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Offbeat and vibrant, our capital city offers plenty to explore. Here are the most unmissable experiences.
1. The views from Wellington Cable Car.
For panoramic views of the city and its harbour, it’s hard to top the historic Wellington Cable Car. It’s a short journey between Lambton Quay and charming Kelburn, and at the top, you’ll find a free museum and incredible views. Kelburn, one of the capital’s oldest suburbs, is well worth a wander: You’ll find a village atmosphere, with the Church of St Michaels & All Angels, a bakery and welcoming pub — plus a mix of cosy cafes, boutique shops and antique dealerships. Explore further with a stroll along the pristine pathways of Wellington Botanic Garden, with 25 hectares of protected native forest, plant collections and stunning seasonal displays.
2. The foodie scene of the city centre.
This isn’t exactly a hot take, but Wellington’s food and beer scene is one of the best in the country. Craft beer lovers already know they’ll be spoiled for choice in the city that gives us Garage Project, Fortune Favours and ParrotDog. Make like the name at Double Vision Brewing in Miramar or join the locals at Fork & Brewer.
Whoops! We were meant to be talking about food. The restaurants are just as tempting, with loads of award-winning chefs doing everything from fine dining ([A] Atlas, anyone?) to yum cha (Dragons) to hearty fare in historic settings (Boulcott Street Bistro). Don’t miss brunch at Egmont Street Eatery, a hidden gem in one of the city’s Melbournesque laneways.
3. The wines of Martinborough.
With more than 20 cellar doors — most within easy walking or cycling distance of the village square — Martinborough spoils you for choice. Book in for lunch and a glass of wine or join an intimate wine tasting. In fact, why choose when you can cycle between wineries?
4. The untouched nature of Kapiti Island.
This tranquil island is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful nature reserves. And because it’s accessible only to visitors travelling with approved tour operators, it’s got the feel of a private island. Watch for rare birds, explore tracks through unspoiled bush and tackle the 521m peak for panoramic views of the ocean and mainland.
5. The iconic exhibitions of Te Papa.
Our national museum is home to fascinating and beautifully curated installations telling the stories behind our country. Expect exceptional and dynamic looks at Maori identity, social history, Gallipoli and more. What’s more, entry is free! To get more in-depth, join a guided tour.
6. The wildlife at Zealandia ecosanctuary.
This incredible spot has an ambitious goal: A 500-year vision to restore a part of Wellington Valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The resulting ecosanctuary is massive — 225 hectares to be exact — and it’s reintroduced more than 20 native species back into the area. Get the most from your visit with a guided tour; we especially love the Zealandia by Night, which gives you a sporting chance to see kiwi in their element.
7. The magic of Weta Workshop and Miramar.
Home to the film-making geniuses behind the likes of Lord of the Rings, King Kong, District 9 and The Avengers, Weta Workshop is one-stop movie geek fulfilment. The Weta Cave is a fantastic free attraction, but to really delve in, fans will love the guided tour.
There's so much more where that came from. Maybe it's time to start exploring your own backyard!