Figuring out what to see in Wellington could take you a while – there are lots of fantastic options to choose from. The city is full of history, art and unique attractions, so you’ll want to get among it all from the moment your flight lands.
Depending on your interests, consider saving time for Oriental Bay, Space Place and Old St Paul’s Cathedral for a rich combination of the past, the future, and the beautiful present. Don’t let Wellington’s attractions fill up your schedule too quickly, though. There’s plenty to see beyond the city as well, like sensational Zealandia.
One of the most ambitious conservation projects every embarked upon, Zealandia is a 225ha slab of land in Wellington that has been entirely fenced off to protect native wildlife (including little spotted kiwis, black shags, spotted skinks, and Wellington green geckos). While open to the public as an attraction, Zealandia has a 500-year plan to return this section of land to the way it was before humans existed.
The Wellington Cable Car provides some of the best views of the city, embarking from Lambton Quay and heading up into the hills to the suburb of Kelburn. At the top, step onto the outdoor viewing platform to enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the city and harbour. This is an enjoyably cruisy way to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.
Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings? If so, the Weta Cave is a must-visit for you. Home to the world-famous special effects house Weta Workshop, as well as one of New Zealand’s biggest film production facilities, this will be an important stop for anyone looking to learn more about how the films were made.
If you’re staying in the CBD but still want to hit the beach, Wellington’s Oriental Bay is the perfect spot for a dip. Picturesque waterfront views, a wide array of cafes and restaurants along the shoreline, and plenty of space on the sand for getting some sun all make it a favourite beachside destination for locals and visitors alike.
Located in the Wellington Botanic Gardens, the Space Place at Carter Observatory is a must-visit attraction if you have a love (or even a mild interest) for astronomy and the cosmos. The centre runs multiple exhibits and programs, providing one of the most mind-expanding ways to spend an afternoon in the beautiful Botanic Gardens.
One of Wellington’s oldest buildings, Old St Paul’s Cathedral in Thorndon is an important stop if you’re interested in local history – especially if you find architecture fascinating. Steeped in heritage, Old St Paul’s is a Wellington institution that provides a beautiful window into life and design at the turn of the 20th century.