Best things to do for free in Wellington

There are plenty of things to do while you're in Wellington that won't cost a cent, so you can save your money for a gelato on the waterfront afterwards.

Mount Victoria Lookout

Lookout Road, Hataitai, Wellington

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The best way to get your bearings of the city is by checking out the views from the top of Mount Victoria, or Mt Vic, as the locals call it. Rising 196m above the city, the Mount Victoria Lookout has stunning panoramic views of Wellington city, harbour and hills and is part of the Southern Walkway track. You can drive to the top of Mt Vic or walk there via one of the many trails in the Town Belt. Take a picnic with you, settle in on the hillside and relax while watching ferries and cruise ships sail into the harbour and planes fly in and out of the airport. Mt Vic is also one of the best spots in the city for taking in a sunrise or sunset.

Mount Victoria sunset girl image credit luciadelamancha

Wellington Waterfront

Wellington Waterfront Jervois Quay, Wellington

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Wellington’s waterfront is like the city’s backyard, where everyone goes to hang out and do recreational activities. There’s a wide footpath that stretches from the Railway Station around to Oriental Bay and beyond, which is a great place to walk, jog or cycle along. Along the way, you’ll find many public sculptures, park benches and places to stop for a coffee or a gelato. On sunny days, stop by the Taranaki Wharf to watch as swimmers jump off a specially-designed eight-metre-high dive platform.

girl rollerblading on waterfront image credit ben mccallum v2
wellington harbour blue sky water image credit mr.ericsan
family walking on wellington waterfront image credit a joyful shirt

Gallipoli: The scale of our war

55 Cable Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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Explore New Zealand's involvement in WWI at Te Papa's powerful and moving exhibition Gallipoli: The scale of our war. Developed by Te Papa with creative direction from Sir Richard Taylor and amazing craftsmanship by Weta Workshop, this immersive exhibition features incredible larger-than-life 3D models of eight ordinary New Zealanders and tells their personal experience of the horrors they faced during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. Entry to this exhibition is free-of-charge.

Gallipoli Te Papa
Gallipoli - scale of our war exhibition
Gallipoli - Scale of our war exhibition

Parliament Buildings

Molesworth Street, Pipitea, Wellington

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A visit to New Zealand's capital city would not be complete without a visit to the beautifully refurbished Parliament Buildings. Consisting of three architecturally distinctive buildings, there's the Edwardian neo-classical Parliament House, the Victorian Gothic Parliamentary Library and the unique 1970s-style Beehive building.

Free guided tours of Parliament are available each day but need to be booked in advance. You can also book to dine at Bellamy's by Logan Brown, previously exclusively for parliamentarians, this fine dining restaurant at Parliament is now open to the public.

Parliament interior image credit dave.roberts4
Parliament tour image credit sophie handford
Parliament exterior image credit dmytroaranchii
view of government house

Government House tours

51 Hospital Road, Newtown, Wellington

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For more than 100 years, Government House has been home to the Governor-General of New Zealand and is a Category 1 heritage building. The free two-hour tour takes you through the visitor centre, the main house and the gardens (weather pending) where you'll get to explore and learn about the current and historic role of the house, the Governor-General and some of the plaque-worthy guests who have stayed there. Prior bookings are required.

Wellington Botanic Garden

101 Glenmore Street, Kelburn, Wellington

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Beautiful all-year-round, Wellington Botanic Garden features over 26 hectares of stunning views, unique landscapes, exotic forests, native bush, colourful floral displays and specialist gardens.

Visit the Begonia House, a heated glasshouse that's home to lush and colourful tropical plants and stop by the award-winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden which has over 3,000 roses. Follow the Sculpture Trail and discover stunning contemporary sculptures that have been placed around the gardens including a work by Henry Moore. The gardens are open every day and entry is free.

Wellington Botanic Gardens old couple with small child blossoms spring
tulips botanic garden
Botanic Garden Treehouse deck 1
Mt Kaukau Wellington Regional Trails credit Jay French ExpOct2023 skyline kaukau mountain hill track walk hike couple city views gazing ocean water sea
Mountain biking female riding bike through forest with pink shirt
Wellington trails track

Wellington Regional Trails

Whether you're up for an invigorating amble through native bush, a casual weekend wander with your dog, or an uphill ride or climb rewarded by epic views, you'll find all of this and more on Wellington's regional trails.

There are over 200 trails around the region with something for all fitness levels. Check out the Wellington Regional Trails website for guides, maps and all of the information you need to plan your outdoor adventure.

Pataka Art Gallery maori culture artwork

Pātaka Art + Museum

17 Parumoana Street, Porirua, Wellington

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A short drive or train trip from the city, Pātaka Art + Museum is a lively hub of arts and culture in Porirua, one of the most multi-cultural cities in New Zealand. Across multiple galleries, Pātaka shows the best in contemporary Maori, Pacific Island, New Zealand and international art. Enjoy lunch and coffee at Kaizen, a cafe overlooking a traditional Japanese garden, and spend some time at the museum shop, Toi Store, which has a carefully chosen range of art and craft works made by leading New Zealand artists.

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