Surrounded by nature and fuelled by creative energy, New Zealand's capital city is a compact city with a compelling mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine
Thanks to the compact geography of New Zealand’s capital city, you can see and do a lot in a day.
Wander through hidden laneways and discover world-class coffee and craft beer, experience Te Papa’s interactive museum magic, go behind the scenes at Wētā Workshop to see props from Sir Peter Jackson’s award-winning Lord of the Ring trilogy and Hobbit movies, and still have time for shopping and dinner at one of Wellington’s fabulous eateries.
The best way to explore Wellington is on foot. The CBD is only two kilometres wide, so you can walk from one side to the other in under 30 minutes, via the waterfront or Lambton Quay. All major attractions are within walking distance or have shuttle transport. Wellington International Airport is a 15-minute drive from the heart of the city.
Arts & culture
Wellington is New Zealand's arts and culture capital. Home to national performing arts companies including the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, around 50 galleries and with colourful street art and sculptures dotted around the city, Wellington is a feast for the eyes.
Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) is also where you'll find Aotearoa's national museum, Te Papa, known for cutting-edge interactive displays. Visit He Tohu to see New Zealand’s founding documents and learn about Wellington's history at the Wellington Museum, Petone Settlers Museum, Cable Car Museum or take a free tour of New Zealand’s Parliament buildings.
Nature on our doorstep
Surrounded by hills and a beautiful sparkling harbour, Wellington has a wide range of easily accessible nature. Visit Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne the ecosanctuary named by Time magazine in their top 100 places in the world. Just a ten-minute drive from the city, Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne offers a chance to see and hear native birds in a native bush setting that feels like going back in time.
Visit Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre in the Wairarapa to learn more about Tangata Whenua (local Māori) and conservation efforts to protect native wildlife or take a boat across to Kāpiti Island to spot rare wildlife and experience legendary hospitality and storytelling from the kaitiaki (guardians) of this precious place.
…the best part of Wellington is that everything is a ten-minute walk away from wherever you are. And that ten-minute walk will be injected with fashion, film, food and coffee
Eating and drinking
Wellington is New Zealand’s culinary capital where all tastes are catered for. Casual dining is our specialty, with a wide range of restaurants serving some of Aotearoa's top cuisine in a laidback, yet professional setting. Cocktails are a speciality and you can't leave town without trying our local craft beer.
Wellington’s nightlife is centred around Courtenay Place and Cuba Street. Find stylish cocktail bars hidden up stairs and down laneways. The entertainment district of Courtenay Place is lined with dance clubs, pubs and bars and live music is best found on Cuba Street.
Wellington hotel occupancy is usually low from mid-December to early February due to reduced corporate travel. With new rooms being built, Wellington is well placed to help with high season demand. The city hosts lots of events and conferences year-round, so it always pays to book ahead.
Hotels are located in the downtown area with international brands including InterContinental Wellington (IHG), DoubleTree by Hilton, Copthorne (MCK), Grand Chancellor and Accor hotels including Sofitel, Novotel, Grand Mercure and Ibis.
Wellington has rooms for all budgets and tastes, including apartments with kitchen and laundry facilities and great backpackers. Wairarapa and Kāpiti Coast regions offer excellent camping grounds, B&Bs, vineyard stays and outstanding luxury lodges.
A perfect day in Wellington
0900 – 1130 Get your bearings on a half-day sightseeing tour. Film fans can see some movie-making magic on Wētā Workshop’s There and Back Again: The Full Experience tour or a city sightseeing tour will give you a great view of Wellington.
1130 – 1530 Take the free shuttle from the i-SITE to Zealandia for lunch at Rata Café. Then explore the award-winning ecosanctuary and learn a little more about New Zealand’s unique environment.
1530 – 1700 Look around Wellington Botanic Garden and over the city from Wellington Cable Car Lookout and then ride the Cable Car back to the shopping district to browse Wellington’s retail boutiques.
1700 – 1800 Visit Te Papa - make the most of your time by taking the daily Twilight Guided Experience.
1800 – LATE End your day with dinner in a top local restaurant or watch a show at one of the city’s top venues.
Remember, one night in Wellington is never enough!
If you want to include a film location tour, visit Space Place, ride the Crocodile Bikes, visit the seal colony or tour New Zealand’s Parliament buildings, you’ll need an extra day! Explore more itinerary suggestions here.
Wellington's wine country
Just over an hour’s drive (self-drive visitors can take the scenic Classic New Zealand Wine Trail along SH2) or train ride from Wellington is the wine-making region of the Wairarapa. Blending country charm with luxury retreats, award-winning vineyards, stunning scenery and boutique shopping, some highlights include:
- Sampling wine and enjoying a platter at Martinborough vineyards and restaurants including Poppies, Palliser, Moy Hall and Cambridge Road.
- Cycling the vines
- Boutique shopping in Greytown
- Try local food – olives, cheese, bread, chocolate and beer