Ten unmissable experiences in Wellington

Named on BBC’s Hottest Cities & Rough Guide’s Top 10 Cities for 2015, Wellington was labelled the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ by Lonely Planet.

1. Get your bearings with a stroll to Mount Victoria Lookout

Hugged between a stunning harbour and protected green belt, there’s nothing quite like the view from city to sea at the Mount Victoria Lookout. Watch the ferries sailing in through the harbour and aircraft taking off from Wellington Airport. You can drive all the way up, or walk through the nature trails.  Grab some fish and chips and sit on the grass as the sun goes down and the lights come up. 

2. Get your coffee fix 

Named as one of the top 8 coffee cities in the world by CNN, Wellington knows its brews and beans - it's the perfect place to get your coffee fix. You’re spoilt for choice in New Zealand’s coffee capital and it’s pretty tough to go wrong, but for a typically Wellington brew and vibe, Flight Coffee’s The Hangar is a good place to start for your first dose. 

3. Get up close to giants at Te Papa 

No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to the incredible Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. As well as discovering stories rich in Maori history, the shared Anzac history is commemorated in monumental scale in the new Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition, featuring the figures of seven soldiers and a nurse frozen in a moment in time, crafted by Oscar-winning Weta Workshop at 2.4 times human scale. 

4. Tour dozens of boutique vineyards 

Just over an hour’s drive or train ride from Wellington city will take you to the stunning Wairarapa, one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions. If you’re self-drive, park up at your accommodation or near town and hire a bike from Green Jersey Cycles just up from the picturesque square in Martinborough to cycle your way around some 24 boutique vineyards. For easy access from Wellington, book in a Tranzit Martinborough Gourmet Wine Tour day trip to sample the plummy pinots and delectable olive oils the region is so well-known for. 

5. Discover New Zealand wildlife 

Get up close and personal with a three-eyed prehistoric reptile and New Zealand’s native birds at nature reserve Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience. You can catch a free shuttle from the Wellington i-SITE Visitor Information Centre to this groundbreaking sanctuary, where visitors can even have the chance to meet one of the 40 resident Kiwi on a Night Tour. Over in Wairarapa visit the home of rare little white kiwi at Pukaha Mount Bruce

6. Discover movie-making magic 

Oscar-winning Weta Workshop have worked on some of the biggest and most ambitious movie projects of our generation. A behind-the-scenes tour at the workshop headquarters reveals the incredible artistry and remarkable Kiwi innovation, as well as a few industry secrets. And of course a visit to The Lord of the Rings locations with Wellington Rover Tours is a must for Middle‑earth fans. 

7. New Zealand Festival 

New Zealand Festival, held in February 2016, is the largest multi-arts festival in the country. It is a showcase of local and global theatre, music, visual arts and everything in between. This year’s line-up includes productions from the critically acclaimed choreographer or “high priestess of dance theatre” (The Guardian), Pina Bausch, along with an avian-inspired light and sound experience in the midst of native bush, a waterfront junkyard fairground and a string of Australasian premieres.  

8. Culinary capital 

Wellington is New Zealand's culinary capital, and is home to some 750 cafes and restaurants – said to be more per capita than New York City. Experience the best of New Zealand seafood at Whitebait, and try new eateries The Bresolin, Loretta and Jano, or classics like Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium, Capitol and Floriditas.  

9. Ride the Wellington Cable Car 

The bright red Wellington Cable Car is a bit of a classic. For just a few dollars, you can take the short ride up from the terminal in the heart of the Lambton Quay shopping district up to the lookout for panoramic views of the city. You’ll also find the Cable Car Museum, Space Place at Carter Observatory and Botanic Garden

10. The world’s tastiest laneway? 

To sample local flavours and pick up some gifts for anyone you've left back home, take a stroll down Hannah’s Laneway. Right in the heart of the city, this laneway is salted caramel, chocolate, craft beer, coffee, handcrafted soda, pizza and peanut butter heaven thanks to residents Leeds St Bakery, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Six Barrel Soda,  Fix & Fogg and Golding’s Free Dive