Start your day on Cuba Street, enjoying a nice breakfast in one of the many quirky cafés (Fidel’s on top of the street is particularly yummy). Also known as ‘New Zealand’s coolest street’, Cuba Street is Wellington’s famous inner city slice of bohemia, full of culinary and creative soul.
Once you are full of energy, walk along Willis Street and turn left to Lambton Quay to take the Cable Car. The last stop on top of the hill will leave you right at the entrance of the Botanic Gardens and the Kelburn lookout, where you’ll be able to enjoy an exceptional view of Wellington. Right next to the Cable Car Kelburn terminus you can visit the Cable Car Museum (free), walk two minutes to the Carter Observatory and Planetarium or take the free shuttle to visit Zealandia.
Zealandia is a must-see eco-attraction and ground-breaking restoration project: a nature lover’s paradise and a sanctuary by the city! Without doubt, it is a conservation and restoration success and a vital ‘lifeboat’ for some of New Zealand’s most endangered native species. See some of New Zealand’s rarest birds, reptiles and insects living wild in their natural environment, including hihi, tuatara, saddleback, kākā and (on one of their night tours) little spotted kiwi.
The Botanic Gardens are gorgeous and easy to visit thanks to their various downhill walks. You can have lunch in the Picnic Café located in the heart of Wellington’s stunning Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
After lunch, it’s a mere 10 minutes downhill walk to get to the Beehive and the New Zealand Parliament. Free daily one-hour guided tours of the Parliament Buildings depart on the hour from the Visitor Centre.
Afterwards, walk five minutes straight ahead and you will arrive at the spectacular Wellington waterfront. Wandering along the Wellington waterfront is definitely one of the top 10 Wellington must-dos. Activities such as biking, paddle boats, kayaking, walking, or reading a book in the sun are equally enjoyable. After taking a break with a nice coffee and/or gelato at the Kaffee Eis in Frank Kitt’s Lagoon, it is time for some culture.
Te Papa Museum is without doubt another must-do in Wellington (free). Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, renowned for being bicultural, scholarly, innovative, and fun. Do not miss The Colossal Squid Exhibition, the only complete one on display in the world. The Mana Whenua section on Level 4 will tell you all about the Māori as tangata whenua (original people) of Aotearoa New Zealand, its life and heritage. Te Marae (communal meeting place) is spectacular and on the same floor. For a glimpse of 100 years of New Zealand history on film check Golden Days. Te Papa Museum is free of charge and extremely enriching, so if you have time take at least a day to enjoy it!
Once you have visited Te Papa, turn right and walk along the waterfront until Oriental Bay, where you can swim in Wellington’s most popular beach. The Southern Walkway, an 11km walk along the Town Belt between Oriental Bay and Island Bay, begins at the northern end of Oriental Parade and can also be accessed from Grass Street. Follow the track and you will arrive in 20 min on the Mount Victoria summit and lookout. Here, at 196 metres, there are sweeping views of the city, harbour and Tinakori Hill, the Hutt Valley and Eastern harbour bays, Matiu/Somes Island and the Miramar Peninsula.
Walk downhill back to the city centre (via Majoribanks Street) and enjoy the best fish’n’chips in Wellington for dinner (Mt Vic Chippery, 3 Majoribanks St). Just across the street and in time for a digestive break, enjoy a movie at The Embassy Theatre, internationally known for hosting the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on December 1, 2003.
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