The capital of New Zealand, Wellington (or Welly as it is more affectionately known), is a city filled with cultural delights, history, adventure and the kind of café culture that would even make Melburnians jealous. Perhaps lesser known about Wellington is that it’s also a hot spot for gourmet cuisine from all over the world – need more? We’ve put together a guide to Wellington to cover all your needs, from accommodation to things-to-do.
Visiting Auckland first? Check out these waterfront hotels.
Accommodation in Wellington
Five-star, boutique hotel in Wellington – The Bolton
A five-star independent hotel in the heart of Wellington, the Bolton has its own style of hospitality and uses technology to elevate its excellent service. Whether it be special pods in the lobby where you can quickly check in and out of your room on an iPad, or free high-speed Wi-Fi access in your room, guests are sure to enjoy the hotel’s high-tech facilities. The suite sizes also offer the largest average room size in the city.
Fun fact: The roses planted outside the hotel derive from a cutting of a rose brought over on one of the first immigrant ships by a young girl called Sophia Harris, determined to plant her favourite rose in her new home.
Budget friendly accommodation in Wellington – Setup on Dixon
Located opposite the historic opera house and just a five-minute walk from the Te Papa museum, the Setup on Dixon is the ideal place to be for visiting downtown Wellington. The budget friendly hotel offers comfortable rooms with cotton linen, LCD TVs and private or shared bathrooms.
Their ethos is to spend your money on Wellington not the hotel, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dedicated to excellent service. With a philosophy of honesty and practicality the staff are on hand to help with planning your stay and to make sure all guests have a great time in this buzzing hub.
Affordable accommodation in Wellington – Te Puni
Te Puni is a Victoria University student village that has rooms to rent for an affordable price during summer, and has the added benefit of being able to cater to very large groups. The complex was built in 2009, with each floor offering stunning views over Wellington Harbour. The rooms are fully-furnished and come with heating, a self-catering kitchen and Wi-Fi.
The facilities also feature two sky rooms, perfect for relaxing and unwinding after a long day of exploring Wellington, you can put music on in these rooms and mingle with fellow travellers. Or if you prefer there’s also an outdoor deck with views across the bay.
Things to do in Wellington
Hiking on Matiu/Somes Island
What used to be a quarantine island for sufferers of smallpox is now a predator-free scientific research reserve. Matiu or Somes Island, is perfect for hiking, with plenty of trails, forests, historical points and a visitor’s centre. There’s also the option of canoeing or kayaking on the island if you fancy taking to the water rather than hiking.
Te Papa Museum
Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum. Renowned for its bicultural and scholarly approach, the museum specialises in collections on art, history, Pacific Island culture, Māori culture, and the natural environment.
Take a walking tour to get to know your way around the city and learn about its different aspects with one of Walk Wellington’s guides. Each guide specialises in their own particular interests, whether that be art, architecture, the courts and New Zealand Parliament or the natural environment. Each tour lasts around two hours and costs $20 per person.
Wellington Cable Car
Try living like a local and use the Wellington Cable Car to get around the city. Travel up to the top of Kelburn, 100 metres above the city, for panoramic views of Wellington and out across the bay. If you choose a one-way ticket, the 40-minute walk back into the city takes you through the scenic botanic gardens and on towards parliament.
If you are looking to let loose your adventurous side, then take a look at the activities offered by Fergs Kayaks. The options range from water activities to Rollerblading or climbing, and are a great way to see the city in a whole new light. Why not try sea kayaking or stand up paddle boarding around the harbour?
Where to eat and drink in Wellington
Fun and delicious meals with names such as ‘Lamb Yum Yum’ and ‘Sexy Little Duck,’ Thai Chef is a great place to have freshly-cooked Thai food. It’s also not far from the Westpac stadium, so it’s perfect for a pre-game fuel restock. Our recommendations include the ‘Rock & Roll’ Thai spring rolls, Thai Roti bread and the green peppercorn infused ‘Naughty Pig’.
If you’re out and about then a quick stop at one of the Wholly Bagels stores will leave you feeling refreshed. There’s a wide range of tasty bagels (Chocolate chip!) and fillings, plus pizza on offer if bagels aren’t your thing. The excellent coffee there is made with Supreme Coffee beans, making a Wholly Bagels flat white the perfect start to the morning.
KK Malaysian Restaurant
Serving up delicious Malaysian food just off Cuba Street, KK Malaysian Restaurant is the perfect place to spice up your holiday and enjoy the delicious flavours of Asia. With a unique no frills approach the diverse range of dishes are affordable and include stir-fried mussels, chicken satay and laksa curry.
Moore Wilsons is the ideal destination for keen locavores (people that like to eat fresh and locally sourced ingredients). It brings the freshest of fruit and veg, breads and pastries from local bakeries, freshly-cut flowers and specialist foods from local artisans and growers together under one roof. The store sells fresh roasted coffee beans from a wide range of local roasters including People’s, Havana and Supreme Coffee. As well as grinding these to order for you, if you have an immediate need they’ll whip you up a coffee of your choice on the spot. Freshly squeezed orange juice rounds it all off.