Wonderful Wellington NZ
When we first planned on travelling to New Zealand, Wellington was not high on our list of must-do locations. It doesn’t have the cosmopolitan vibe of Auckland or the historic pull of Napier or the geothermal wonders of Rotorua. Apart from being the capital city of New Zealand, I really did not know much about Wellington at all.
A chance conversation with friends in the initial planning stages convinced us to give Wellington a go. But we were still far from convinced it was going to be a highlight of our trip to the North Island.
We could not have been more wrong!
Wellington is a wonderful place to explore with kids. The CBD is mostly flat and easy to navigate on foot. There are playgrounds aplenty, cafes and eateries and so many family-friendly attractions to explore.
Here are 8 must-do activities when you visit Wellington with kids!
Explore the Wellington Waterfront
Walking along the harbour-front of Oriental Bay, with its restaurants, attractions and playgrounds is a must do activity during your stay. Everywhere you look there’s something new to catch your eye as you wander along. Look out for the playground with the huge lighthouse to climb, slide and play in – you can’t miss it!
Take the Cable Car to the Botanic Gardens
Riding the cable car to the botanic gardens perched high up overlooking the CBD gives you amazing views of the city. You can check out the Cable Car Museum while you’re there and take a slow wander through the gardens on your way back down, stopping at playgrounds and rest stops along the way.
Space is the Place at Carter Observatory
Not far from the Cable Car Museum, you’ll find Carter Observatory , home to the interactive Space Place exhibit. Space Place is a hands-on, educational and fun place for kids to explore. The observatory also boasts a planetarium and, of course, telescopes to investigate the night sky.
Visit the Interactive Te Papa Museum
Right on the waterfront, you’ll find the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa. This architecturally bold building houses some of the most interactive museum exhibits you’ll find anywhere. Culture, history and science are all fun and, best of all, free, at Te Papa.
Check out The Beehive in the Parliamentary Zone
The Beehive is the most distinctive building in the parliamentary zone, home to New Zealand’s government. Built in the 1970s, it now houses the Visitor Centre where you can take a guided tour or browse the gift shop. There’s also parkland nearby for the kids to explore (and recover from political overload!).
See Behind the Scenes Wonders at Weta Workshop
New Zealand is synonymous with Middle Earth and you can discover all the behind the scenes magic at the amazing Weta Workshop. There are guided tours, props from the Lord of the Rings movies (plus their many other projects) and the Weta Cave, which is more than just your average gift shop!
Say hello to the animals at Wellington Zoo
It’s so much fun discovering the animals and their habitats at Wellington Zoo. With hundreds of animals to meet it’s easy to spend a full day here. There’s a variety of places to eat, picnic tables conveniently located if you want to BYO food and play areas to explore. Just watch out for the over-sized insect & reptile play equipment at the Playground Hub!
Be amazed by the art installations at Wellington Airport
You can’t miss the amazing Middle Earth art installations at Wellington International Airport. Gollum features above the food court, trying to catch fish while you can also see installations from The Hobbit and other The Lord of the Rings characters. It certainly makes Wellington Airport one of the more memorable we’ve visited!
You’re bound to find something to interest your family in Wellington and something to appeal to your child’s special interests. There are attractions linked to science, nature, transport, pop culture, history, geography, politics, the arts and animals. We found Wellington also appealed to Gilbert’s special interest too – pay phones!
We packed a lot into our 3 night visit and I would definitely plan on a longer stay next time around to check out the Zealandia sanctuary, Mount Victoria lookout and to get out onto the harbour itself.
Take it from me, Wellington is far from boring. We found it was the perfect place to end our NZ adventure and recommend it as a destination to other families!
Making the most of your trip
Plan for at least 3 nights in Wellington as that gives you plenty of time to explore the city and it’s surrounds at your own pace. We easily spent a day at the zoo, a day looking around the city and a morning looking around Weta Workshop (although you’ll need to plan for more time here if you’re taking one of their tours).
We used a hire car to get around and found it was easy to navigate the city. You don’t need an international license to drive in NZ if you’re Australian – just make sure you have your state issued drivers license and passport with you for identification.
Talk to your kids about the many activities they can enjoy in Wellington and identify those that cater best to your kids’ interests. Encourage them to choose an activity of their own to look forward to.
If your kids are scared of heights or experience vestibular difficulties, talk to them about the cable car if this is an activity of interest to your family. The cable car moves up the hill at an incline so it can feel strange and unfamiliar at first. It’s a lot of fun and completely safe but it can pose a sensory challenge for some passengers.
It can be blustery in Wellington, particularly closer to the harbour, so make sure you pack jackets and warm clothes when exploring the waterfront.
Good quality walking shoes are also a must as the city centre is flat and great for pedestrians. You’ll also want comfortable shoes when visiting the zoo and the the botanical gardens – there’s lots of walking involved at those attractions.
Wellington is a great destination for families with access to playgrounds, places to eat and spots to rest. It’s an easy location to explore with your family with many attractions within walking distance of the CBD.
Consider part-day outings to limit the risk of overwhelm, anxiety and sensory overload. Otherwise, go forth and enjoy a fun family holiday in NZ’s capital city!
Did you find this article useful? Share it!