While known for many a good thing, its thriving cultural arts scene, its vintage boutiques and creative energy, it is not known for its weather. What to do in Wellington NZ can pose a problem on those notoriously wet n’windy days. I think of it as a mini San Francisco with fewer homeless people. The men of Wellington seem to have figured out the way to deal with the weather is to grow a woolly beard and wear the itchiest looking jumper they can find. Girls have opted to ignore it all together and wear whatever the hell they want!
My advice would be to layer up. Prepare for all seasons because you’ll probably experience all 4 within a bank holiday weekend. But don’t bother yourself with an umbrella. You will only lose it the wind, whose sole purpose in life is to make you look like an idiot with bad hair. Once dressed for the occasion, you can pretty much do anything Welly has to offer.
What to do in Wellington NZ
Oriental Bay, like all beaches really, is more enjoyable in the sun (unless you’re so quirky cool that you ‘prefer the cold’). However, if you’re only in Wellington for a short Winter break, it’s still worth a stroll to see Wellington at its prettiest. If you’re the kind of fitness enthusiast who needs to go for a run on holidays, it is the ideal spot. Wellingtonians are famous coffee fanatics so be sure to stop in one of the many cafes along the bay for a reboot.
If a leisurely stroll is much too slow a pace for you, why not try rollerblading along the waterfront. Pop into Franks Kitts Lagoon on the waterfront to hire out roller blades, roller skates, ripsticks or scooters. If you’re up for a bit of a hike, go to Mount Victoria Lookout where you will see panoramic views of the city and surrounding bays. It’s a great photographic spot and the best place to see the sunset on a clear day.
History & Culture
Wellington has a wealth of museums and art galleries that provide the perfect solution to rainy days in Wellington. The Te Papa Museum is the largest and encapsulates the history of New Zealand in one spot. From Maori art and Culture, to an historic overview of notable earthquakes, indigenous species and political movements, it’s a great way to spend the day learning as much as you can about New Zealand. The free entry also helps brighten up an otherwise gloomy day.
If you still want your cultural kicks, a quick walk will take you to Wellington’s second largest museum, Wellington City and Sea. This museum has a more localised feel, and gives an insight into the sociology of New Zealand as much as it does its history. There is a focus on maritime life, and a stunning movie documentary of the 1968 Wahine disaster. 101 stories of 20th Century Wellington life is a great inclusion into the museum, and has a unique way of humanising history.
Cinema fans should enjoy the Weta Caves, one of the world leading facilities in costume design and special effects. The company have been in business for 20 years and have worked worked on Dr Who, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Godzilla and of course The Lord of the Rings. It opens the public up to some of its creations and props from famous films in a 45 minute tour that’s well worth booking in for. It costs $20 but the small museum and gift shop are free to browse around in if you wish.
Museums and art galleries are not for everyone, but Wellington has a few offerings that might appeal to different tastes. If you’re more interested in what happens above the the skies than below them, the Carter Observatory should keep you entertained. The planetarium shows are open from 10am-5pm and cost $18.50 per adult. If you’ve never been to a planetarium before, you shouldn’t miss this.
If you don’t mind a 50 minute drive, pick up a rental car in Wellington and drive out to the Kapiti coast, the Tuatara Brewery tasting tour will give you a great day out and you can sample some of the local craft beers, with some interesting flavours like dark chocolate, espresso and plum and raisin. The website gives clear directions, whether travelling by car or public transport. If the weather isn’t too bad, a visit to Wellington Zoo is always worth a trip. It’s quite a small zoo but well laid out, very informative and the animals appear happy and well looked after. The sun bears and monkeys I could watch for hours and you can get up close and personal with the kangaroos and wallabies. There’s even an open gallery where you can watch surgeries and they also do late nights with live music.
If all else fails, there’s always the cinema. And Wellington has some great ones. The Embassy is a classic cinematic experience. It’s the oldest custom built cinema in New Zealand, and has retained its 1920’s Gatsby-style aesthetic. With large comfortable seats, a fully stocked bar and adjoining restaurant, it’s not your bog-standard cinema experience. The Roxy is another great retro cinema in Wellington and Paramount is great choice for independent movies. What to do in Wellington opens up the city’s most beloved spots and its most hidden gems. The best thing to do in Wellington really is to go out and explore it all for yourself.