Known as the coolest little capital in the world, Wellington packs a surprising amount of things to see and do into such a small space.
From the Wellywood film industry attractions to the waterfront activities and amazing opportunities to get back to nature, Wellington makes a wonderful place to create memories with your family. With more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York, it’s a great place to visit for a fun-filled weekend or stay longer and experience even more of the capital’s charm.
We’ve put together some of our favourite places to stay, eat and play so you can create some lasting memories with your family.
Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans.
Free family activities
- Te Papa – The Museum of New Zealand hosts an amazing array of exhibits, many with interactive features. Don’t miss the colossal squid and Bush City with it’s tunnels, waterfall and fossil dig. There is a changing programme of word-class exhibits (an entry fee may be payable for these).
- Wellington Botanic Gardens – Take the Cable Car up to the top and walk down through beautiful gardens, ponds, sculptures, and a great kids playground.
- Wellington Waterfront – The waterfront is where the locals love to hang out. Explore the views, sculptures, bridges, lagoon, Frank Kitts Park playground, and Oriental Bay – a golden sand beach within the city. You can hire bikes, rollerblades, kayaks or paddleboards to get around.
- Weta Cave – A mini museum showcasing some of Weta’s finest work. It’s also the starting point for the Weta Cave Workshop Tour (charges apply).
- Mt Victoria Lookout – For the best view in Wellington, head up Mt Victoria for a sweeping panorama of the harbour.
Fun family experiences
Cable Car Museum
Ride the cable car
Historic dress up fun
Take the Cable Car up to the museum and discover the original winding mechanism that was in use from 1902 until 1978. Get your photo taken in the original grip cars and dress up for some selfie fun. The museum is the perfect spot for a great view of the harbour and a stroll through the Botanic Garden.
Thomas Cooke telescope
Explore the universe at Space Place (at Carter’s Observatory). Entertaining planetarium shows will take you on an adventure that’s out of this world, while the multimedia exhibits, interactive galleries and historic Thomas Cooke telescope reveal the secrets of the southern skies. Learn about planets, stars, constellations and galaxies.
Sights & sounds of history
A time machine in the Attic!
As you enter the museum, housed in a beautiful 1892 heritage building, you are met with the sights and sounds of the Bond Store, as it would have been in the late 1800s. Situated on the waterfront, Wellington Museum will captivate and entertain with interactive exhibits and plenty of fun for the kids, as you explore the history of Wellington.
Nairn Street Cottage
Step back in time
Oldest house in Wellington
Believed to be the oldest house in Wellington, Nairn Street Cottage is a virtual step back in time. Built in 1858, the cottage showcases the colonial history of the area, with stories from the original inhabitants, the Wallis family and their descendants.
Kākā feeding station
Ride the lake boat
Spot the tuatara
The world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, in the heart of Wellington. Walk the fantastic bush trail to see and hear native birds. Get great views from the reservoir dam and lookout tower, explore the state of the art visitor centre, and ride the lake boat. Rātā Café offers organic and free-range meals and snacks.
Exciting live shows
Inspiring young people
Capital E is a hub of creative arts for kids. This award-winning not-for-profit organisation offers workshops, activities and live performances for school holiday and weekend fun. Get creative with theatre, media, film, technology, invention and imagination!
The Original Adventure Golf
Fun mini golf course
Waterfall and treasure cave
Just 20 minutes north of Wellington, Pirate’s Cove mini golf lies beside the Porirua Harbour – the perfect spot for a pirate’s adventure! With a masted pirate ship, waterfall, water hazards, stocks and treasure hidden within the cave, the course is great entertainment for kids and those competitive adults. Play a second round for half price!
The Enormous Crocodile Co.
Waterfront bike hire
3 or 6 seater quadricyles
Explore Wellington harbour
A croc-bike is the most fun way to explore the Wellington waterfront. Hop aboard either a 3 or 6 seater quadricyle that’s easy for adults or kids to ride. Great family fun and be sure to finish your ride with an amazing milkshake, smoothie or coffee at Shake.
Meet the inhabitants at Wellington Zoo
Keeper talks and feeding
New Zealand’s first zoo has been leading the way in animal welfare and conservation. Get a peek at their work in The Nest Te Kōhanga as they treat native wildlife patients. The zoo has over 100 species from around the globe including African big cats, native animals, monkeys, penguins, giraffes and more. Bring a picnic and relax for a while at one of the playgrounds.
Where to eat
Southern Cross Garden Bar and Restaurant – There’s always something happening at the Cross! This is the ultimate in kid-friendly dining with facepainting, colouring, theatre and puppet shows and toys to keep the little ones entertained while you relax and enjoy the superb food. The kitchen uses fresh, local produce wherever possible to create fantastic dishes for the whole family. Don’t miss the 2-for-1 stonegrills on Monday and Tuesday nights!
Maranui Cafe is Wellington’s best kept secret for breakfast, brunch or lunch! Choose from stunning baking from the cabinet and a range of meals from the menu, or relax with a coffee while you gaze over the beach, watching the surfers at Lyall Bay.
Whitby’s Restaurant & Bar – renowned for an extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet. Kids 12 & under dine for 1/2 price and under 5s are free! An a la carte menu is also available with Mini Lamb Sliders and Stir Fry Noodles included in the kids menu. Or indulge in a High Tea with a special kids price too!
- St Pierre’s Sushi – Sushi is a healthy way to keep full during the day. Made with fresh ingredients daily, St Pierre’s offers combinations to delight even the fussiest eaters. If you’re are pregnant or would like something that is sold out, be sure to ask the chef’s to create fresh sushi for you.
Where to stay
James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor
Stay in the heart of Wellington, just minutes from the capital’s attractions, shopping and entertainment. The James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor is a well-appointed hotel with two renowned restaurants, a day spa, gym, 24 hour room service, valet parking and complimentary Wi-Fi. Spacious family rooms feature a separate lounge with Sky TV and in-house movies. Children 12 & under stay for free in existing bedding and eat 1/2 price at the hotel’s extensive buffet restaurant.
Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city but within easy reach of the city attractions. From motel rooms and self-contained units to cabins and campervan or tent sites, there’s an accommodation to suit every family at a price you’ll love. The kids will be in seventh heaven with an on-site playground, trampoline, jumping pillow, TV and games rooms, and pedal bikes for hire. As well as kitchen facilities the camp has dining rooms and a BBQ area.
Capital Gateway Motor Inn
Perfectly positioned if you’re hopping on the Cook Strait ferry and just 10 minutes from Wellington CBD. Friendly staff and clean and tidy accommodation will make your stay hassle free and relaxed. Family units can sleep up to six, many have a kitchenette for convenience and there’s also a campervan park on site. The licenced restaurant offers a good selection of affordable meals, bar snacks and pizzas.