Wellington Travel Guide: The Coolest Little Capital
Wellington, New Zealand, was deemed “The Coolest Little Capital” by Lonely Planet, and it certainly lives up to the name! Located on the North Island of New Zealand, Wellington is filled with outdoor adventure, arts and culture, delicious cuisine, and quirky festivals. The city is famous for its vibrant creative culture fueled by great food, wine, craft beer, and coffee.
Our New Zealand travel experts have put together this Wellington travel guide with the top things to see and do!
360° views from the top of Mt Victoria. Image: Wellington Tourism
Wellington fits perfectly into the outdoor adventure culture of New Zealand. Adventure activities abound, including hiking, sea kayaking, bungy jumping, and fantastic mountain biking. Popular areas for hitting the trails include Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park, Te Kopahou Reserve, and Hutt Valley.
Want to enjoy nature at a more relaxed pace? Grab a bottle of local wine and take a short hike to the top of Mt Victoria, where you can enjoy 360° views of the city. Or head over to Zealandia, a beautiful nature reserve that has been restored to the way New Zealand looked thousands of years ago.
Scenic cycling trails in and around Wellington. Image: Wellington Tourism
Art & Film
Many films have been created in Wellington, most famously Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series. You can visit some Lord of the Rings movie sites around Wellington and tour the fascinating Weta Workshop, where props and special effects for the movies were created.
Wellington is also home to Te Papa National Museum, showcasing New Zealand’s history, art, and people. Spend a free afternoon here (many exhibitions are free), or ask us about private museum tours!
If you want to experience Wellington’s more avant-garde side, don’t miss the World of WearableArt Show in September and October! The World of WearableArt, known as WOW, is a renowned international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries worldwide. The annual Awards Show highlights the innovative, over-the-top entries in a true spectacle for the senses, where fashion, art, and theatre collide.
The Wellington airport is full of larger-than-life Lord of the Rings sculptures. Image: Wellington Tourism
The World of WearableArt Awards Show blends fashion, art, and theatre. Image: Wellington Tourism
Food & Drink
Wellington is not only known for their adventure but also for their diverse restaurants and bars. The city offers a wide range of cuisine, from Asian, European, and locally inspired food. Here are some of our favorite spots in Wellington:
- Field & Green: Specializing in European comfort food, this restaurant will make you feel warm on the inside with a welcoming ambiance.
- Egmont Street Eatery: Named one of the city’s coolest eateries, Egmont Street Eatery is located in a renovated carpark with local produce, craft beer, wine, and caffeine to suite your fancy.
- Chameleon: The Chameleon, located in the InterContinental Wellington, focuses on sustainably sourced produce like eco-farmed pork, locally caught fish, and organic salad greens.
- Hillside Kitchen: Looking for a meatless meal option while in Wellington? Hillside Kitchen is completely vegetarian. The head chef celebrates produce on its own, rather than creating substitutes for meat; all ingredients are foraged within the region.
- Loretta: This aesthetically pleasing restaurant is open all times of the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’re looking for a quick drip coffee or a full shared dinner, Loretta is an amazing place to check out.
- Customs Brew Bar: Located just off of Cuba Street, Customs Brew Bar is the perfect place to try a cup of Wellington’s famously good coffee with a delicious breakfast.
Wellington is known as the craft beer capital of New Zealand and is perfect for wine lovers, as well! Here are some top spots in Wellington for a good drink:
- Little Beer Quarter: Little Beer Quarter is Wellington’s beer geek heaven! With 14 rotating taps, 2 handpulls, and over 100 beers in the fridge, LBQ pours the best of the best from New Zealand’s craft beer scene, plus great international beer, cider, and New Zealand wines.
- Night Flower: Craving an old fashioned cocktail? Night Flower takes your favorite cocktails and puts a modern spin on them.
- Forresters Lane: Forresters Lane is welcoming, with a warm and friendly ambiance and seasonal cocktails.
- Crumpet: This spot is amazing for a midday cocktail paired with some crumpets or even better for a date-night glass of pinot.
- CGR Merchant & Co: CGR stands for coffee, gin, rum—exactly what’s on the menu at CGR Merchant & Co! This bar has great options for unique flavored drinks, like salted caramel rum or balsamic fig gin.
- Black Dog Brewery: While slightly out of the main party zone, Black Dog is a great spot for a quiet brew, and the staff love to experiment with their beers.
- Golding’s Free Dive: Golding’s Free Dive offers the best craft beers and microbrews from New Zealand and the USA. A cozy neighborhood feel and friendly staff make this an ideal spot for a relaxing drink with the locals.
Delicious cocktails at Crumpet. Image: Wellington Tourism