Located on the southernmost point of the North Island, Wellington is New Zealand's capital city for a good reason. With its bustling harbour, waterfront vistas and white sandy beaches, Wellington is a versatile, vibrant city with an endless list of attractions for both local and international travellers. If you're looking for a weekend getaway during your travels across beautiful Aotearoa, we've done the work for you. Here's how you can have a wonderful weekend in Wellington.
Cuba Street is one of Wellington's most loved areas. Home to both affordable eats and high-class restaurants, Cuba Street is filled with colourful street art, record stores, vintage clothing boutiques, and of course, the famous Bucket Fountain.
It's also home to some of Wellington's most popular breakfast spots, one of which is Fidel's Cafe. Fidel's has been serving Cuban coffee with a side NZ hospitality to the Wellington community since 1996. Inspired by the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, Fidel's specialises in simple, home-cooked food with a Cuban twist. Try the Cuban breakfast Burrito filled with scrambled eggs and black beans for something different, the Smashed Avo with Pico De Gallo for something fresh or the Fried Chicken and Waffles for something a bit more crazy. Vegetarians will love the Scrambled Tofu with charred greens and crispy shallots, while vegans can enjoy their Vegan Breakfast.
Once you've digested your delicious brekky, it's time to put that energy to use with a trip to the Wellington Botanical Gardens. Jump onto the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay and enjoy the leisurely 5-minute ride up to the summit while taking in the best views in Wellington. Once at the top, drink in the sights at the Kelburn Lookout before making your way to the 30-minute Cable Car Loop Walk, which leads you down to the beautiful Wellington Gardens.
Wellington Botanic Gardens are made up of over 25 hectares of planting and 150 years of history, recognised by both the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture and the Historic Places Trust as one of Wellington's most important attractions. The garden features a diverse range of curated collections—home to native flora and a number of amazing botanic plant species from around the world.
If you're keen to spend some more time in these beautiful surroundings, the Cable Car Loop Walk also takes you past Space Place, Wellington's museum dedicated to sharing the stories of the starry New Zealand skies. Enjoy multimedia exhibits and interactive galleries, marvel at the historic Thomas Cooke telescope or be immersed in their digital, full-dome planetarium before looking back in time to the history of Māori starlore.
One of Wellington's most popular Asian eateries, The Old Quarter serves a massive range of delicious Vietnamese fusion dishes, complete with $16 and $19 lunch specials for those travelling on a budget. Try their mouth-wateringly soft bao buns for the perfect hand-held bite, or grab a fresh, tasty salad for something on the healthier side.
Choose the Wellington hotel that suits your style. Perhaps the ibis Wellington—located in the heart of the city and perfect for those looking for a vibrant hotel to complement their exciting holiday. Or the luxurious Sofitel Wellington—a 5-star hotel that blends French art inspiration with New Zealand's friendly hospitality, with a wide range of luxury rooms and suites, all featuring signature, French-inspired amenities and styling. There's a range of Wellington accommodation to choose from, so it's easy to find the right place for the perfect stay.
Ranked in cuisine's top 100 NZ Restaurants in 2019 and 2021/2022, Capitol is well known for expertly delivering a carefully designed bistro-style menu that takes full advantage of seasonal local produce, ethical & sustainable food practices, and the best seafood that NZ has to offer. Led by chef and owner Tom Hutchinson, the restaurant combines warm yet professional service with an intimate setting and carefully considered cocktails to create a truly enjoyable experience. Take a seat by the window, and enjoy!
Pickle and Pie is Wellington's tribute to the New York deli scene, serving up NYC staples like pastrami, lox salmon, bagels, and matzo ball soup, as well as homemade pickles and sweet pies. Their breakfast menu also includes unique dishes like their Whittaker's dark chocolate porridge with poached pears, toasted coconut and mint Feijoa crumpets, and Pumpkin hummus on toast with hot sauce pickled red onions and dukkha.
Brewtown is Wellington's go-to destination for beer lovers, housing numerous award-winning craft breweries and even a distillery, all within walking distance from Upper Hutt train station. With well-known players such as Panhead and local favourites like the Aro Bar by TeAro Brewing slinging tasty brews and delicious bites, you're sure to find something that tickles your fancy.
Our favourite Brewtown brewery is Boneface Brewing, a unique take on the craft brewing scene that incorporates sci-fi inspiration and illustration to transport visitors across the universe to Planet Hopatron for a truly out-of-this-world brewery experience.
As well as brew-tastic treats, Brewtown is also found right next to Daytona Adventure Park, which is home to a bunch of different activities and attractions, including Go-Karting, Ice Skating, Axe Throwing, Paintball, Ten-Pin Bowling, and even a Trampoline Park.
For many food lovers, a trip to Wellington is not complete without a visit to Atlas. Well revered and highly recognised, Atlas is known for changing its cuisine every four months, presenting a new and exciting menu that repeatedly wows visitors.
Achieving its first Chefs Hat Award for its interpretation of Vietnam cuisine, Head Chef/Owner Charlie Carrington and his team are currently delighting their guests with their unique take on the tastes of Sri Lanka, and who knows which country they'll be visiting when you get there. Atlas is very popular so make sure to get yourself a booking.
To cap off your Wellington weekend, there's no better way than to take in one of the amazing performances across the city.
BATS Theatre in Mount Victoria, Wellington is your go-to destination for modern and contemporary productions with a unique twist. Circa Theatre hosts a wide range of local shows with anything from musicals and dance to stand-up comedy and has been supporting the local Wellington art scene for the last 45 years.
The newly reopened St James Theatre & Opera House is the venue of choice for major international productions such as musicals, opera and cabaret shows, as well as the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Congratulations, you've just smashed through your wonderful weekend in Wellington! Got some more stops left on your NZ trip? Why don't you check out our guide on the best things to do in Hamilton!