Wellington City Guide

Coming from a small village meant moving to New Zealand’s capital was a bit of a change for me. But Wellington, being marked as the ‘coolest little capital’, has made it easy to love the city life. The main bulk of the city is nestled between the hills and the harbour making it easy to get to places by foot. But the rest of the city spreads over a much larger area,
creating an array of smaller shopping and social hubs. One of the things I love most about this city is how close the hills and coasts are making it easy to enjoy the outdoors. That being said, to enjoy the views it often entails a lot of climbing so be prepared to loose your breath a little!

I may be bias but Wellington is definitely my favourite city in New Zealand but not just because of its glorious surroundings. The city never fails to have something going on, especially in the summer when most of the festivals happen. These really bring the city alive, with live music in bars, on stages or just little gatherings on the street. There’s not many places I can imagine road closures happening for street salsa dancing. And if that’s not enough, I’m sure I can sway you with the food scene. Wellington is known for its rather high number of coffee shops and eateries meaning you won’t be short of choice no matter what you fancy.

Here I’ll share my favourite spots as well as the must do things for those travelling through!

Must see:

– The Waterfront. A gentle walk along the waterfront stopping in at Te papa then down to Oriental Bay for a beach and swimming spot. If your lucky, you could spot large pods of dolphins out in the harbour.

The Waterfront

– Cuba Street. Full of independent restaurants and shops, pop in to Wellington Apothecary for natural beauty and Iko Iko or Madame Fancy Pants for giftware.

– Botanical gardens. Take the cable car up to the gardens overlooking the city that boast native plants and birds. Some of the smaller paths really have you feeling like your out in the bush not in the city! The café at the Rose garden offers refreshments and eats after your explore.

View from the Botanic Gardens


– Neo: A favourite of mine on Willis Street for breakfast or brunch offering vegetarian options all served beautifully.

– Aroy: A modern Thai restaurant on Cuba at great prices – highly recommend for travellers.

– Ombra:  Another on Cuba St but slightly more fancy serving all good Italian food.

– Fix n Fogg:  For all the peanut butter lovers, be sure to check out there window on Leeds St, if not purchase some from any supermarket.

– Mananui café:  Grab the best seat in the house overlooking Lyall Bay so you can watch the surfers and the planes take off.

– Pizza Pomodoro:  Best pizza in town on Leeds St and I recommend the pistachio tiramisu for dessert!

– Harbour Market:  If you’re here on a Sunday be sure to check out this market for all the fruit and veg plus lots of food stalls offering different cuisines.


– Mt Vic: The most popular walk because of its proximity to the city giving you great views.

– Brooklyn Bunkers/wind turbine: In my opinion giving better views across the city and harbour but does includes a longer walk.

View from the Brooklyn Bunkers

– Red Rocks. Take an easy walk along the coast along to the red rocks and Devil’s gate where you can see a fur seal colony.

Coastline on the way back from the Red Rocks

– Makara Peak: If you’re into mountain biking like me, Makara peak is a great trails park again with great views at the top including the South Island on good days. Bike hire is available from Mud cycles 5 minutes down the road.

Day trips:

– Kapiti Island:  Take the ferry across to a predator-free island for some nature walks with native bush and bird life.

Kapiti Island

– Cape Palliser:  A longer drive out the city stopping off at the Pinnacles, a beautiful walk included in scenes from LOTR. Carry on the drive to Cape Palliser seeing the seals and climbing up to the lighthouse.

The Pinnacles on the way to Cape Palliser

– Makara Beach: A nice drive out of the city to a west coast beach village offering good swimming and sunsets, especially from the top of the gun escarpment for views of Cook Strait and the South Island. There is a café but is only open at the weekend.

The views from:

Finally, my favourite hostel in Wellington is the Marion, offering modern and clean rooms with great kitchen and bathroom facilities including waterfall showers! I fully recommend anyone travelling New Zealand to include Wellington in their itinerary.

A good 3 days will give you a great taster of the city but you could fill up a week easily, especially if the weather is good! There is the saying, You can’t beat Welly on a good day! And for those who are considering a move out to this incredible country, I definitely think Wellington provides a home town, with the best of both worlds; the city and the outdoors!