A City Guide to Wellington – Explore the World's Coolest Little Capital

Coined "The Coolest Little Capital in the World" by Lonely Planet, Wellington is the perfect mixture of contemporary attractions and Kiwi traditions. From Maori heritage to beautiful beaches, artistic hubs and vibrant restaurants and bars, New Zealand's compact capital packs a cultural punch.


Pick up a car hire in Wellington and see the best of the city on your own schedule.

Eating and drinking in Wellington

Known for having more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York, there are plenty of places to grab a bite and watch the world go by in Wellington.




Situated on the Wellington Waterfront, find a sunny seat at Mac's Brewbar and sample the range of award-winning, locally produced beers. Pick up a few bites from the bar or spend some time in the restaurant tearing apart hearty, flavoursome dishes, paired perfectly with matching beers.


Nearby on buzzing Courtenay Place, Southern-style soul food is the name of the game at Sweet Mother's Kitchen. Grab a booth and settle in for some serious comfort food; delicious servings of corn-fed chicken, lashings of free-range pork, jambalaya, gumbo or a famous New Orleans-style Po Boy will all tempt your taste buds. Make sure you leave room for one of their famous homemade sweet pies, featuring flavours such as pecan and bourbon, peanut butter and key lime.




Known for hidden bars and stylish cocktail lounges, there are no shortage of places to see out the sunset (and welcome the sunrise) in Wellington. From the lively central strip of Courtenay Place to the uber-cool hangouts of Cuba Street and Te Aro, a stroll around the compact CBD will present you with numerous options to awaken the night owl within.




Situated near the world-famous Martinborough wine region and surrounded by an abundance of beautiful natural produce, Wellington takes its food and drink pretty seriously. For an unforgettable taste of New Zealand, an advance booking at Logan Brown, Martin Bosley's, or Boulcott Street Bistro is sure to make for a memorable dining experience.


Alternatively, for fine dining without the heavy price tag, pay a visit in August when the Wellington on a Plate food festival rolls into town for two weeks of gargantuan gastronomic adventures.


Things to do in Wellington


Hit the beach


Oriental Bay Beach offers a relaxing respite in the middle of the city. Situated on Wellington Harbour at the base of Mount Victoria, find a spot on the sand or grass and take in the views while enjoying some fresh fish and chips. If you like your sea and sand with a touch more seclusion, jump in the car and follow Oriental Parade around the twists and turns of Wellington Harbour to find hidden-away beaches and calm bays to call your own. If you're lucky, you might even spot a couple of killer whales taking a brief detour from their coastal migration.


Be a Wellingtonian


A vibrant precinct featuring quirky vintage shops, local designers, trendy cafes and hip hidden bars, Cuba Street is Wellington's place to see and be seen. Beat the breakfast crowds to Floriditas for some of the best eggs and coffee in the city, then stroll past the street entertainers as you soak in the relaxed atmosphere of this little capital of cool.


Shop up a storm


Wander down the curved boulevard of Lambton Quay and take your pick from international designers, high-street favourites and unique one-offs at the range of CBD shops and markets. Visit the iconic Kirkcaldie & Stains department store before discovering the boutiques of Old Bank Arcade, situated between Lambton Quay and Willis Street. Stroll along nearby Wakefield Street for a range of specialist New Zealand goods and art galleries or fill your boots (and bellies) from one of the many unique Wellington markets.

Unmissable Wellington


Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


There's nowhere quite like Wellington on a good day. But when those famous winds blow in, you're going to want to get out of the way. Situated on the Wellington Waterfront, Te Papa is the perfect place to retreat. With a range of events and permanent and temporary exhibits, this is one of New Zealand's cutting-edge cultural spaces. Learn about Maori culture and the history of New Zealand, experience a simulated earthquake aftershock and pay a visit to the museum's most famous resident – the fascinating Colossal Squid.


Celebrate at Sevens Wellington


If you're lucky enough to be in town during late January/early February, the Wellington Rugby Sevens Tournament is an unmissable experience. And don't worry if you don't have tickets…the rugby itself is really just an excuse. All over the city, pubs and bars show all the action while playing host to thousands of revellers dressed up in an array of weird and wonderful costumes. Love it or hate it, you really can't be in Wellington during Sevens and miss it – so don your wildest costume and get amongst the fun.


Soak in some culture


If you really can't bring yourself to dress up as a Smurf, never fear – there's plenty going on for art aficionados. Known as New Zealand's cultural epicentre, Wellington is home to an array of world-class artistic institutions including the NZ Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet. Numerous local museums, galleries, live music venues, festivals and film screenings are all just waiting to be enjoyed at any time of year – Keep an eye on what's on for more information.


Take in views at Mount Victoria


New to Wellington? What better way to get your bearings than from 196 metres above the city? Affectionately known by locals as "Mount Vic", a climb through the bush trails will reward you with panoramic views over the harbour, city and mountains beyond. And if Wellington's energetic nightlife has taken its toll, never fear – you can also drive all the way up to this breathtaking lookout. Gaze out into the distance and you might even see the hills of the South Island where a whole new adventure awaits…


Ready to explore everything Wellington has to offer? There's all this and a whole lot more. See it all for yourself when you book a car rental in Auckland and traverse the North Island, or fly into Wellington Airport and grab a set of wheels to start your journey in the World's Coolest Little Capital!


Colossal squid image by AI404; Te Papa by Virginia McMillan; NZ Sevens images by Hamish; all licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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