The iconic Wellington cable car. © Berndt Hildebrandt

Loved by the locals: Wellington Central

View the map


1. Eat, drink, shop, bike, walk the waterfront.

Wellington is physically defined by the harbour, and its greatest civic amenity is, without doubt, its waterfront precinct. It’s at once a pedestrian highway, a cycleway, a place to eat, drink, shop, work and play and it’s easily the best place to hang out on one of those days when you can’t beat Wellington.

2. Take the kids to Te Papa Tongarewa

Amongst the best of the numerous galleries in the capital, Te Papa rules, OK. Ever since its inception, it has polarised people, but even its staunchest critics will admit that it has the grace and gravitas to make it a world-class example of the modern museum.

It’s probably skewed towards children with all its interactivity, but it never hurts to rediscover your wonder at the world, especially if you do it alongside your kids.

3. Party on Courtenay Place

There are plenty of places to go in Wellington if you’re middle-aged in years or by temperament, so you probably won’t choose to go to Courtenay Place at night unless you’re heading to the opera, the ballet, the theatre of the movies. This is Wellington’s party district, and it has a constantly changing line-up of bars, clubs and restaurants.

One of the things that makes Wellington so easy to live in is the fact you can walk (or stagger) from place to place without the need to involve cars.

The walkability of Courtenay Place allows you simply to relax and enjoy.

4. Stop and smell the flowers at the Botanical Gardens

The Town Belt was always intended to be Wellington’s lungs, but the Botanical Gardens probably fits this bill these days. It’s a wonderful amenity and it comes into its own in spring and summer, when the blossom and the blooms come out (the tulips have to be seen to be believed) and events such as the annual light show and the Summer Concert Series crank up.

5. Spend time with the raucous residents of Zealandia

Many of those who love the mainland ‘island’ wildlife refuge that is Zealandia don’t even go there: they get the benefit of it in the shape of the native birds that fly out and even breed beyond its predator-proof fence. But the experience of visiting is one of the best-kept secrets in the capital – if not in New Zealand.

It was intended to be an insight into primal New Zealand and it has become so much more, thanks to its unruly and raucous residents: ngā manu, the birds. It’s a joy to spend time in their company.

6. See a game of something at the Cake Tin

The powers don’t like to refer to Sky Stadium as the Cake Tin, but Wellingtonians don’t care about that. It’s not disparagement: it’s affection. After all, it’s a fabulous facility, easily accessed on foot from the hostelry of the CBD or by bus or train from further afield. It’s the perfect size for big events – rugby, cricket or rock concerts.

Explore more...

while you're here

Find out more


Wellington: a capital affair

From the bustling promenade of the waterfront to intimate bars or the pockets of gastronomic pleasure all within walking distance, Wellington is the perfect place to spend a weekend.   Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Heritage and history

Wellington: the coolest capital

If you want real drama, come here by air when Wellington’s on song. For our beloved capital city is synonymous for most Kiwis with wind. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Heritage and history

Wellington Waterfront: where writers' words are cast

Did you know that Wellington's world-class Waterfront is home to the words of some New Zealand's most famous writers? Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Wellington: culture, activities and the weather

From ballet to fashion to art to birds to parliament to gardens – Wellington's got it all (just try to get it on a good day). Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now