It’s compact, arty and full of micro breweries, with coffee shops, colourful people and what seems like a different event every week, to keep you entertained!
This is New Zealand’s well loved, windy capital, where there’s no denying the local’s phrase, “you can’t beat Welly on a good day”!
Don’t worry about transport here, because, this capital city is just so easy to navigate on foot.
Overnight parking for motorhomes is provided, both in and around the city, making for a stress-free visit, that leaves you wanting more.
There are no campsites in the centre. If that’s more your thing, you’ll need to head to Lower Hutt, about a 20 minute drive away, along the main road out of the city.
Wellington isn’t just windy, it’s also shaky! This is New Zealand after all and Wellington sits right on the fault line, of the Pacific’s “ring of fire”.
The Te Papa museum on the waterfront has a good demonstration of earthquake activity. Display’s show how this modern building was built to withstand the likelihood of a future big quake.
Wellington is a rather unique mix, mainly surrounded by mountains, which fall towards the ocean towards golden beaches.
Hot summer days see locals flock to the water. Signs make passers by aware of nesting penguins! Whales and dolphins are known to swim by, so keep an eye out. You never know what may be passing next, on the crest of a wave.
Guys in business suits whiz past on skateboards, briefcase under their arms. Funky electric scooters glide by and cycling is the norm. This place is an outdoor persons dream and work doesn’t get in the way of that daily dose of outdoor exercise.
If you spend a few days here, you won’t be disappointed, although, many visitors only use Wellington as a transit route to the South. Rarely spending time here, to get to know this brilliant city.
If you get out and about onto the many walking tracks, the views down on the city are fab, pick up one of the free walking maps from the iSite.
A good walk to start with, is Mt Victoria and it’s lookout. Expect a bit of puff from those lungs, but the views from the top are superb. You can drive up too, you’ll be in the company of the tourist buses, so won’t be alone.
For a lively shopping experience head for Cuba Street, in the heart of Welly. It’s here that the individual side of the city springs to life. It’s a hub of eccentric lifestyles, quirky shops, cafes and bars, put it simply, it’s where it all goes on!
The weekly night market held on a Friday, sees gastronomic delights from around the world, offering, a great atmosphere, above all, the food is scrumptious!
Towards the waterfront, you’ll find pop up craft stalls and bars with eating areas, spilling out onto the quay. Relaxing grassy sections, allow you to pull up a bean bag and plonk yourself down, with a glass of your favourite tipple, overlooking the water. It’s a great place to people watch too!
Every city has it’s tourist attraction and Wellington is no exception. Especially delightful is the bright red Cable Car, taking you to the top of the Botanic gardens from Lambton Quay, in the busy business and shopping district.
Walking though a narrow passage, you’d never know it was there! It’s worth taking the ride to the top, where you get great views across the city. There’s also a really nice cafe and outdoor terrace to relax at whilst you choose where to go next.
From here, there’s a bus service to Zealandia, a wildlife conservation area and the world’s first fully fenced urban eco sanctuary. You can even do a night tour to see and hear the native forest come to life, including a hopeful glimpse of a real life Kiwi. It’s an oasis of birdsong and plant life that will have you emerged in nature.
Back down in Welly, the big name department stores and snazzy business district can be found at Lambton Quay. It still has an individual theme here, despite some of the usual high street chains.
We love food and over at Moore Wilson’s, there is an abundance of unusual artisan type products in a warehouse type building. The bakery with its artisan breads are just amazing.
A walk along the waterfront, leads to the Te Papa museum reaching further on to Oriental Bay, passing brightly painted beach chalet’s, seen on many Wellington tourist pics, it sure is a picture opportunity!
Some lovely beaches and a brilliant indoor swimming pool, where you can take a dip or shower await. The path then continues all along the coast to the airport and beyond.
After about an hour on foot, you reach a very popular freedom camp for motorhomes and campervans, at Evans Bay.
If you want to stop the night at Evans Bay Freedom Camping area, you’ll need to get there before midday to get a place. It’s always full and with a maximum 3 night stay. A bus stop and cycling route to the city, leave plenty of options for getting into the centre.
It’s right by the airport and next to a marina, where toilets and a dump point are available to use. There’s also a really good swimming pool across the road, where you can swim or take a shower for a few dollars.
Parking in the centre of Wellington is also an option, next to Te Papa museum is a large car park where you can stop overnight. It’s also alongside the waterfront, so it’s super convenient.
Motorhome Parking in the centre off Cuba Street
Right in the centre is another tight, but brilliantly located campervan parking spot, in a car park off Cuba Street. It’s always full during the day, but arrive after the workers’ have left and you’ll get a spot. There’s electric too, but it’s a more costly place to park at $30 per night.
If Lord of the Rings or Avatar is your thing, then Weta studios close to the airport at Miramar is a must do!
Head for the Wellington’s very own ‘Wellywood” sign, that sits on the hillside at the end of the runway. A giveaway to the high profile blockbuster industry.
Tours of this film production facility takes you through from prosthetics to stunts and it’s world class, of course!
The coastal inlets from Weta Studios, around Wellington are really worth a drive. Just a few minutes from the centre and you’re passing rocky coastline, clear waters and a mix of surfing beaches, calm bays and department of conservation areas. There’s plenty of marked walks across the hills here and along the coast, snorkelling too!
Scorching Bay is a great beach on a hot day. A lovely setting with a really good cafe close by, it’s a pretty little place to relax.
Passing further along through Breaker Bay, Lyall Bay, Houghton Bay and on to Owhiro Bay, you arrive at the end of the road. It’s here that the car park joins a Freedom Camp area.
A visitor information centre and toilets are in the car park, you can stay overnight in the marked bays only.
We failed to get a parking spot for the night here, despite going back several times on different nights. You need to arrive there early in the day, but if you do go in the dark, watch out for where the parking places are. We parked, one bay out of the correct zone and got a caution the following morning from the Ranger!
Walk along the beach from here to the headland and you reach a seal colony, it’s a fair way to walk, but worth it to see the seals, it’s also a 4×4 track. This place can be as windy as hell, so hold on to your hats!!
Sunsets from this section of coast from Lyall Bay to Owhiro are just fab, as the sun goes down below the shadows of the South Island’s mountainous coastline on the horizon, you’ll be reaching for that camera at the orange glow across the ocean.
So Wellington isn’t just the gateway to the South Island, it’s a fantastic, fun filled, vibrant city, a young person’s place, full of the goodness of life in every nook and cranny. It’s one of those places that feels cosy and creative, it makes you want to join in, get arty and let your hair down.
Above all, Wellington will have you wanting to go back for more, we love it and we hope you will too!
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