Wellington In A Day
These highlights can be done in any order but follow a rough route across the city which can be started from either end depending on where you are staying
Wellington is a compact city, perfect for exploring even if you only have a short time to visit. With many major attractions within walking distance of central city accommodation, Wellington is a city where you can pack a lot in. Any one of these itineraries could be comfortably completed in a day including stops for refreshments at some of the cities cafes or restaurants.
If you don’t want to walk, the weather isn’t great (hey it’s Wellington, it might be windy!) or you want to get a bit further afield, the city is a good place for cycling and Go Bus run services in the CBD and throughout the local suburbs.
If you are starting early, then search out one of the city’s great cafes to start your day. There are many to choose from, but some suggestions to get you started include the Dixon Street Deli and Fidel's which are both in Te Aro and serve a range of scrummy breakfast items and Joes Garage near Te Papa. Drexels in Lambton Quay is a great choice if you like your breakfast American style and don’t go past John’s Kitchen tucked away in a lane off Lambton Quay. Even though it might not look like the flashiest cafe in town, it offers great food and friendly service.
If you really only have limited time in the capital, this 'Attractions Itinerary' is the perfect way to sample all of the tourist must-dos in the city. These highlights can be done in any order but follow a rough route across the city which can be started from either end depending on where you are staying or where you decided to have breakfast.
You can walk from one end of the central business district (CBD) to the other in about half an hour but be sure to factor in more time for lingering at each stop and taking in the sights in between.
Wander around the Parliament precinct and admire the contrasting architecture from the older Edwardian and Victorian Gothic buildings to the more modern Beehive that houses the current debating chamber and ministers’ offices. If you want to find out more take a guided tour of the Beehive.
Instead of heading through the central city streets, meander down to the waterfront to continue your journey. The waterfront is always bustling, and if you feel a bit more active you can hire a bike or roller skates to get along. Stop off at Frank Kitts park if you’re visiting with children - they’ll love the lighthouse slide - or pop into one of the shops and stalls along the way.
Start your waterfront walk here and find out more about the history of the capital city and its marine associations.
Te Papa Museum of New Zealand
One of the jewels in Wellington’s crown, Te Papa is a must do for any visitor to the city. Learn about New Zealand’s natural environment, its culture and its wildlife with stunning displays and interactive exhibits
Cuba Street/Lambton Quay
Check out the shopping, artist studios and restaurants as you wander back through the central city.
Another staple in the Wellington holiday list, the cable car runs from Lambton Quay up the hill and ends at the Botanic Gardens. You can make the trip back down or walk down through the gardens if you have time. If you have more time, or you want to indulge your particular interests, check out these options for other day-long exploration.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day, and explore some of these more scenic areas.
Mt Victoria lookout
Rising just under 200 metres above the city, the Mount Victoria lookout is loved by locals and tourists alike for its beautiful views. From the top, you can see across the bays and down to the city. You can drive all the way to the top or walk through the Town Belt to enjoy the fresh air.
With 25 hectares of landscaped grounds the Botanic Gardens are a perfect place to escape to. You can wander the park like surroundings or explore the more formal floral displays. There are several entrances to the gardens from the city or surrounding suburbs, or take the Cable Car from Lambton Quay.
Zealandia and Wellington Zoo
Two sanctuaries for animal lovers, close to the city. Wellington Zoo houses both native and international animals and is small enough to walk around in a couple of hours. At Zealandia, you can explore native bush and learn more about New Zealand’s birds and mammals including the nocturnal Kiwi and the playful mountain parrots.
Fancy yourself as a trendsetter? Think about exploring the reasons why Wellington bills itself as the coolest little capital.
The centre of funky Wellington, Cuba Street houses some of the city’s best shops as well as bars and cafes. By day you can shop til you drop in the vintage boutiques and original artists studios before retiring for a long lunch or an afternoon cocktail.
They may not yet compete with Melbourne’s famous laneways just yet, but Wellington’s lanes are undergoing a transformation and are a great place to find cafes and shops off the usual tourist trail.
Quench your thirst with a trip along the craft beer trail which takes in some of the capital’s most innovative and award-winning brewers.
Take a trip out to Miramar and enjoy a tour of the Weta Workshop home to the creators of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Writer: Arwen Hann