15 Best Destinations in Wellington: Wellington has many beautiful and meaningful places you should visit. The places ranged from Museums, Parks, Vibrant streets, Animal conservations, to learning centers. Some of them also offer adventurous trips such as in Matiu Island and in Zealandia. Some of them give insightful information about the country’s history. Here are our top 15 recommendations of places to visit in Wellington!
1. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Before you decided to go to any other places, come to visit The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington. You might be wondering what is the meaning of ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’? it loosely translates to Container of Treasures. The construction of the museum began in 1865 with different names, until 1992 where they officially changed the name to ‘Te Papa’. The museum now owns six floors full of different exhibitions. It also has a cafe and gift shop. The museum becomes a home for various kinds of historical artifacts. From the oldest textiles collections, fossils, valuable ancient furniture, to marine species. If you are interested in learning more, you can visit the Te Aka Matua Library as a researcher. Lastly, you don’t have to pay an admission fee to enter!
2. Wellington Cable Car
After visiting a museum full of amazing collections, come to the Wellington Cable Car to witness the mesmerizing landscape of Wellington. Located in Lambton Quay, you definitely have to come to try this iconic landmark! There are two different kinds of tickets which you can buy. The first one is the Return ticket, which includes uphill and downhill rides. The second one is the one-way ticket, which only includes uphill or downhill rides. You can stop at the Cable Car Summit at the top, or in the Lambton Quay. It is only $5 for one way ticket and $9 for a return ticket. Lastly, the cable car is open from 7.30 Am to 8 Pm in weekdays!
After trying out a scenic ride with a cable car, it is time to go for an adventure in Zealandia! It is a wildlife sanctuary that is completely fenced to conserve the forest. However, what makes this place special is over 40 native species live freely here. That means you can hike and meet over 150 kiwis on your trip. You can also meet prehistoric reptiles such as the majestic tuatara. Other than the rich faunas, Zealandia becomes a major tourist attraction in wellington as well as a comprehensive learning center for researchers.
4. Mount Victoria Lookout
Other than Zealandia, you can opt for Mount Victoria Lookout. Located not far away from the hustle-bustle of the city, you can find lush pine forests which offer refreshing air. It also only takes an hour and 30 minutes to hike the whole trail! From the top of the lookout, you can see the whole view of the Harbour and the City Business District. If you are lucky, you catch a view of airplanes landing in the Wellington Airport. To reach the trail, you can ride bus number 20 from Courtney Place Stop C for only $4.
5. Wellington Botanic Garden
Next up is to visit Wellington Botanic Garden. The garden offers a scenic forest experience however completed with seasonal displays from Native species. It also extended its collection to Rose Garden and non-native plantations. There are some other features that added more accents to the garden. Those are the Victorian-style glasshouse, the Begonia House, and the Lady Norwood rose garden. Other than that, the garden also owns a large children’s play area and a duck pond. This place is perfect for a family day out!
6. Wellington Zoo
Satisfied with walking around a scenic garden? It is still not enough until you meet with many exotic animals! You can meet up with Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Blue Tongued Snakes, Brown Capuchin, Capybara, Caracal, Cheetah, Chimpanzee, Cotton-top Tamarin, Gibbon, Golden Lion Tamarin, and so many more animals to see! Wellington Zoo also offers an opportunity to get closer to the animals by booking a close encounter with the animals! Click here to see more information!
7. Weta Cave
Away from nature and native animals, there is one place where you can endeavor yourself with home-making magic in the heart of Hollywood. Located in Camperdown Road, Miramar, this place displays cutting-edge technology and crafted artistry Oscar-winning props. Ranged from costumes, creature effects, and many props. One of the most famous displays would be the Rings and the Hobbit props. There are also many tours explaining various models, collectibles, and items. If you are lucky, you can also see firsthand how the artist created them. To see the magic you have to pay an admission fee of $28!
8. Cuba Street
Moving on from the previous destination, now we’ve gotta explore another side of Wellington a little bit. Cuba Street is a perfect place in Wellington to stroll around while enjoying a vibrant atmosphere and discover various quirky cafes. The street becomes a home for many vintage clothing boutiques, record stores, art galleries, and a famous bucket fountain. This is also the perfect place for the LGBTQ community to find a safe enclosure!
9. Space Place at Carter Observatory
After an amazing night out in Cuba Street, it is time to explore the space! In Space Place Wellington, you can learn more about other creatures existing in our universe, adopting a star, and watch shows through a full-dome planetarium screen! This amazing place owns many interactive galleries where you can experience Apollo Mission when the rocket blast-off. Moreover, the place also owns a huge telescope where you can stargaze. Kids will also love the education center where they can receive space learning sessions with professional teams.
10. Wellington Waterfront Walk
Wondering if you can do something for free in Wellington? Come to the waterfront walk where you can take a quick walk and just enjoy a refreshing breeze from the ocean. Moreover, you can also take your bike here to go around the places. Other activities available here including pedal boats, kayaking, and swimming. The waterfront also offers heritage trails that showcase various artworks as well as sculptures. If you bring your children with you, they can play in the Frank Kitts park playground. Lastly, the area usually hosts annual city events such as the dragon boating festival, Chinese new year, and Matariki Skyshow fireworks.
11. Matiu / Somes Island
If you feel like going on an adventure trip just a little bit further from the center of the city, you should try Matiu Island. The island is rich with native wildlife and exotic plantations, therefore, giving mesmerizing scenery. There is an easy track where you can see Wellington city from the top, which is the Matiu Loo track. The track also offers historical and ecological attractions, including the lighthouse. To reach this island, you can ride a ferry from Queen Wharf and Days Bay to Matiu Island seven days a week.
12. Pukeahu National War Memorial Park
Going on an adventure might be tiring, so next up is to learn more about local history. We are heading to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park which was built to honor over 30,000 New Zealanders who died while served. Here, you can learn more about the country’s was a military conflict, peacekeeping, and activities that shape the country’s national identity. There is also a special Hall of Memories dedicated to honor different branches of the New Zealand Armed Forces. Other than that, there are many memorials from different countries here, such as from the U.S, U.K, Turkish, Germany, French, and Belgian.
13. Otari-Wilton’s Bush
Other than the city botanic garden, you can also opt to visit this garden dedicated fully to the Native plants. This is the one and only garden in New Zealand! This botanic garden has a 800 years old tree which is still alive to this day. This is one of the oldest trees in Wellington! Located just a few kilometers away from the city center, the garden collects 1,200 species of native plants including hybrids and cultivars. The botanic garden also serves as a conservation, research, education, and recreation site. Lastly, the garden opens from 8 Am to 4 Pm daily.
14. Old St Paul’s
Tired of walking around the natural bushes? Visit the Old Saint Paul cathedral in Wellington to enjoy a tranquil sanctuary with mesmerizing architecture. This sophisticated cathedral is one of New Zealand’s greatest heritage. It was built in 1865 with fine native timbers. This cathedral becomes one of the best examples of Gothic revival architecture, therefore stores interesting stories. The cathedral is open daily from 10 Am to 4 Pm.
15. Wrights Hill Fortress
Last but not least, we are going to visit this special historical site in the city. Wrights Hill Fortress is a counter bombardment tunnel in Karori. It was built between 1942 to 1947 in the middle of World War Two. It also owns an operation room and three gun emplacements. You can learn a lot more about the history of the tunnel by joining an hour-long guided tour on Open Days. The admission fee ranged from $5 for children, $10 for adults, and $20 for a family.