New Zealand’s capital is a lively and welcoming city – and best of all, many of its top attractions for tourists won’t cost you a cent. Here’s how to enjoy Wellington for free on your next trip to “Windy Wellington“, New Zealand’s capital city.
Enjoy Wellington for Free
Enjoy a stroll through the Botanical Gardens
Downhill is easier on the legs but if you’re after a hike with a view, follow the marked trail uphill through the Botanical Gardens. This park was laid out early in the city’s history and remains one of Wellington’s many well-used green spaces. Stroll amidst native plants, follow shady woodland paths and check out some of the country’s most endangered specimen plants. Feed the ducks at the duck pond. You’ll find bags of maize in the box, so don’t be tempted to take your own bread. When you reach the top, check out the panoramic views over the city and its harbour.
Take a walk through history in the cable car museum
Not much more than a century ago, there’d have been few houses in the hills overlooking Wellington; but all that changed with the construction of a funicular railway linking what would become the lofty suburbs with the central business district below. The wooden cars were canned in the 1970s for safety reasons, after a man was run over by a brakeless tram. Not long afterwards, they were replaced by the cable car you’ll ride today. In the cable car museum, see for yourself how engineers changed the city’s morphology, marvel at the preserved winding gear and hop on board a fully restored vintage tram.
Admire the dock cranes along the waterfront
Wellington’s dock cranes are an unmissable part of the harbour front landscape, along with many pleasure craft and working boats that make this a fascinating maritime city to this day. It costs nothing to blow the cobwebs away and learn why the city got its nickname, Windy Welly. In winter, you’ll also be able to enjoy the light installations of the popular Lux festival. Day or night, there’s a plethora of cafes and restaurants serving fresh seafood and a eye-widening range of the craft beers for which the city is famous, though you’ll have to pay for those, of course.
Learn about New Zealand at Te Papa
The excellent Te Papa museum costs nothing to visit; and yet its intriguing displays are enough to keep you occupied all day. Discover how migrants shaped the country’s multicultural heritage. Immerse yourself in Maori culture and learn about the contribution of the wider Pacific region to New Zealand’s identity. Make time to pop out on the terrace on the sixth floor for another marvellous view over the harbour.
The excellent guided tours around the iconic Beehive and adjacent Parliament House run every hour. You’ll visit the now defunct upper house – they voted themselves out of a job in 1950 – and find out in the lower house why one MP’s chair has a sheepskin cover. In the bowels of the building, learn how retro-fitted base isolators protect from the risk of a severe earthquake. In the marble and wood lobby, you’ll encounter a bust of suffragette Kate Sheppard. If you’ve been observant on the way in; you’ll have seen that the crosswalk signs in this part of the city take the form of suffragettes like her instead of the usual form of a striding green man.