New Zealands Capital City
When it comes to visiting New Zealand, most visitors head toward Auckland or Christchurch, or one of the coastal cities or the inland mountain regions. While they are busy exploring those worthwhile destinations, though, they are overlooking the vibrant and dynamic city of Wellington, the Kiwi capital.
With flights to Wellington at rock bottom rates these days, it’s easy to spend a romantic weekend there, or bring the whole family for a few days of fun and togetherness. There are plenty of accommodations for all budgets and tastes, world-class restaurants and plenty of attractions to keep visitors of all ages busy. So what are you waiting for? Use this guide to plan your wonderful weekend in Wellington.
Where to Stay
Whether you want to stay in a five-star luxury hotel, a romantic bed and breakfast or an affordable, no-frills hostel, there is a place for you here. For the ultimate in high-end luxury, book a room at the Bolton Hotel, a boutique hotel located within walking distance of the business district and Lambton Quay. If a stunning view is important to you, stay at the Amora Hotel Wellington, where nearly every room offers a city or harbor view. From the Amora you can easily walk to the waterfront for shopping and dining.
If your pockets are slightly less deep, Wellington has multiple accommodations designed specifically for backpackers and those on a tight budget. Meet up with other backpackers at Trek Global, or enjoy all of the comforts of home at the comfortable Nomads Capital. Honeymooners and those looking for a few days away would do well to reserve a room at one of the many bed and breakfast inns; try Lambton Heights for romantic rooms with stunning views of the city.
What to Do
Once you’ve settled into your room in Wellington, you’ll want to get out and explore – and there is plenty to do and see.
Hop on one of the Wellington cable cars to explore some of the highlights of the city. The cable car travels to the highest point of the Wellington Botanic Gardens as well as the Carter Observatory, where you can view the nighttime sky. If city views are more your thing, take the short drive to the peak of Mount Victoria, where you can take in views of the entire city and Wellington Harbor.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is another must-visit. This unusual museum chronicles the development of New Zealand and her people, and houses the National Art Collection. Literature lovers will enjoy the Writer’s Walk along the Wellington Waterfront. The Walk includes 15 sculptures featuring the words of writers, all of whom called Wellington home at some point in their lives.
If you’ve brought the kids along, there are plenty of opportunities for them to get up close and personal with some native New Zealand wildlife. Visit the Wellington Zoo to see more than 500 species of animals and birds, including the kiwi, the national bird of New Zealand, or visit the native fur seal colony at Red Rocks just a ten minute drive from the city. During the evening, visit the Karori Sanctuary just outside of the city for the ZEALANDIA experience. In this one-of-a-kind experience, you’ll have a guided, torchlight tour of the sanctuary and the chance to encounter the unique night time sights and sounds of the New Zealand bush.
If you haven’t seen enough of Wellington on your first day, you can always take a tour that hits the city’s highlights. Take a free tour of the Parliament, the seat of New Zealand’s government, or sign up for one of the many food, shopping or exploration tours. Lord of the Rings fans will enjoy one of the Wellington Rover tours of the sets and sights from the popular films.
Spending a weekend in Wellington is guaranteed to be exhilarating, exciting and unforgettable. Even in just a few days, you can experience some of the quintessentially Kiwi attractions and develop an appreciation for this oft-overlooked locale. In fact, after your weekend in Wellington, you’ll probably start planning your next – longer – visit right away.
Kandy Richards is a travel blogger who has lived in several cities around the world, including Wellington. Although she now lives in California, she dreams of moving back to New Zealand one day