The patio at Golding's bar located in Te Aro in Wellington, with four tables, twelve stools and eight people sitting enjoying beer and pizza.

A long weekend in Wellington

Wellington is a big little city. It sounds contradictory but the city’s vibe makes it feel much bigger than it is. Its central position in the country makes it convenient to visit from any direction, and its topography condenses much of that activity into a small area. The buzz of a big city is there for the taking — and best of all, you can do much of it on foot. Pack some comfy shoes, go for a walk, and get busy experiencing Wellington on the ultimate long weekend itinerary.

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Friday night 

Once you’ve sorted your accommodation and unpacked it's time to get your bearings. Friday night in Wellington reverberates to the hospitality beat. Bars and restaurants are humming so get in on the action. The city’s craft beer breweries are a great place to start. Many of them have taprooms attached and offer tasty menus. You’ll find yourself eating, sampling the freshest brews, and watching the next one ferment through a window. Fortune Favours on Leeds Street, Heyday Beer Co. on upper Cuba Street and Fork and Brewer on Bond Street all offer that experience. Inner city suburb Aro Valley is a few blocks south from Cuba Street. It’s home to one of Wellington’s best-known breweries, Garage Project. 

If you’re just looking for food then head back to Cuba Street. There is a huge array of dining options from relaxed to fancy. You’ll definitely find something to suit your taste. Go for chilli oil dumplings at Rams Restaurant, burgers at Ekim, beef rendang at Rasa, or Venetian-style tapas at Ombra. 

A smiling server carries a flight of craft beers to a table at Heyday Beer Co, a brewery located on upper Cuba Street in Te Aro, Wellington.


If your mornings usually start with a strong cup of coffee, you’re in luck. Wellington has a reputation as the coffee capital for a reason. The huge number of roasteries and excellent cafés makes for a competitive coffee scene. This means the city's baristas are on their game. The best long black or flat white of your life is around every corner. If you like something more substantial to start your day, head to one of Wellington’s many brunch spots. Enjoy your breakfast with salt in the air at one of the city’s seaside cafés. You can plot the rest of your day while soaking up the harbour scenery. 

After breakfast embrace your inner tourist and ride the historic Wellington Cable Car. The ten-minute ride takes you from Lambton Quay to Wellington Botanic Garden. Its 120+ year history is explained in the Cable Car Museum at the top, a good spot to visit after taking in the scenery at the lookout next door. Panoramic views of the city and harbour always stop people in their tracks. Speaking of tracks, 25 hectares of the Wellington Botanic Garden are spread before you. The manicured gardens contain vast numbers of exotic and native trees. You could easily spend a day exploring but limit yourself so you can fit in Zealandia into your morning as well. From the top of the Cable Car you can catch a free shuttle to the predator-free ecosanctuary. Go for a guided walk with one of the knowledgeable hosts and find out more about the sanctuary’s 500-year vision. 

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Back in the city, spend the afternoon in Cuba Street mooching around the shops. Boutiques sit alongside vintage and retro shops making for an eclectic mix. Heading north along Victoria and Willis Streets to Lambton Quay you’ll find high-end stores and independent boutiques. As dinnertime approaches, Cuba and Ghuznee Streets and the intersecting laneways offer plenty of choice. Mr Go’s is a bustling restaurant serving pan-Asian fare. The Ram offers elevated gastropub classics. Within a block are 1154 and Scopa both doing Italian cuisine proud, and Floridita’s and Liberty offer elevated dining experiences. 

After dinner, see the capital’s famous cultural sector. St James Theatre, The Opera House, and Michael Fowler Centre have packed programmes of live performances and events. Circa Theatre down on the waterfront produces plays all year around and live gigs can be found at San Fran and Meow.


It’s the day to scan the horizon and search the city’s big backyard. Hire a bike, or use your feet and find your wild among Wellington’s regional trails. Within city limits is Red Rocks on the southern coast. Its wild tide brings in fur seals who bask on the rocks. An hour north west, the sweeping Kāpiti Coast offers the adrenaline-inducing Escarpment Track. An hour north east the Wairarapa’s many trails are complimented by wineries. Allow yourself to be sidetracked by the township of Martinborough and its surrounding wine country. This compact village is home to 20 cellar doors. The Runholder is a purpose-built restaurant and services two wineries plus a gin distillery. Up the road Palliser Estate is one of Aotearoa’s notable wine brands. Land that was once used for farming sheep now produces acclaimed wine enjoyed around the world.

Scenic shot looking down at the blue ocean in Lyall Bay Beach on a sunny day.   Suburban housing is shown close to the water. Wellington Harbour is in the background and a seagull is flying in the foreground.


It’s your last day in Wellington, so one last walk around the waterfront is mandatory. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa sits at the southern end of the waterfront. 

Known for its cutting-edge approach to telling the stories of Aotearoa, it’s a treasure-trove of science, history, art, and culture. Its vast collections contain 800,000 artworks, objects, and specimens so you could spend days exploring. Limit yourself to the morning though, otherwise you’ll miss out on witnessing real life movie magic. The suburb of Miramar has an international reputation for movie making and special effects. A trip to Wētā Cave, the Wētā Workshop and its studio tours will have you journeying through 25 years of Academy Award-winning creativity. 

Miramar is a couple of minutes’ drive away from Lyall Bay and the airport. Lyall Bay has a selection of fantastic cafés so there might just be enough time to grab a final coffee at Maranui Café, The Botanist, or Spruce Goose. All of them sit looking out to the southern ocean so you can watch the waves crash and plan your next trip to Wellington.