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24 hours in Te Whanganui a Tara, Wellington, New Zealand

Surrounded by hills and a sparkling harbour, Wellington offers its visitors a pulsing cultural scene, incredible nature, and world-class cuisine.

by Sharron Livingston
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Mount Victoria, Wellington City

Named by Lonely Planet as “the coolest little capital in the world”, Te Whanganui a Tara Wellington sure lives up to its reputation.

Surrounded by hills and a sparkling harbour, Wellington offers its visitors a pulsing cultural scene, incredible nature experiences, and world-class cuisine.

We’ve pulled together a selection of Wellington’s must-do experiences, places to eat and accommodation recommendations for a short stay.

Must Eat

Breakfast Every Wellingtonian knows the capital is home to some of the best coffee and food in the world, and what better place to start your stay with a visit to Fidel’s? Located on upper Cuba Street, Fidel’s is a Wellington institution, famous for its signature hash browns and delicious coffee – it’s a must visit.

If you happen to be in town on a Sunday, the Harbourside Market is well worth a trip. The oldest market in Wellington, this waterfront market has been operating since 1920. Today, you can pick up fresh produce, cheese, coffee, and an array of breakfast and lunch-style food.

Lunch Stroll along the waterfront of Oriental Parade to retro-inspired Beach Babylon for a cheese fondue or juicy burger for lunch. Sit on the road and soak up the sun as you take in the sweeping views of Wellington’s gorgeous Oriental Bay. As they say, nothing beats Wellington on a good day!

Hannah’s Laneway is another fantastic option for lunch. Located in a former industrial area, this culinary hotspot has everything from pizza and craft beer, to tacos and artisan chocolate.


Dinner Finish off with dinner at the multi-award-winning Hiakai, a restaurant that fuses traditional Māori and Polynesian ingredients to result in modern dining at its best. Embark on a culinary journey as you experience indigenous cooking techniques and ingredients through methods passed down by the tāngata [people] of Aotearoa for centuries.


Museums Packed with national treasures, Wellington’s museums tell the stories of Aotearoa New Zealand’s past. Situated right on the waterfront, you’ll find Te Papa Tongarewa, Māori for “Container of Treasures”. Packed with exhibitions that showcase aspects of New Zealand’s diverse art and visual culture, the museum is a must-visit.

Further down in a beautiful 1892 heritage building is Te Waka Huia o Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho, Wellington Museum – where you’ll be transported to the waterfront of Pōneke in the late 1800s.

If you’re a movie buff, make sure you visit the Wētā Cave & Workshop – for all things Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Avatar.

Māori Culture Uncover Wellington’s rich and diverse Māori history with an indigenous Māori culture experience at Te Wharewaka o Pōneke.

Discover Wellington’s hidden Māori treasures as you visit significant Māori sites on the Cultural Walking Tour, or choose the Waka Tour where you’ll learn the ancient style of paddling, salutes and chants on a traditionally carved waka.

Nature & Wildlife Perched just off the coastline is Kapiti Island, recognised internationally for its sanctuary of the country’s most beautiful and endangered birds.

Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island

Arrange a day tour to one of New Zealand’s oldest and most important nature reserves, where you’ll learn the incredible history of heroic Māori warriors and some of the world’s first dedicated conservationists, as well as how to identify the flora and fauna of the island. Find your tour here.

Closer to the city centre, experience the awakening of Zealandia with a special dawn-guided experience where you’ll hear the sanctuary’s residents turning in for the day, all with a lovely cup of warm kawakawa tea.

Cable Car

Catch the historic Wellington Cable Car to get there and tick off two Wellington must-do’s in one go. You can also access the Botanic Garden, state-of-the-art planetarium Space Place, and Cable Car Museum.

Must Stay

QT Wellington. Loosely based in the new creative capital of the South, QT Wellington is a warm invitation to explore and define one of New Zealand’s most eclectic collections of art and character.


Naumi Studio Hotel Wellington: A heritage landmark in the heart of the Cuba St precinct, the 4 star hotel Naumi Studio Hotel Wellington, has been renovated into an enchanting visual feast for the senses featuring classic furniture.

OhTel Wellington In the exclusive seaside neighbourhood of Oriental Bay in New Zealand’s Capital, OhTel‘s rooms are each individually furnished and fuse Kiwiana artwork with a mid-century feel.

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