Mount Victoria lookout
Mount Victoria (196m) offers the best views of the city. The lookout is up a short flight of steps giving magnificent panoramic views of the city, surrounding hills, Cook Strait, Hutt valley and eastern harbour bays. Next to the car park you will find the Byrd Memorial, a triangular construction covered with multicoloured tiles, honouring US aviator and Antarctic explorer Richard Byrd - the first man to fly over the South Pole. It is a steep climb, but you can drive to the top or take bus #20.
Wellington Botanical Gardens
Address: off Tinakori Rd, Thorndon. Or access from the Cable Car
Tel: 04 499 1400 (Treehouse visitor Centre)
Hours: sunrise to sunset
The Botanical Gardens cover 62 acres, a peaceful and leafy enclave high above the city. The Kelburn cable car is the best way to get there. The Gardens were established in 1891 and include areas of protected native forest and ornamental flower beds. A leaflet and map available at the Wellington visitor centre will help you make the most of your visit. One of the highlights of the visit is the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, which hosts a spectacular collection of 300 varieties of roses. The Begonia House shows off tropical and temperate plants, including orchids and water lilies. The garden is also home to the Bolton Street Memorial Park where Richard Seddon, New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Minister and many of Wellington’s early pioneers are buried.
The Carter Observatory is another key attraction within the gardens. You can see the wonders of the Southern Hemisphere's night sky on Tuesday and Saturday nights (telescope viewings weather permitting). Daytime visits include a planetarium show, interactive presentations and Polynesian and Maori astronavigation.
Hours: 10am to 5pm (9.30pm on Tuesday and Saturday). Closed 25th/26th December.
Tel: 04 381-6755, 04 389-3692
Admission: NZ$20 adults, NZ$9 children (3-14), NZ$58 family (2 adults, 3 children);
Hours: open daily from 9.30am till 5pm, except Christmas Day
Wellington Zoo presents some of New Zealand's best native animals and boasts around 500 animals, including 100 different species. It is renowned for its work with endangered species, such as the Sumatran tiger, and is the only place in Wellington where you can see the brown kiwi (Kiwi House: open daily 9:30am–5pm).
The Close Encounters programme offers the chance to hand-feed animals such as a red panda (must be 6+), a giraffe (6 and over), or the big cats (14 and over). All proceeds go towards conservation projects. Another new feature is the state-of-the-art animal hospital, The Nest, where a glassed-in gallery allows you to observe the surgical rooms, with zoo staff giving a running commentary (10am–4pm daily).
Look out for Wild Summer Nights in February and March, when you can spend an evening at the zoo, and bring a picnic.
Karori Wildlife Sanctuary
Address: Waiapu Rd, Karori
Tel: 04 920 9200
Admission: NZ$14 adults; NZ$6 children; NZ$34 family. NZ$28-NZ$60 guided tours
Hours: daily 10am-5pm; closed on Christmas Day
Open to the public since the beginning of 2001, the sanctuary covers around 600 acres and is home to rare native wildlife such as kiwis, saddlebacks and tuataras. The guided bush walk (1h30) allows visitors to explore this cutting-edge conservation project – recreating a little corner of NZ as it were before humans. Tracks require moderate fitness and sensible shoes, but if you explore alone you can take your time. Night tours are a real treat and start 30 minutes before sunset. Allow half a day at least to get the most from the sanctuary.
The New Dowse Art Museum
Location: Lower Hutt, approx.12 miles out of Wellington city
Tel: 04 570 6500
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-4:30pm; Sat-Sun and holidays 10am-5pm
Free admission, except some temporary exhibitions
The New Dowse Art Museum has the best collection of New Zealand Craft Art in the country. Exhibitions feature contemporary ceramics, jewellery, glass, textiles, wood, sculpture, photography, and regular temporary exhibitions.
The Weta Cave – Lord of the Rings Museum
Address: Camperdown Road, Miramar
Tel: 04 380 9361
Hours: daily from 9am till 5.30pm; closed 1st January, 25th April, 25th/26th December
The Lord of the Rings trilogy has drawn a large number of visitors keen to see the movie’s locations and they can now have a look at the multi–Academy Award–winning Weta operation in the mini-museum. The cave like space brings you face to face with characters, props and displays from the movies – and other well-known movies like King Kong and Narnia. A memorable visit for children and adults alike. The visit is free though the store is hard to resist: Weta designed clothing, jewellery and mementoes, as well as collectable items, including limited editions and hard-to-find miniatures.
Seal Coast Safari
Departure: from Wellington i-SITE Visitor Information Centre at 10.00am and 1.30pm daily.
The 3-hour Seal Coast Safari takes you through private land in 4x4 vehicles, a rugged drive with stunning scenery: you can see ostriches, deer and wild Kaimanawa horses and you finally reach Tongue Point, home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals. Take in the beauty of their natural habitat and experience the crashing waves and famous Leaning Lighthouse.
Wellington Adventures & sport
Many visitors come to Wellington to enjoy the outdoors: there are endless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and four wheel driving in and around Wellington. Lyall Bay is a magnet for surfers and Makara Peak is a popular spot for mountain biking enthusiasts.
There are gentle walks around the city, through the Botanic Garden and around Oriental Parade, as well as more challenging ones to Mount Victoria and in the surrounding area. Wellington visitor centre provides excellent Heritage Trail brochures on all the walks. One of the most popular ones is the Red Rocks Costal Walk (4km each way) which takes you along the coastline to an unusual volcanic rock formation. Birdwatchers will also enjoy the Northern Walkway.
There are a number of golf courses within 25 minutes of Wellington city.
Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club,
Address: 376 Kapiti Rd, Paraparaumu Beach
Tel. 04 298 4561
The 18-hole is rated one of the top 50 courses in the world. Advance booking advisable.
Hutt Golf Club,
Address: Military Road, Lower Hutt
Tel. 04 567 4722;
Karori Golf Club
Address: South Makara Road
Tel. 04 476-7337;
This is a great way to explore Oriental Parade. Skates can be hired from Fergs Kayaks, Queens Wharf.
Tel. 04 4998898
Fergs Kayaks is owned by New Zealand's famous canoeist and Olympic gold medallist Ian Ferguson. You can paddle on your own or join a guided group. They organise night harbour tours (NZ$70 per person for 2 1/2 hours) with soup and snacks at the end.
Tamarillo Sea Kayaking,
Tel. 025 244 1616
Sea-kayaking experience around Kapiti Island.
For bike rentals, contact
Penny Farthing Cycles
Address: 89 Courtenay Place
Tel. 04 385 2279
Tel. 04 476 4961
back to top
Disclaimer: We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information.