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Wellington Itineraries New Zealand
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Wellington Itineraries

by Experience Oz staff

Exploring New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is a relative breeze given its logical layout and reasonably small size for a capital.

However, as with most other cities brimming with charming culture and a significant amount of interesting history and architecture, it’s by no means easy to figure out an efficient and enjoyable itinerary if you’re operating on limited time.

From varied architecture dating back to the 19th century to lively shopping and dining districts to sectors rich in modern art-deco design, Wellington has plenty to offer not only within its boundaries but in the surrounding nature-covered areas as well.

In an attempt to make things easier for first-time visitors planning a Wellington itinerary for their holiday, we’ve put together a recommended itinerary list for stays of lengths 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 days in Wellington. Our aim is to provide you with what we believe is the best possible combination of seeing and experiencing all the essential things to do in this must-visit part of New Zealand.

Here are our recommendations:


Day 1

Look out from Mount Victoria Lookout

Get your bearings and enjoy the fabulous view at Mount Victoria Lookout. No visit to a city is complete without taking in its best available panorama, and Wellington’s answer to this is the lookout point from Mount Victoria that provides a lovely showcase of the city as well as the surrounding hills and waters of the Cook Strait.

It’s fairly easily accessible, too – all it requires is a short drive up from the city to the main parking area, while the more physically-inclined (or those with more free time) may instead wish to take the scenic walking track from its base.

Wellington Itineraries Mount Victoria Lookout New Zealand

The mountain is 198 metres high, and the 360-degree perspective is well worth the effort if walking – or money if taking public transport – to come to its summit.

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Ride the Wellington Cable Car

One of Wellington’s longstanding icons, the Cable Car has been in operation in some form since back in 1902 and is both a scenic and efficient way to navigate to some of the city’s highlights.

Wellington Itineraries Cable Car New Zealand

We recommend taking a one-way ticket to the top and then making your way back down to the bottom via the Wellington Botanic Gardens – a lovely floral display that is also one of the city’s top attractions.

Suggested Post: Top 10 Things to do in Wellington

You can purchase your Cable Car ticket on its own from the desk or you can visit and ride up as part of a day tour of the city.

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Day 2

Walk along Oriental Bay

The influence of water and sea travel has played a large part in Wellington’s history as a port city, and its waterfront area of Oriental Bay offers a fabulous section of sandy beach coupled with easy access to numerous eateries and other entertainment options.

Suggested Post: The best time to visit Wellington

Take a stroll, grab breakfast, and enjoy the seaside atmosphere.

Visit Zealandia

Those interested in New Zealand’s native wildlife will be in for a treat in Wellington, as the city’s suburbs are home to the excellent Zealandia attraction.

Wellington Itineraries Zealandia New Zealand

Part wildlife park, part tour, and part conservation sanctuary; Zealandia boasts a wonderful natural setting of forests, lakes and streams and allows visitors to get up close to an array of unique NZ birdlife such as Takahe, Kaka, Tui and more – as well as the iconic Kiwi bird.

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Explore the iconic Weta Cave

There’s no denying the impact Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies have had on New Zealand’s worldwide fame, and at the Weta Cave in Wellington, you’ll be able to get a firsthand look at some of the magic behind these films.

Wellington Itineraries Weta Cave New Zealand

The guided tour provides you with an insight into the technology and creativity required to make these movies come to life and is a must-visit for Tolkien fans.

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Day 3

Visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Perhaps the premier cultural attraction in all of New Zealand, this museum is one of the most extensive showcases of historical artefacts and exhibits in the country.

Featuring over 200,000 individual items spread out over an expansive 6 floors, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is home to an in-depth showcase of native Maori as well as European exhibits that number enough to occupy a whole day for history buffs.

Wellington Itineraries Museum of New Zealand Te Papa

At the very least, you’ll want to spend half a day here as you aim to sample the likes of Pacific art, natural history, and various other interesting curated items. Guided tours are also available for some extra insight (fees apply) and are ideal for those operating on a limited schedule who want to take in the main highlights.

You can also embark on a guided tour of the museum to learn all about the exhibits and the history of the museum itself.

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Enjoy a coffee on Cuba Street

This little slice of bohemia is home to a great combination of boutique shopping and some of Wellington’s best coffee.

It’s a pleasure simply strolling along and browsing its offerings while indulging your taste buds. Situated just to the south of the CBD, it’s heavily influenced by the Carribean and a surprisingly different look at life in Wellington.

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Day 4

Explore the Hutt Valley on foot or wheels

On the 4th day, head outside the city to the nearby Hutt Valley – a scenic area that consists of a number of tracks of varying difficulty and slopes. Perhaps the most popular of these is the Hutt River Trail, a gentle and accessible track that follows the Hutt River that’s suitable for all fitness levels.

Spanning a distance of 28km, the track passes through a variety of types of scenery including parks, swimming holes and much more and its the ideal way to soak up some sunshine when the weather is nice.

Wellington Itineraries Hutt Valley New Zealand

Those looking to explore the region on 2 wheels instead of 2 feet can instead embark on the more epic Rimutaka Trail – an expansive 115km long track that has been dubbed one of the world’s most incredible rides. Crossing a range of wild terrain while offering relatively easy riding conditions, it’s a must-do for mountain biking junkies and outdoor enthusiasts, in general.

Dine at an award-winning restaurant

Culinary culture plays a large part in the Wellington lifestyle, and as a result, the city is home to numerous high-quality restaurants each with their own distinct cuisine and individual flair.

Suggested Post: Top 10 Restaurants in Wellington

Day 5

Jump on the Interislander Ferry

Much more than just merely a method of transport between New Zealand’s north and south islands, the Interislander Ferry that connects Wellington with the port of Picton makes for quite the epic journey in and of itself.

Covering a distance of 92km and taking roughly 3 hours to complete, the trip offers some wonderful views as it plies its trade along the waters of the Cook Strait. The vessel features spacious decks that are great for getting unobstructed views and also contains a number of facilities on board including a restaurant, a range of movies and more.

Wellington Itineraries Inter Islander Ferry New Zealand Cook Strait

The waterway is a haven for marine life, and during the journey it’s not uncommon to see the likes of dolphins, seals, whales and even orcas along the way.

Once you arrive in Marlborough on the south island, you’ll want to take the time to explore this popular wine-rich region of NZ. Whether you’re looking to stay overnight and return to Wellington, or simply continue on your journey to explore more of the south island.

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In addition, if you are looking for further ideas on activities, attractions and other things to do in Wellington, don’t hesitate to check out our main Wellington region section for an extended catalogue of things to do!

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