It’s easy to make the most of a place for free when you live there, so here’s some insider info on how to experience some of the best that Wellington has to offer – without breaking the bank.
1. Visit the Weta Cave, Miramar
We’re not talking about a dark place full of huge insects, but rather the showcase for Weta Workshop, designers on films like The Lord of the Rings. You’ll see props, characters and other fascinating creations you would otherwise only get to see on screen. Entry is free but you’ll need to pay for a guided tour.
2. Take in the views at Mount Victoria
Put on your hiking boots, grab your camera and a picnic, and trek through the bush-covered Town Belt to the Mount Victoria Lookout. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and harbour. Or, if you have a car, drive up and enjoy the romantic sunset views with your partner.
3. Explore Te Papa
Te Papa Tongarewa (“Container of Treasures”) is New Zealand’s national museum. It’s a vibrant and exciting place, featuring art and visual culture, history and science all under one roof. Dubbed one of the “world’s finest freebies” by Lonely Planet, visit and see why.
4. Check out the seal colony at Red Rocks
Red Rocks Reserve on Wellington’s south coast is an area of national significance. From May to October it’s home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals – young bachelors who haven’t won mates yet. Take plenty of photos, but also keep a reasonable distance, especially if you’re travelling with the little ones.
5. Tour the Beehive
Explore Parliament House, the Parliamentary Library and the iconic Beehive building, each with its own distinctive architectural style and art collection. Tours operate seven days but are closed on public holidays.
6. Discover Wellington’s beaches and bays
There’s no shortage of beaches in Wellington or bay areas to spend the day taking in some sun. Stroll around scenic Island Bay, surf at Lyall Bay, picnic at beautiful Scorching Bay or chill out with a coffee at Petone’s beachside café.
7. Visit the Cuba St art galleries
Funky Cuba Street hosts a raft of boutique galleries, including the Peter McLeavey Gallery at #147 (with the Enjoy Public Art Gallery upstairs), the Kiwi Art House on #288, Eyeball Kicks at #177 and Suite at #243.
8. Wander around Wellington Botanic Garden
This “Garden of National Significance” is located just minutes from the CBD and is a place to happily lose yourself in. The 25-hectare green space features terrific views over the city, stunning plants and a maze of walkways, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic.
Grab some takeaway from Picnic Cafe (located within the gardens itself) and have lunch at your favourite spot on the grass. It’s open seven days a week and the potato and feta hash cakes are one to try.
9. Take the Writers Walk on the waterfront
The Wellington Writers Walk is a series of 23 sculptural quotations celebrating the city, dotted along the waterfront. They’re not always easy to spot, but an online map makes the treasure hunt easier.
10. Explore Wellington Museum
Consistently ranked as one of the 50 best museums in the world, Wellington’s own museum features interactive exhibitions focusing on the social and cultural history of the country’s capital. Sometimes quirky, always engaging, and well worth a look.