Your guide to summer in Wellington

Wellington turns on the charm in a big way during summer, which is only natural for a city that sits between a sparkling harbour and lush hills. Although we can’t promise full-on scorching weather every day, we can assure you that your trip to Wellington during the warmer months will be wonderful.

Oriental Bay summer people trees

A wander around the waterfront is mandatory when you’re in Wellington in summer. Follow the flocks of locals down to the harbour, set your direction and stroll. Heading towards Oriental Bay is always a good idea, and you’re bound to pass gelato shops, cafes and bars on your way there. You could continue walking further around the bays, or take it easy and soak up some sun. Kaffee Eis at Franks Kitts Park and Gelissimo at Freyberg are top contenders for the best gelato to eat while people-watching in the shade of a flowering pōhutukawa tree. (If you can’t pick between them, go to both.)

Pack your swimsuit if you fancy a dip on the golden sand beach of Oriental Bay, just a 15 minute walk from the central city. Because of the shelter of the harbour, it’s a relaxed and calm beach that makes for a chilled-out paddle for the whole family. If you’re brave, keep an eye out for the diving boards and spots to jump off peppered around the waterfront. Or attempt to stay slightly drier with a stand up paddle board or kayak - you can hire them from Ferg’s Kayaks, who also offer lessons if you’re a tad unsteady.

WaterFront person jumping into ocean
Crowds at the CubaDupa festival
Heydaybeer outdoor
Couple picnicing at sunset on Mt Victoria

Locals love a walk to the top of Mount Victoria to enjoy the sunset. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s technically a mountain but the walk up will only take you around half an hour, and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and bays. From here you can also wind your way to the Southern Walkway trail and admire the variety of scenery, ranging from views of the harbour and central city to the shade and tranquillity of the Town Belt forest. 

Wellington’s got its fair share of summer events too. If you’re in the city in an even-numbered year, New Zealand Festival hits the city for three glorious weeks. Often compared to Christmas for arts lovers, the festival sees Wellington taken over by the finest local and international acts across every conceivable art form. And at the tail end of summer every March, CubaDupa is an epic street festival that celebrates Wellington’s bohemian, quirky Cuba Street and its surrounds. Expect a dazzling array of pop-up shows and interactive performances all day and night as characters roam the roads and eateries spill out onto the streets.

Top off your Wellington summer experience in some of the city’s finest al fresco eating and drinking spots. Having a gin on the lawn at St John’s or a pint in the park outside Rogue & Vagabond is a must-do, while craft beer bars Fortune Favours and Heyday Beer Co have excellent outdoor spaces, as well as snazzy indoors you can retreat to if things start cooling down.

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