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Wellington outdoor recreation, sports & parks

It’s easy to live close to nature in Wellington, even if you’re based in an apartment in town. We've got heaps of natural spaces to explore, all easily reached from the city. It’s one of those ‘best of both worlds’ scenarios. We recommend not spending too much time figuring out how we got so lucky. Better just to get outside and enjoy it. It’s more fun that way.

The green belt

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Back in the early days of Wellington, the city fathers were wise enough to set aside a large amount of bush clad hillside behind the city for the enjoyment of the people. Nowadays the Town Belt (as it’s called) is threaded with walking and mountain biking tracks that make lunchtime exercise or a weekend wander nice and easy.

There’s plenty of it – if everyone in Wellington went up into the Town Belt we’d still have ten square metres each. We tend to take turns, though, so there’s even more room to relax.

Mt Victoria is a good place to start your exploring the Town Belt, and from there you’ll soon find your favourite spots and pathways. Our top places to watch the sun rise page has other great destination suggestions for a town belt walk.

One part of the Town Belt was especially well looked after and developed into the Wellington Botanic Garden, home to a mix of native plants, exotics, flower beds and the Lady Norwood Rose Garden.

Across the city there’s more than 100 parks, playgrounds and reserves. The city council can tell you where they all are, or, if you’d rather have a recommendation, check out our Top 10  Wellington playgrounds.

Our favourite outdoor space in the city is undoubtedly the Wellington waterfront. Every day you’ll see people walking or jogging along the frontage, relaxing on the grass in its parks, or sitting in the harbourside bars and cafes. It’s the perfect place for lunch in the sun. What’s more, if you need to go from one end of the CBD to the other, the waterfront is both the short cut – and the scenic route!

The blue belt

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Our sparkling harbour is popular for getting on, under and next to. You may be surprised at the number of golden sand beaches close to the city. In summer Wellingtonians flock to Scorching Bay, Island Bay, Days Bay and Oriental Bay (just a short walk from the waterfront), but there are many other smaller, secluded beaches dotted around the coastline.

Watersports of all kinds, from surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing to kayaking, scuba diving and more are all easily accessible.

Boaties can enjoy sailing, fishing or cruising from one of the four marinas on the harbour, or the many boatramps around the harbour and southern coast.

Meet the wildlife

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We love our animals in Wellington, too. Zealandia is a world-class eco sanctuary with a centuries-long project that is returning a suburban valley to a pre-human natural state. You can meet rare native wildlife like tuatara, kaka and takahe as you stroll through the beautiful surroundings.

In Wellington we are also lucky enough to get to enjoy the sight and sound of some rather special birds. The sanctuaries we have here not only provide safe places for them to live but also give you the chance to see them in the regions's unique environment for yourself! Find out where you are most likely to meet these creatures here.

Wellington Zoo aims to be ‘the best little zoo in the world’, and they’re doing a great job. Popular favourites like lions, chimps and giraffes are on display, along with around 100 other species, including sun bears, red panda, tamarins, baboons and Tasmanian devils.

You can book a Close Encounter for an unforgettable experience, visit the native bird facility, or The Nest, the zoo’s unique veterinarian hospital, where windows let you watch zoo vets performing procedures on the animals, while they talk you through what they’re doing over microphones.

You can also visit the region’s offshore nature reserves, on Kapiti and Matiu-Somes Islands.

Find out what native wildlife you might encounter while you explore Wellington's great outdoors. 

Sport & fitness

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Like most Kiwis, Wellingtonians love to watch and play all kinds of organised sport.

The most popular are rugby, netball, cricket and football. Visit the pages for each to find out how you can get behind our local professionals, and join a club to play.

Every year, the Wellington Marathon and Round the Bays fun run let locals and visitors come together to pound the pavements alongside the harbour. The waterfront is a popular and attractive jogging course all year round.

With a relatively flat central city, with hills surrounding, cycling is popular in Wellington. Whether it be a quick commute to work, or mountain biking after work or on weekends, you'll see many people riding.

Golf is also popular, particularly if you’re ready for sport at a more leisurely pace. Wellington has a number of easily accessible golf clubs, as well as the prestigious Royal Wellington Golf Club, which offers a world-class golfing experience.

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