Things to do in Wellington

Wellington is my favourite city in the world. I love it because it is home and the perfect day in Wellington involves great coffee,  brunch, life-long friends and family.

The Capital City of New Zealand is famous for it’s wind, and for being the home of Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of The Rings film trilogy. Some days home is where I want to be, others I’d prefer to be anywhere else. Regardless, I recommend anyone visiting New Zealand spends at least 24 hours in Wellington.

Windy Wellington sign on hill during day in Wellington


Surprising things about Wellington

Believe it or not Wellington has more restaurants, bars and cafes per capita than New York. I wrote about some of my favourite restaurants in this post.

Hanging Ditch Bar Wellington

There are also unexpected features like Old Bank Arcade , a historic building on Lambton Quay which is now a shopping centre. It was built by the Bank of New Zealand as their head office on top of the remains of Plimmers Ark (left above water when the land was pushed up by a massive earthquake).

Whenever I’ve visited the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney it’s reminded me of the Old Bank Arcade and it makes sense now I know it was restored by the same people.

Old Bank Arcade Wellington

Here are some of the best things to do in Wellington:

Take a ride on the Wellington Cable Car

The Cable Car runs throughout the day in Wellington every 10 minutes between Lambton Quay – the major shopping street in the CBD, up the hill past Victoria University to the highest point in the Botanic Gardens in Thorndon. The views of the city and harbour are fantastic, it’s much easier than walking, and you feel like you’re taking a step back in history.

There is also a Cable Car museum at the top of the hill in Kelburn where you can see Cable Cars of the past and learn about the history of this transport icon, as well as a lookout for taking photos.

Things to do in Wellington Cable Car

Explore the laneways

Hannah’s Laneway is a funky area encompassing Leeds Street and Eva Streets. What was not so long ago a couple of best avoided, dodgy alleyways is now a hive of boutique Wellington bars, eateries and factories.

There’s great pizza, some of the best bars in Wellington (including one with bottles of spirits hanging from the ceiling), peanut butter sold from a window and the great craft beer, coffee and chocolate that Wellington is known for.

Walk around Oriental Bay

Order a Flat White coffee at the cafe on the tugboat in the bay and watch the ferries pass by, perhaps visit an Open Home somewhere on the hill and admire the view pretending you can afford the price tag. Take a detour up Mount Victoria for amazing views of the city, and purchase an ice cream from Kaffee Eis for the walk (with the assistance of the Southerly Wind) back into the city.

things to do in Wellington Oriental Bay

Go to a rugby game at Westpac Stadium

New Zealand is rugby mad. Wellington is home to the Wellington Hurricanes and The Wellington Lions, and also hosts The All Blacks, New Zealand’s international rugby side at least once each season.

Things to do in Wellington Westpac Stadium
Westpac Stadium. (Image Source Science Learning)

You might not understand the game but you won’t be able to resist the enthusiasm of the local crowd, and the seats in the stadium are yellow – the home side’s colour, so there is no excuse for not being sure which team you are supposed to be supporting!

Visit Miramar

If you have more than 24 hours in Wellington, then take a trip out to Miramar, a suburb which gained status as a trendy, foodie part of Wellington largely thanks to Peter Jackson’s studios being located there and the commencement of filming for The Hobbit.

I’ve seen many a movie at the Roxy Cinema. Check out the weta workshop touches like the statue of gollum and the fish door handles on the front entrance. The beautiful painted ceiling, art deco lights, and era carpet and wallpaper make you feel as though you have gone back in time as the theatre is so beautifully restored.

Cafe Polo or The Ladar are good for coffee but both can get insanely busy. I’ve heard good things about Cafe Polo’s rice salad, while The Lader offer a comprehensive brunch menu, good coffee, a hot fire, enough papers to go around and I love that they have pictures of their suppliers on the walls.

Park Road Kitchen is opposite the Roxy Theatre for a fabulous restaurant meal before you watch a movie on a date night.

Who should visit Wellington?

I would recommend  visiting Wellington to anyone (especially in Spring). Being a small, walkable city it’s easy to get around and see a lot even if you only have one day in Wellington.

There are plenty of things to do in Wellington whether you are sports mad, a fan of Peter Jackson’s movies, a foodie or any other form of enthusiastic tourist you will love this city, it truly is the best little city in the world.

The Great War Exhibition Wellington