one of Wellington’s major art spaces. You can see a number of talks and performances here, as well as both permanent and temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Oh, don’t forget to visit Sweet Release Cakes for some of the tastiest in the city.
3.) Wellington Waterfront
In the very centre of the city, Wellington Waterfront is a gorgeous area to take a break.
It has numerous cafes and restaurants to unwind in, as well as the options of skating, cycling, or taking a boat out onto the water for an impressive view back towards the city.
4.) Old St. Paul’s
Restored and lovingly looked after for many decades, Old St. Paul’s is one of Wellington’s landmark sites to see. It’s a great spot to see some of the 19th Century buildings from the city.
It really is one of the best things to do in Wellington.
5.) The Kelburn Lookout
You can take an antique cable car up to the Kelburn Lookout rather than walking, for an authentic (and much more relaxed) experience.
You really haven’t seen Wellington until you’ve seen the panoramic views from the Kelburn Lookout. The site’s original cable car is also on exhibition in the small museum at the cable car terminal.
6.) Gorge at the Chocolate Fish Cafe
If you’re anything like me you’ll already be scouting out the best spots to eat. I mean, you’re on a holiday after all.
Based on Shelly Bay Road, pretty near Point Halswell Lighthouse, Chocolate Fish Cafe is one of the best spots to grab a big bite. Save up your appetite and gorge on some of the best burgers and ribs in town.
7.) Katherine Mansfield House
It’s a modest dwelling for the woman considered New Zealand’s most well-known author, but the small wooden childhood home of Katherine Mansfield is not to be missed.
It’s a piece of New Zealand’s literary history which has been nicely restored and now operates as a museum of artefacts related both to Mansfield and nineteenth-century history in general.
8.) Wellington Botanic Gardens
You don’t have to be a huge garden fan to enjoy the 25 hectares of the city’s hillside which have been designated as Wellington’s Botanic Gardens.
The area boasts 110 rose beds and numerous other colourful floral displays for visitors to explore. It also contains a planetarium (The Carter Observatory) and a collection of tropical plant species in Begonia House.
If the gardens aren’t enough of a break from the bustle of the city and you really want to get back to nature, Zealandia is the place to go. These 225 hectares of eco-sanctuary are unbelievably only 2 kilometres outside the city centre.
The area is home to a huge host of New Zealand wildlife, so it’s great for a bit of creature-spotting. You might even catch a glimpse of a kiwi bird, or the famous tuatara if you’re lucky.
10.) Colonial Cottage Museum
A sightseeing tour of Wellington wouldn’t be complete without seeing the city’s oldest surviving original cottage. It was built as a family home in the 1850s by William Wallis, and you’ll be surprised how well it’s been preserved.
The house and the original furniture and fittings inside are significant relics of New Zealand’s pioneering era and can be viewed via a guided tour which runs several times a day.
11.) Mount Victoria
When you’ve finished enjoying Wellington close up, head up to Mount Victoria for breathtaking views of the city. It’s definitely worth braving the strong winds on the viewing platform.
Make sure you don’t miss the Byrd Memorial, erected to commemorate Richard Byrd, the American who made the first flight over the South Pole from New Zealand in 1929.
It really is one of the best things to do in Wellington.
12.) Grab a bite at Little Penang
Little Penang is a favourite spot (and possibly the best) to grab some authentic Malaysian food. Make sure to grab an Assam laksa – which is sooooo tasty. You won’t regret it.
13.) Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa)
The national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa is a stunning museum that showcases some the tie-up of culture and places.
Especially between the indigenous population and newer populations that moved to New Zealand. It’s a great place to learn so much more about Pacific cultures.
14.) Catch the Interislander
If you’re hankering for a day outside of the city, pop on board the Interislander where you can visit the South Island and some of its incredible natural landscapes.
Great for a quick day trip but even better if you can stretch your stay to see so much more. A day really isn’t enough.
15.) Cuba Street District
Looking for some buzzing bars or gasping for a tipple or two? Pop over to Cuba street to grab some of the city’s best food joints and local bars.
You’ll even get lots of opportunities to grab some goodies from the independent shops. You’ll love it and it really is one of the best things to do in Wellington – especially for fun.