New Zealand’s pretty capital, Wellington, is a great destination for family getaways. The scenic city wraps itself around the picturesque Wellington Harbour and is overlooked by lush mountains that are bona fied movie stars, having doubled as Hobbiton and other locations in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
The city’s incredible interactive and educational museums include the innovative national museum and art gallery, Te Papa. And the Wellington Museum has been voted amongst the best in the world with amazing, interactive exhibits that kids will love.
Take a ride on the historic Wellington Tram between Lambton Quay and Kelburn. Hire skates, bikes, or simply troll along the vibrant waterfront where you’ll find awesome playgrounds, cafes and inspiring artworks. Jump in the water to paddle around the inner harbor by kayak, SUP or pedal boat.
Get up close with exotic animals at Wellington Zoo, see some of New Zealand’s most unique native wildlife at Zelanadia or head to Staglands Wildlife Reserve to feed and pat farm animals.
If you feel like a dip head to Oriental Bay, a safe swimming beach that is ideal for families, the small but perfectly formed Scorching Bay or popular surfing spot, Lyall Bay beach. If you’ve a hankering for some mountain air, get out of the city to trek one of Rimutaka Forest Park’s well-trodden hiking routes. And at Upper Hutt, you’ll find a series of easy riverside trails as well as excellent fishing and mountain biking.
Wellington has a fantastic range of family activities for every age and every budget. Here are ten of the best.
Little ones will love Wellington’s 50 plus public playgrounds. Located on the scenic waterfront, popular Frank Kitts Park offers swings, climbing frames, exciting slides, ride-ons and climbers. The Botanic Gardens is ideal for toddlers with swings, climbing frames, a rocktopus and flying fox, as well as changing tables for little ones. Or take the kids back in time to the 1920s at the Loco Miniature Railway and Gardens with its steam locomotives, play area, trampoline and veggie patch.
Putt around Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, a wheelchair and stroller accessible 18-hole pirate themed golf course the kids will love. Or send them off to the circus at The Circus Hub who offer pre-school classes designed to help develop coordination, balance, spatial awareness and musicality with all the fun and imagination of the circus.
And if the weather isn’t so great, head to Te Papa’s Storyplace for its interactive storytime and play area designed especially for children under 5 years.
Though Wellington is a lovey place to visit all year around, its overall climate tends to be on the mild side, with temps rarely topping more than 25 degrees Celsius. The best time for visiting Wellington is from November through to April when the weather is at its most comfortably warm. But book ahead to nab the best family-friendly accommodation and campsites.
You will need to beware of Wellington’s wind whatever time of year. So windy that the wind turbine that overlooks the city regularly sets world records, its exposed location on the Cook Straight funnels wind from the ocean to the city whatever the season, though spring sees winds at their peak and generally the winds are moderate enough to not be an issue.
In June and August, things get a lot chillier and layers will be required. However, it’s the best time of year to bag a bargain.
Brimming with amazing restaurants, cool cafes, colourful markets and laneways serving up incredible produce grown by local producers, the city of Wellington is a great place for foodies. Families are spoilt for choice with kid-friendly cafes and a choice of international cuisines.
Given its harbourside location, fresh seafood is a specialty with local favourites including fish and chips and whitebait easy to find and a must to try. Head to the Wellington Trawling Sea Market for the freshest seafood cooked fresh on the spot the way you like it. If you’re prepared to queue, the Mt Vic Chippery is another local favourite.
There are many food markets including the Wellington Night Market on Friday and Saturday nights, the Wellington Underground Market on Saturdays, and City Market and The Harbourside Market on the waterfront for fresh produce and local artisanal creations.
February/March - New Zealand Festival
New Zealand's leading arts festival celebrates the world of art, performance and music.
March - CubaDupa
A two-day festival of food, music and community on Wellington’s hippest street.
September – Artsplash
This festival for young people brings together primary and intermediate school students to celebrate dance, music and visual art.
September - Spring Festival
This annual festival of flowers at Wellington Botanic Garden includes guided walks, workshops and a kids’ day out.
October -HighLight: Carnival of Lights
Riddiford Garden will be transformed into a family friendly wonderland of immersive displays, live performances and interactive light during this four-day carnival of lights.
October/November - Kāpiti Arts Trail
The Kāpiti Arts Trail sees more than 100 artists showcase works across a range of artistic mediums.
November – Wellington Sky Show
Head to Wellington harbor for this spectacular annual fireworks display.
December to March – Summer City
A massive festival with 100 free music and fun events under the stars.
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