Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, it sits on the North Island’s southernmost point and is famous for its windy weather and hilly terrain dotted with charming timber houses. The city’s compact and vibrant centre is positioned around the waterfront and is known for its fantastic cafes and restaurants as well as excellent shopping, and a buzzing arts scene and nightlife. Here are the most popular and iconic things to do in Wellington, the city dubbed “The Coolest Little Capital in the World”.

1. Te Papa Museum

Te Papa Museum

The national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa (meaning “Our Place) or “Te Papa” for short, tells the story of New Zealand in the most interactive and fun way possible! Learn all about New Zealand’s extraordinary and unique geology, ecology, and cultural and social history with fun, interactive and informative exhibitions.

Entry is totally free, with some temporary exhibitions also free and some with a small charge. Located in central Wellington at 55 Cable Street, Te Papa is easy to find with a myriad of signs pointing out the way all around the city centre.

  • Prices: Free
  • Duration: During business hours
  • Times: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day except Christmas Day.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

2. Weta Cave & Workshop

Weta Cave & Workshop

A must-do for movie buffs! The Weta Cave is a mini-museum and shop that offers a glimpse into the world of movie making at Weta. Ogle the fascinating artefacts from a host of films, snap selfies with the life-size sculptures and watch the exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary that screens every 30 mins.

Entry to the Weta Cave is FREE, and for a charge visitors can get a behind-the-scenes tour into the creation of props, weapons and costumes from many Hollywood movies including the unique Lord of The Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. The Weta Cave is around 15 minutes from Wellington city centre in the suburb of Miramar, and you can opt for the scenic route around the oriental bay to enjoy a seaside drive on the way.

  • Prices: Weta Cave is free
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

3. Mount Victoria Lookout

Mount Victoria Lookout

The hillside suburb of Mt Victoria boasts panoramic views of Wellington city and harbour. To reach the lookout you can drive all the way to the top or follow the bush-lined walkway from the city centre.

If you walk it’s well worth the hike, and you will pass one of the Lord of the Rings filming locations on the way (the scene where the Hobbits are hiding from the black riders outside The Shire). Take a picnic and watch the ships in the harbour, stay to see the sun set over the city.

  • Prices: Free
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times: All day
  • Best time: Morning for city or airport views. Afternoon for views of the northeastern hills and mountains.
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

4. Cuba Street

Cuba Street

No trip to Wellington is complete without a walk down the famous Cuba St, a lively central city street featuring some of the city’s most vibrant cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Home to hipsters and creatives, Cuba St, is a hub of culture, arts, vintage, op-shops, boutiques and cafes.

You are likely to chance upon street performers, an excellent coffee or craft beer and plenty to keep you occupied as you stroll along soaking up the vibe.

  • Prices: Free; Tour – $25
  • Duration: During business hours
  • Times: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

5. Parliament Buildings

Parliament Buildings

A tour of the New Zealand parliament building known as “The Beehive” because of its iconic beehive shape is a popular activity for visitors to New Zealand’s capital city. Learn about the country’s parliamentary process and check out the architecture and the artwork around the place.

Tours run on the hour every day (except public holidays) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Prices: Free; Tour – $25
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

6. Space Place at Carter Observatory

Space Place at Carter Observatory

Space Place is connected with Wellington Museum and it the place to learn the stories of the southern skies. Featuring interactive galleries, multimedia exhibits and the full-dome planetarium. Learn all about the stars, planets constellations and galaxies including stories of space exploration and the science and mythology of Maori astronomy.

Space Place is in the suburb of Kelburn which easily reachable from the central city on the famous Wellington Cable Car.

  • Prices:
    • Adults – $12.50; Senior/students – $10
    • Children (4-16 years) – $8; Under four years – free
    • Family (two adults and up to three children) – $39. Bookings are essential for all schools and tour groups.
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times:
    • Tuesday: 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
    • Friday: 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
    • Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Last entry at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    • Closed Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; Closed on Christmas Day.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

7. Wellington Botanic Gardens

Wellington Botanic Garden

Enjoy the plant collections and seasonal beds. The Wellington Botanic Gardens includes multiple attractions including bush walks, extensive plant collections, rose gardens, cafe, artworks, Begonia House, Braille trail and a treehouse lookout.

There is plenty to enjoy year round but the best time to visit is in spring when the expansive tulip garden is in bloom and during summer. Also in the suburb of Kelburn, the Botanic Gardens are easily accessed from the top of the Wellington Cable Car.

  • Prices: Free
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Times: Treehouse Visitor Centre – Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Weekends from September to April: 10 a.m – 3 p.m.; Weekends from May to August Closed; Closed on public holidays .
    Botanic Garden – All year: Dawn to dusk.
    Begonia House – From September to March: 9 a.m – 5 p.m.; From April to August: 9 a.m – p.m..
    Botanic Garden Shop – From September to March: 9 a.m – 5 p.m.; From April to August: 11 a.m – 4 p.m.; Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day. Closed on Anzac Day until 1 p.m.
    Picnic Cafe – All year: 8:30 a.m – 4 p.m.; Closed on Christmas Day.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

8. Zealandia Sanctuary

Zealandia Sanctuary

A New Zealand wildlife experience like no other, Zealandia is an urban ecosanctuary and groundbreaking conservation project that aims to restore the valley’s forest and natural waterways to their pre-human state.

The 225-hectare project is fully fenced (to keep predators out) and has successfully reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area. Zealandia is the best way to discover New Zealand’s unique native birds, insects and reptiles – many of which are ancestors from the dinosaur age.

Volunteer guides can help you spot the resident creatures and recognise the unique bird calls, and you can even book a night tour to spot the nocturnal kiwi.

  • Prices:
    • Adult: Starts at $55
    • Child (5-17 years): Starts at $27.50
    • Under 5’s: FREE
    • Family (Up to 2 adults & 3 children): $110
    • Member (Adult): Starts at $27.50
    • Member (Child): Starts at $13.75
  • Duration: 2 hours (if day time tour); 2.5 hours (if night time tour)
  • Times: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open every day except Christmas).
  • Best time: Daytime
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

9. Walk along the Waterfront

Walk along the Waterfront

Relaxing on the waterfront is one of the most popular things to do in Wellington amongst visitors and locals alike. Wellington’s waterfront is a wonderful promenade that is dotted with ice cream parlours, cafes, sculpture, poetry, and green spaces. You can enjoy a stroll all the way to Oriental Bay, enjoy an ice cream and spend some time people watching.

Check out markets on the weekend (there are three to choose from). A great place to soak up some sunshine if you visit Wellington during sunny weather, it can also be a great place to experience the force of Wellington’s famous winds.

  • Prices: Free
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Times: All day
  • Best time: Any time as long as the weather is good
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

10. Wellington Cable Car


For more than a hundred years the charming Wellington Cable Car has transported passengers up through the hillside terraces of Kelburn. The 5-minute, historical journey to the lookout at the top is an iconic activity and a must-do when exploring Wellington. Running daily between Lambton Quay and Kelburn the Wellington Cable Car provides easy access to the Wellington Botanic Gardens, the Cable Car Museum, Space Place, and Zealandia (via a free shuttle ride).

  • Prices: Adults – $5 one way, $9 return; Children – $2.50 one way, $4:50; Students (with NZ student ID) – one way $3, return $5.
  • Duration: 5 minutes
  • Times: Runs every 10 mins. Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Best time: Off-peak times 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and after 6 p.m. Weekends and public holidays.
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions