Keep it cool: the best things to do in Wellington

Quirky, cultural, culinary – Wellington is one cool cat.

Aerial view of Wellington city at twilight.
  • Jetstar
  • December 2021

Sitting pretty at the bottom end of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington is one of those understated cities that quietly packs a punch. It’s compact and cultural, with a slew of galleries, theatres and museums to immerse yourself in. It’s got signature NZ natural beauty, sitting on a glittering harbour and surrounded by scenic hills rich in walking and biking tracks. It’s also rich in craft breweries and a knockout food scene. The capital city is the perfect microcosm of New Zealand’s urban charms and outdoor wonders.

Eat up at Hannahs Laneway

Pack an appetite and head to Hannahs Laneway in the heart of Wellington. This little strip is crammed with a gob-smacking array of gourmet delights that’ll give you a true taste of Wellington. A humble piece of toast becomes a revelation at Fix & Fogg. Have a knockout hot chocolate at Wellington Chocolate Factory or a craft beer at Fortune Favours. Stop by the Gorilla food truck for a juicy flavourbomb of a burger or get on a sugar high with the brownies at Lashings.

Two people standing in the doorway at Wellington Chocolate Factory, Hannahs Laneway, Wellington. Image credit: Camilla Rutherford
Everyone’s a winner at Hannahs Laneway. Image credit: Camilla Rutherford

Go behind the scenes at Wētā Workshop

New Zealand is known for its filmmaking industry. Here in Wellington, you can go behind the scenes at the Academy Award-winning Wētā Workshop and learn all about how movie magic is made, from effects and props to creatures and costumes. The creatives here have crafted things for films including The Hobbit, Avatar, Narnia, King Kong and many more. Explore amazing miniature sets and wander the tempting retail store for collectibles.

A close-up of a troll, one of the creatures made at Wētā Workshop, Wellington, New Zealand.
Don’t mess with the troll at Wētā Workshop.

Be amazed by Te Papa museum

Translating to 'container of treasures', Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is an incredibly popular, cutting-edge museum. It features six storeys of interactive exhibits and attracts 30 million visitors a year. Come and learn about Māori culture and get immersed in ancient and contemporary art (there’s an interactive space where your mood controls the lighting). The Gallipoli exhibit was created in collaboration with the Wētā Workshop, with large-scale models and 3D maps that feel completely real.

The grey brick exterior of the Museum of New Zealand, with a moat and glass walkway, Wellington.
This popular museum is contemporary, interactive and a must-see.

Discover the Wairarapa wine region

Just an hour’s drive from Wellington, you’ll find the small but mighty Wairarapa wine region. There are more than 60 vineyards spread across Martinborough and Cape Palliser, and the region is especially known for its acclaimed pinot noir. Pick up a wine map, hire a bike and take a leisurely, self-guided tour of this wonderful wine country, or book a day tour from Wellington. Even if you’re not into wine, this is a beautiful patch of earth to explore. Take a coastal walk along Riversdale and Castlepoint Beach or bushwalk in the Tararua Forest.

Two people in a buggy on vineyard-fringed road in Martinborough, Waipara wine region, New Zealand. Image credit: Camilla Rutherford
Set your own pace in Martinborough. Image credit: Camilla Rutherford

Linger in Lower Hutt

Hop on a ferry and, in 15 minutes, find yourself in lovely Lower Hutt – a little patch with something for everyone. There are scenic walking trails, stunning coastlines, nature sanctuaries and seaside villages with galleries, boutiques, cafes, and New Zealand’s first lighthouse. Explore the petite, beachside neighbourhood of Petone, with its mix of historic settlers’ cottages, vintage stores, and the multicultural dining scene along Jackson Street.

The beach at Petone at sunset, with people and a dog silhouetted on the shore, New Zealand.
Pretty Petone sunsets – just one of Lower Hutt’s many charms.