Top 5 Things to Do in Wellington on Your First Visit

New Zealand is on the bucket list of many nature lovers. The country is, after all, never short of picturesque landscapes, many of which could be explored and appreciated up-close. Whether you like snow-capped mountains, thriving rainforests, or rolling hills, you will find what you are looking for in the island nation.

But what about the city lovers – does New Zealand have something to offer for them?

The good news is it does. And if you’re after a city that you could explore in just a day or two, then look no further than the country’s capital (and the windiest city in the world!), Wellington.

Wellington sits at the southernmost point of New Zealand’s North Island. Famous for its eclecticism, the capital boasts of its thriving art scene, coffee culture, and bohemian personality. No matter where you are in the city, there is something to look at.

Because Wellington is compact, it will take you no longer than a day or two to explore the best of what it has to offer. So before heading to the nation’s ridges and peaks, why not take a stroll at the capital and…

  1. Have a cup (or three) of coffee

Wellington’s locals are coffee snobs. For a good reason, too – the capital produces the best coffee in New Zealand. Named by CNN as one of the world’s top coffee destinations, it’s a city where most things in life happen over a cup of joe.

When in Wellie, make sure to have a cuppa in one of its many cafes. Visit Frank’s and pair up your flat white with one of their bespoke doughnuts. Feeling drowsy? Go to Flight Coffee Hangar and order one of its tasting flights, or three coffees made with different types of beans. If you want a taste of history go to Midnight Espresso, one of the capital’s first cafes and one of the few that serve late-night coffees.

2. Visit Cuba Street

The most well-known of the city’s streets, Cuba Street is host to everything cool and quirky. From secondhand stores and art galleries to bars, cafes, and ice creams shops, the street reflects Wellington’s heart and soul. One might even say that you could spend your whole day on the street alone!

Cuba Street can tickle the fancy of any traveler. Art lovers will appreciate {Suite} and McLeavey Gallery, both of which celebrate contemporary art. Those scoring vintage clothes might find treasure in Hunters & Collectors, Thrift, Spacesuit, or one of the many other thrift shops along the street. Even ice cream lovers will delight in the variety of choices, and can taste-test any of the flavors in Kaffee Eis, Duck Island, and Zelati (where you can order the Filipino dessert halu-halo)!

3. Soak up the sun at the waterfront

“You can’t beat Wellington on a good day,” is the city’s unofficial slogan. For a good reason, too – when the sun shines, it shines brilliantly on the coastal capital.  Head to the city’s waterfront and see for yourself why it’s a place people keep coming back to!

There’s a range of free activities you could do at the waterfront. Take a walk along Commonwealth Walkway, coffee in hand, and soak up the gorgeous views of the sea. Follow the coastline to head to the city’s two beaches, Freyberg Beach and Oriental Bay Beach, where you could take a dip or work on your tan. And if you’re feeling courageous, why not leap eight meters off Taranaki Wharf’s jump platform to and make a splash in the sea? There’s something for everyone!

A hot tip: Wellington gets a lot of marine visitors. Whatever the season, it’s not unusual to spot sting rays, dolphins, and even orcas and penguins in the waterfront!

4. Visit multiple art galleries

WesAnderson inspired wedding in {Suite}

Living in the windiest city in the world makes you appreciate the indoors. Many Wellingtonians have an artistic streak in them – a streak, perhaps, forged by cooping in whenever the wind gets nasty. This appreciation for art has resulted in a multitude of art galleries in the capital, most of which are free.

Those who are interested in New Zealand’s history can visit Te Papa, the country’s national museum, to learn more about the nation’s roots. If you’re after Maori and New Zealand art and design, head to Kura, which features local carvings, paintings, sculptures, and jewelry. Those with a taste for the contemporary have multiple options, including Enjoy, Adam Art Gallery, and City Gallery, all of which showcase a new line-up of talent on the regular.

5. Experiment the many craft beers

Gone are the days when making craft beer was merely a homebrewer’s hobby – it’s now a full-fledged industry in New Zealand. Wellington is known to have an exciting craft bar scene, and its range of options will leave bar crawlers young and old delighted.

No matter what your palette is, you’ll be sure to find something to your taste. Head to Fork & Brewer to check out its microbrewery while sampling one of the forty beers on tap. Beer geeks will also appreciate Little Beer Quarter, which houses 14 rotating taps, two handpulls, and over a hundred (!) beers in the fridge. Those who want a cheeky pizza with their booze, on the other hand, can go to Goldings Free Dive and order a Neopolitan pizza while sipping one of the establishment’s adventurous craft beers.  

Though New Zealand is more reputed for its great outdoors, its cities can’t be overlooked. So if you’re planning your trip to the country, make sure to stop at Wellington – consider it your fuel for the adventure that awaits you!

Also posted on Tripzilla

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