Wellington, we love you, but let’s face it—you’re not exactly cheap. Don’t get us wrong, we love splashing out on a side of halloumi with our brunch, or a $12 tub of boutiquey ice cream from Moore Wilsons, but sometimes you’ve really gotta rein in that spending.
Lucky for us, some of the best things Wellington has to offer are free. And lucky for you, we’ve put them all into this handy dandy list. Enjoy.
An absolute classic spot, Te Papa can offer hours of entertainment for exactly $0. Their newly opened Te Taiao | Nature includes all the best parts of the old nature exhibitions, plus a heap of new interactive features. And yes, the iconic earthquake house is still there too, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Head to the Weta Cave to snap a selfie with some life-sized sculptures of Weta creations, browse the gift shop, watch the behind-the-scenes documentary that screens every half hour, and take a look at their mini-museum of props from films that Weta have worked on. Movie fanatics, this one definitely isn’t to be missed.
Home to an ever-changing display of exhibitions from both Kiwi and international artists, the City Gallery always has something interesting on display. The quiet, airy space is the perfect break from the business of the Wellington streets, and it’s dangerously easy to spend a good few hours perusing the pieces.
While Te Papa tells the country’s story, Wellington Museum tells Wellington’s. Housed in a heritage building built in 1892, the Wellington Museum tells Wellington’s story from 1900, to present day. There’s interactive exhibits, installation art, and cinema—it really is the best place to learn about our favourite little capital.
Pick a good weather day and take a stroll up Mt Vic. While the hike can get quite sweaty when it’s warm out, the view at the top is always worth it. Once you reach the summit, take in the view, snap a pic, and whisper to yourself “you can’t beat Welly on a good day”. It’s tradition.
Spend an afternoon exploring the Botanic Gardens. Alternatively, if you’re not one for too much physical activity, pack a picnic, pick a nice spot to sit, and spend a couple of hours lying on the grass and eating cheese and crackers. Bliss. Very important side note: the playground has an adult-sized flying fox which is absolutely unmissable.
Whether you’re looking for a new addition to your family, or just feel like a good old fashioned cuddle with a cute animal, a visit to the Wellington SPCA is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Otari-Wilton’s Bush the only public botanic garden in New Zealand that is dedicated solely to native plants, and is home to some of New Zealand’s oldest trees, including an 800-year-old rimu. With over 11 km of walking tracks, a visit to Otari-Wilton’s Bush is a great way to get your steps in, soak up some vitamin D, and get amongst some of our countries most beautiful flora and fauna.
Spend half a day walking the track from Owhiro Bay to Red Rocks, the rugged coastline makes for some spectacular scenery. Make sure you carry on round to Sinclair Heads to see the seal colony too. Cute!
Wellington City Sculpture Walk
Hit the streets and spend a couple of hours doing the Wellington City Sculpture Walk. The full walk will take you past Wellington’s 17 inner-city sculptures, and up and down some of the cities most bustling streets. Just promise us that you won’t up climb any – think we’ve all learned that that doesn’t tend to end well…
Go for a walk, a sunbathe, or to dogspot. No matter what you’re doing, Oriental Bay is one of the best places to spend a sunny day. Fair warning though, 90% of Wellington will be joining you there if the weather’s good.
Wellington Free Outdoor Cinema
In the summer months, a trip to the Wellington Free Outdoor Cinema is the perfect way to spend an evening. Grab a blanket, pull up a beanbag, and have your popcorn at the ready.
Perhaps not quite as famous as Mt Vic, but with a view just as beautiful, a trek Mt Kaukau is fun, fitspo, and free. The summit offers panoramic views of the city and harbour, Hutt Valley, the Tararua Range, Porirua and the South Island, so it's the perfect spot for a picture to prove that you've exercised.
Buskers On Cuba Street
Ah Cuba Street, you never fail to disappoint us. Whether it’s a guy on a unicycle eating fire, or a tiny child absolutely killing it on the electric guitar, Cuba Street always provides the goods when it comes to street entertainment. Have a seat, enjoy the show and definitely chuck them a dollar or two.
Explore more of the region and take on one of Wellington's best walks and hikes.
Image credit: WellingtonNZ, Pivot, Wellington Free Outdoor Cinema