Wellington is not only the capital of the country, it is literally and figuratively the connecting point between the North and South Islands. The ferry between the north and south island sails here. Several ferries depart daily from and to Wellington. In this article, we list down the amazing day trips you can take in Wellington.
This city is a real capital with a vibrant centre where you should stay at least a few days to see the city properly. Wellington is located in a beautiful area and has a vibrant centre. You can go there for a day of shopping and the evening is great in the many restaurants and bars that the city is rich.
It also has a large harbour which is the main starting point for boats on the North Island. The houses in the city can be reached by following old, narrow roads. Some houses even have cable cars to get the groceries into the house so they don’t have to lug all those bags up the stairs. Locals call Wellington “Welly”. It is known for the strong winds that blow through from the sea. In this article, I will list some of the places you must visit when you’re travelling anywhere near Wellington.
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Waterfront: Port and Oriental bay
Let’s start this visit to Wellington with one of the must-see places of the city, the “waterfront”. This area gathers a multitude of activities, for the greatest pleasure of the tourists passing through the city but also of its residents. As a result, Wellington is often noted as one of the cities offering the best quality of life to its inhabitants.
In order to discover this waterfront, let’s follow the Maritime Heritage Trail, a walk of about 3 kilometres that goes around the harbour, “Lambton bay” and leads you to “Oriental bay”.
This walk starts near Waterloo Quay, north of the harbour where you will see some old buildings, including the Eastbourne Ferry Ticket Office dating from 1913. Further south is other old buildings and warehouses. Just south of this location is Frank Kitts Park. It was built in 1976 and expanded 4 years later. In this park, there are different spaces, games for children, and a memorial to the Korean War. To the south of the park is a water feature, where people can gather.
Along the sea is the statue of “Kupe”, the greatest Maori explorer who discovered Wellington. William Trethewey created the statue for the 1940 exhibition to celebrate 100 years of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Let’s continue our way on Taranaki Street (the part which goes along the sea), we then meet several restaurants and bars taken by storm as soon as the weather is fine. At the end of this street, at the corner with the Wellington Waterfront Walk, you can’t miss all the children (and older ones) jumping from the diving board installed there for their pleasure. This is one of the attractions of this waterfront, taken by storm on weekends and vacations when the weather allows it.
The beach was improved in 2002 with the addition of 22,000 tons of sand from Golden Bay (north of the South Island).
Just in front of the square, 150 meters offshore, is the Carter Fountain, a 16-meter high fountain, operated 4 to 6 times a day.
Note that Wellington Bay is a place very frequented by orcas and that it is not uncommon to see them in the harbour.
Cable Car and Botanical Garden
The Cable Car
One of the symbols of Wellington is the Cable Car. Indeed, this funicular is one of the most famous and most visited attractions in the city. It is, without a doubt, one of Wellington’s must-sees.
Inaugurated in February 1902, the construction of the cable car began 3 years earlier. The goal was to link the CBD (central business district) to Kelburn, a neighbourhood located on top of a hill near the city centre.
Though Wellington residents still use the cablecars today, the majority of tourists also use the cablecar. A natural tourist attraction, the cable car also allows going to the botanical garden of the city. In addition to this garden, is the panorama offered by the hill. Indeed, this funicular ride will make you gain altitude, 120 meters to be exact. This point of view will offer you a beautiful panorama of the business district of Wellington.
Let’s take a closer look at this famous cable car.
The main entrance of the garden is located at the top of the hill. It is not far from the arrival of the cable car. This one continues on the side of the hill. This garden is rich in different species of trees and flowers with an impressive number of different types of ferns. The garden includes a large Victorian greenhouse, a Begonia greenhouse and a Rose garden. There is also a children’s play area, the Carter Observatory and the Cable Car Museum.
Every year, in the summer and spring, the city organizes many free events such as concerts.
Location: Cable Car Lane, 280 Lambton Quay, Wellington Central, New Zealand.
Wellington’s parliament is one of the most imposing buildings in the city. In fact, it is not one but three buildings that form the parliament. The Parliamentary Library: a building built between 1883 and 1899 in a Victorian Gothic style.
The Parliament: An Edwardian building where the debating chamber is located.
The Beehive: it is the most recognizable building of all because it has a very particular shape. Dating back to 1970, it is the most used by the government. Here, the offices of the different ministers and MPs are located as well as many meeting spaces.
Guided tours take place every day. These tours are free of charge and take you to discover the different areas of the parliament. This includes the banquet hall, the debate room, the parliamentary library, etc.
Location: 1 Museum Street, Pipitea, Wellington 6160, New Zealand
Te Papa Museum
The Te Papa Tongarewa Museum is for me the number one must-see in Wellington. If you have to visit only one museum in New Zealand, go to Te Papa Museum. Built in 1988, this building is located on the waterfront. It is made up of 6 floors of exhibitions, which include stores and cafes on more than 36,000 square meters. The museum also includes some outdoor spaces with artificial caves or marshy areas.
In addition, it has many collections, notably on the history of New Zealand and its culture with a replica of the Treaty of Waitangi. The museum has over 13,000 historical objects from the Pacific Islands.
In addition to the history of New Zealand, the museum also showcases its flora and fauna. The museum has a herbarium of more than 250,000 species, but also an impressive collection of birds, reptiles and mammals with more than 70,000 specimens. The most impressive is a giant squid, the largest in the world, which measures no less than 4.2 meters in length and weighs nearly 500 kilos.
Moreover, temporary collections are exhibited in the museum. During our visit, the exhibition called “Gallipoli, The Scale of our war” was presented. This one recalled the battle of Gallipoli during the first world war which New Zealand soldiers fought.
Location: 55 Cable Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011
Not far from the centre of Wellington, less than 3 km to the south is Mount Victoria. A must-see during your stay in Wellington, Mount Victoria rises to 196 meters and offers a breathtaking view of Wellington city and its surroundings.
You can get to the top of the mountain either by car, as there is a parking lot at the top, or on foot via paths through the mountain’s vegetation from Majoribanks Street or Hay Street (perpendicular to Oriental Parade).
Mount Victoria is an ideal place to spend a quiet afternoon. It is also a great place to watch the sunset or sunrise.
Located about 4 km south of the city centre, The Wellington Zoo was the first zoo to be established in New Zealand. Established in 1906, it became a non-profit charitable foundation in 2003.
The zoo has several hundred animals including lions, giraffes, many species of insects and reptiles and of course rare birds such as the Kiwi, one of New Zealand’s emblems.
Location: 200 Daniell Street, Newtown, Wellington 6021
A sanctuary for nature, Zealandia is even the first urban sanctuary in the world. This natural space of 225 hectares seeks to preserve the fauna and the flora of New Zealand victim of the mammals introduced by man several hundreds of years ago. In particular, the rats, opossum and rabbits. This sanctuary has been cleaned of all mammals that could harm the plants and animals endemic to the country. A barrier of more than 8 kilometres surrounds the sanctuary, preventing these mammals from entering.
Visitors can visit the sanctuary either day or night and by free or guided tours.
Location: 53 Waiapu Road, Karori, Wellington 6012
One of Wellington’s main thoroughfares is Lambton Quay. It is located in the centre of the city’s Central Business District.
It is located where the European settlers landed in 1840. Originally, the street faced the sea, but following the earthquake of 1855 and various works, it is now located about 250 meters from the waterfront.
Its name comes from the Earl of Durham, also president of the New Zealand company in charge of the colonization of New Zealand: John Lambton.
This street is one of the most commercial streets in Wellington with many clothing stores, souvenir shops, jewellery stores and various accessory stores. On one side of the street is the Parliament building, on the other side, is Frank Kitts Park, located on the waterfront. In the middle of this street, Lambton Street is the entrance to the Cable Car.
The Weta Workshop is a New Zealand company based in Wellington whose goal is the creation of special effects, costumes, armours and models for the cinema.
The name WETA may appeal to some because it is indeed the name of an insect endemic to New Zealand (the largest in the world). However, the name Weta Workshop has nothing to do with this insect since WETA is the acronym for Wingnut Entertainment Technical Allusions. It’s a play on words recalling Peter Jackson’s production company (director of the Lord of the Rings): Wingnut Entertainment.
The company has been involved in many films. However, its order book began to explode after its work in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The company has even received several Oscars.
Since then it has worked on films such as Avatar, King Kong, The World of Narnia, Elysium, The Hobbit, or more recently Blade Runner 2049.
The Weta Workshop has a store: The Weta Cave which exhibits and sells many figurines of films on which the company has worked.
Location: 21 Camperdown Road, Miramar, Wellington 6022