The charming capital of New Zealand, Wellington is famous for its gorgeous picturesque views and mystical “Lord of the Rings” scenery; but not so many people know that it’s also known as the world’s “coolest little capital”. With a modest population of 204.000, the vibrant city offers a wide range of activities from outdoor experiences to luxury spa and wellness. Spend at least 2-3 days in Wellington to enjoy the little city to its maximum – here are five suggestions for how to spend your time!

1) Try the famous coffee culture of New Zealand

Start your day with a sip of the best coffee in the whole world. As you may know, Wellington has been internationally recognised as having the best coffee culture in the world. And it’s definitely not a marketing trick or urban myth – the quality of this ubiquitous black energy drink is very high! The coffee history of Wellington dates back to the 1930s and has become a crucial part of the city’s identity. There are lots of lovely coffee shops but my personal favourite is The Hangar. The talented baristas serve masterpieces in a cup from ethically produced and locally roasted coffee beans. The coffee menu is extensive but the friendly staff will help you to find an ideal one for you. If it so happens that you want to widen your knowledge about coffee or delve into the background of the beans then order the “Tasting Flights”. You’ll taste the diversity of the essence and flavours and learn from which countries they originate and about the differences in processing the product.

2) Free knowledge for everyone!

Wellington provides its citizens and visitors with great museums which everyone can visit for free. The two most famous are Te Papa Togarewa (which literally means “treasure box”) and Wellington Museum. Start your hunt for knowledge with the latter, which is the smaller of the two. There you will discover the detailed information about the social, cultural and maritime history of New Zealand. You can also watch a short but mesmerising hologram telling the story!

However, it’s the world-famous museum Te Papa Tongarewa that is the real star. Get lost for the whole day in the 6 levels of the building, presenting fascinating stories of New Zealand’s history and art in a very innovative way. Collections include wildlife – complete with horrifying creatures of the sea such as a preserved gigantic squid – plus exhibitions featuring art, history and New Zealand’s unique geography.

3) Lord of the Rings fans take note…

Another spectacular highlight of Wellington is the movie museum and workshop, Weta Cave. You can find the studio in the heart of one of Wellington’s suburbs, Miramar, where it presents movie treasures like props, replicas and life-sized sculptures of the Lord of the Rings’ protagonists. A must is to participate in their tour which will show you how the props of various movies were designed, and if you behave you can even hold an impressive weapon from “District 9”. Afterwards there’s a movie about the early beginnings of Weta Cave Studio and its crucial role in movies like Warcraft, Mad Max and Spider Man. The ticket costs around $50 but it’s definitely worth every cent.

4) The luxurious way of enjoying Wellington

It should be noted that Wellingon is also a great spot for  discerning shopaholics. With a wide range of boutiques selling unique pieces from local designers, the only obstacle in this case is that you need a fair amount of money to purchase even just one item – but hey, money comes and money goes, it’s the memories that are important! If you’re tired after a long flight or exhausting day exploring the surroundings then I have great news for you – Wellington has numerous wellness and spa salons. My personal favourite is the Infuse Spa located in James Cook Hotel, at the heart of the city. It offers impeccable service, a wide range of massages and beauty treatments, and a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The staff make great effort to make you feel comfortable and relaxed; this is a place where time stops and it’s all about easing the mind and soothing the senses. You must try the “Muscle Melt” Therapy: a stress relieving and re-energising massage that will help you to get rid of all your knots and tightness! The treatments are affordable, especially when compared with other spas – and it’s priceless to feel reborn and refreshed at the end of a treatment.

5) Getting hungry?

Wellington is not only paradise for coffee junkies – it’s also a culinary Mecca. It’s the home of more than 400 dining spots, rivalling New York in terms of cafes and restaurants per capita. Therefore a few insider tips are necessary if you don’t want to get lost in the dining jungle! If you want to save money but still try good quality food then you should consider visiting the best fish and chippy in town, The Chippery.

It’s not a regular occurrence, but sometimes there is sunshine in Wellington; when this happens, don’t hesitate to head to Coene’s Bar to enjoy delicious food and the best view of the harbour. Seafood lovers should also try mussels and crabs at The Crab Shack on the waterfront. Check their website first, as they always have specials on!

I hope you’ve found this list helpful and that it has put Wellington on your radar if it wasn’t already! If you’ve already been, what were the highlights for you? Let us know in the comments!


This is a guest post by Kate Valo.

An adventurous and enthusiastic girl, Kate was born in Russia, finished high school in Germany, studied in Austria, worked in Australia, lived in Belgium and is now based in New Zealand. Her affinity for traveling and the nomadic lifestyle plus her passion for literature and the science of communication are combined in her travel and food blog Elysian Moment.