If you’ve heard one thing about Wellington, it’s likely to do with its weather.
What you may not have heard, is the city holds a vibrant art, culture and dining scene, along with nature escapes and elevated views within the city centre.
In just over three hours from Brisbane Airport, you can touch down on the North Island’s most southern city.
What are you waiting for? Hold onto your hat and explore Wellington with this guide.
1. Enjoy a taste of Havana
Taking after its namesake in the Caribbean, Cuba Street is known for its alternative shops, independent cafes and colourful streetscapes.
As one of Wellington’s best-known and most-loved streets, it’s the perfect place to start your tour of Wellington.
If you’ve touched down in the morning, grab an espresso at Midnight Espresso or fuel up with brunch at Fidel’s Café before exploring the local shops filled with rare books, trinkets or vintage clothing.
When the sun sets, you’ll find everything from casual dumplings to degustations, as well as quirky cocktail bars for your evening tipple.
2. Beer hop(s) around the city
Get ready to taste locally made ales, pilsners and stouts, one microbrewery at a time.
Add an educational element to your beer tour with a stop at Parrotdog Brewery, for an introduction to the brewing process and a chance to wet your whistle tasting five of their different brews on their brewery tour.
With over 20 breweries within the city centre and surrounding suburbs, here are a few local favourites to get you started: Whistling Sisters, Mean Doses, Waitoa Social Club, Heyday Brewing Co, Black Dog Brewery, Double Vision Brewing, Garage Project.
3. Have a cultural experience
While museums are often known for the artefacts and exhibitions housed inside them, Te Papa Museum is equally as famous for the exterior of its building.
Built with a purpose, to reflect New Zealand’s history and evolving identity, you’ll want to allow time to explore the two ‘faces’ of the building – the Maori face and the European face.
Taking four years to build, with enough reinforcing steel to stretch from Wellington to Sydney and measuring three rugby fields (the standard measurement for New Zealand) – this is one experience not to be rushed.
4. Check out the Weta Cave
Movie buffs – we’re looking at you.
If you know The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies, then don’t board your return flight to BNE without a visit to Weta Caves.
Playing a crucial role in the film industry for the past 25 years, this award-winning creative workshop has contributed to the likes of Avatar, Chronicles of Narnia as well as bringing Gollum to life.
Book a tour or interactive session to learn how special effects, make-up and sculpting is used in feature films.
If you don’t have time for a tour, stop by the Weta Caves Shop and mini museum to see collectibles, movie prop replicas and have your Instagrammable moment with the oversized troll in the shop garden.
5. Keep an eye on the sky at Carter Observatory
What was once a city observatory nearly 100 years ago, is now a place to learn about what shines from above.
Located at the top of the Wellington Botanic Gardens, Carter Observatory shares the story of the southern skies with multimedia exhibits and interactive galleries.
For the full experience, check the planetarium film schedule, which includes a 15-minute live Night’s Sky presentation for a lesson on the night skies.
6. Explore the Putangirua Pinnacles
Add more bragging rights to your holiday by adding Putangirua Pinnacles to your Wellington itinerary.
You’ll need to allow a two-hour drive (each way) to see these landmarks (which incidentally also starred in two Lord of the Rings films), which are found close to Palliser Bay, east of Wellington.
The tall shards of rock that make up the landscape were formed over seven million years ago when scree and gravel cascaded down from an eroding mountain and floodwaters cemented the elements together.
Best explored by foot, choose one of the three trails to explore along the base or climb to the top of the lookout.
7. Take a walk around the Wellington Botanic Garden
Combine city views with a colourful display of flowers at Wellington Botanic Garden.
Spread over 25 hectares on the top of a hill between Thorndon and Kelburn, near central Wellington, the Botanic Garden is home to protected native forest as well as specialised plant collections.
Recognised as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, it has over 15 curated collections, including a Rose Garden with 110 formal beds and Native Bush – with a native tree dating back over 200 years.
To make the most of its elevated position, take the cable car from Cable Car Lane to enjoy city views while you rise towards the gardens.
If you choose to drive, you can still catch the 180-degree city views from the Cable Car Lookout.
8. Mount Victoria Lookout
By now you might have noticed a common theme with Wellington – it’s mountainous and those hills offer spectacular city views.
Located in Wellington’s city centre, Mount Victoria provides 360-degree views of the city, the harbour and the Pacific Ocean.
Depending on how active you feel - choose from a 1.5-hour loop (4.6 kilometres) starting at Oriental Bay or a 45-minute loop (2.6 kilometres) via the city centre.
PLAN YOUR TRAVEL
BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT