What to do in Wellington

October 17, 2011 in New Zealand,Places

I wasn’t sure what to expect heading to Wellington. I booked the trip on a whim: a sorority friend was living there, the USA was playing Australia in the Rugby World Cup on a Friday night, and the plane ticket was cheaper than going to the other side of Australia.

Christine Amorose & Amber Bartholomew in Wellington, New Zealand

The main reason for my trip was to see my friend, but I quickly realized that there was plenty to see and do in Wellington. Amanda of A Dangerous Business, a travel blogger friend who studied in Wellington, was a great resource for what I couldn’t miss in the coolest little capital in the world.

Cuba Street on a sunny day in Wellington, New Zealand

Stroll down Cuba Street: Lined with art galleries, restaurants and shops, Cuba Street is one of the liveliest streets in Wellington. There’s a lovely pedestrian zone with sidewalk cafes, art installations, playgrounds and shade trees over benches. It’s the perfect spot to while away an afternoon: poke into a few shops, drink a few coffees, watch the world pass you by.

Teenage boy swimmers on the Wellington waterfront harbour, New Zealand

Soak up the Wellington waterfront: The Wellington waterfront is one of the city’s sparkling attributes: skies that seem almost too blue stretch above glittering turquoise water. You can rent a pair of rollerblades, enjoy an ice cream or even do a backflip off a diving board into the water. On a sunny day, there’s no better place to read a book, write a postcard or sip a beer.

View from the Wellington cable car, New Zealand

Ride the cable car: The cable car ride is fun in itself, but the real joy comes from the view. Perched above the city centre and the waterfront, the station is located at the entrance of the Wellington Botanic Gardens. Before or after you go for a ride, take a wander through the gardens and explore the Wellington Cable Car Museum. You can take a seat on one of the original red trams and watch some excellent historic clips of the commute in the early 20th century.

Kiwi dancers doing the haka at Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand

Experience Te Papa:  Te Papa is the museum for all things Kiwi: one part history, one part science, one part culture. There are great exhibits on Maori tattooing, the white invasion, earthquakes–and the world’s largest squid! The absolute highlight for me was seeing the haka in person: the Whitiereia Performing Arts Kapa Haka performed Maori love songs and and traditional hakas–and, of course, the world-famous haka that the All-Blacks perform before games. It gave me chills: what a way to fire up before a battle!

Muesli at Caffe Mode, Kelburn, Wellington, New Zealand

Enjoy the cafes: Wellington–like Melbourne–has a great cafe scene, one that’s committed to excellent coffee, delicious food and laid-back ambiance. The sunny courtyard at Fidels Cafe is a wonderful way to start the day, while the muesli at Caffe Mode in Kelburn was a fabulous post-hangover breakfast.

  • It’s so great that you thought of contacting Amanda! Being friends with other travel bloggers certainly has its upsides 🙂

    I’m glad you had fun in Wellington, it certainly looks like a lot of fun. Sometimes I wonder why I  limited my blog to Europe only!

  • Great post!  I love watching Hakas… I cried the first time I watched a live one,  it was so powerful.  

  • Wellington is probably going to be the first city I head to when I go to NZ next year – I can’t wait to go now!!

  • Alexandra

    Lovely post about a lovely and often underrated city!  So glad to see you enjoying the best parts of Wellington!!

  • Some nice tips and great photos. Sadly when I was there the weather was terrible but did get to spend lots of time at Te Papa.

  • I’ll be in Wellington for a short time next month. Thanks for the tips. I’ll be sure to reference this piece again.

  • I’m so glad that Wellington treated you well! It’s kind of hit or miss with the weather there sometimes, but, like I’ve said before, if you can catch the city on a good day, there is no place better!

    It seems like you hit up most of my favorite spots in the city. Lovely photos, too!

  • I’m so glad that Wellington treated you well! It’s kind of hit or miss with the weather there sometimes, but, like I’ve said before, if you can catch the city on a good day, there is no place better!

    It seems like you hit up most of my favorite spots in the city. Lovely photos, too!

  • What a fun looking city!  And PS I love your outfit in the 1st pic!!!

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Amanda was an excellent resource! And I named my blog “C’est Christine” with the intent of staying in France–but obviously that didn’t happen! Don’t think anyone will be too mad if your focus extends beyond Europe 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I got chills! So intense, but also so beautiful. So happy that I was able to see it in person!

  • Anonymous

    If you love Melbourne, you’ll love Wellington–such a great cafe culture, super laid-back and absolutely gorgeous!

  • Anonymous

    Would love to go back–but only if the weather promises to be as good as it was the first day I was there!

  • Anonymous

    My friend who lives there said she spent her first few weeks just in Te Papa because the weather was so bad–so now she knows that museum inside and out! I definitely lucked out with some gorgeous weather, just wanted to spend all day on the waterfront 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Enjoy it! Wellington is a beautiful little city with lots of culture 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all your help! The weather was gorgeous the first day I was there, and rainy the last day–so we were able to spend plenty of time in Te Papa 🙂 Either way, I can’t wait to go back!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I really loved it in Wellington–certainly hoping to get back 🙂

  • So very beautiful!  I’m hankering to get back to the Welly, thanks to your photos!

  • I would have thought one of the activities would be to fly a kite since it’s one of the top 3 windiest cities in the world 🙂

  • I loved Wellington when I was there! Did you go to the top of that crazy crooked road mountain/volcanoe/hill thing for the awesome views? haha

  • Can’t believe we lived in New Zealand for half a year and never made it to Wellington. It looks such a bright, colourful city. Next time.

  • Didn’t think there was much to do in Wellington. Q & I were planning on just making it a stop-over city as we ferry it over to Picton. Might give it another day now. 

  • Didn’t think there was much to do in Wellington. Q & I were planning on just making it a stop-over city as we ferry it over to Picton. Might give it another day now. 

  • Pingback: Postcard from the streets of Wellington | C'est Christine()

  • Anonymous

    So am I, don’t worry! Glad you enjoyed them 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I was actually there on a VERY rare no-wind day! My friend was shocked–she said it was the first time she’d ever heard of a no-wind day in Wellington 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Yes–but of course we waited until my last day, and it was super cloudy and rainy! Pictures aren’t too flash, but I can only imagine how gorgeous it is on a sunny day. My friend just moved into a flat with an amazing view on Mt Vic–so jealous!

  • Anonymous

    Definitely next time! It’s a really great little city–totally think I could live there for a bit!

  • Anonymous

    Totally worth at least a day or two–it’s gorgeous and has a really great cafe scene!

Previous post:

Next post: