The Wellington and Wairarapa region is home to all of the good things in life – beautiful wine, boutique coffee and peaceful beachside towns. In the capital, you’ll find a number of popular tourist hotspots, and venturing out to Martinborough and the Kapiti Coast will have you sipping wine with your feet up in no time. Here’s our guide on what to do in Wellington City, and where to visit in the wider Wairarapa region.
A good way to start your holiday in this area is to visit Wellington Central for a couple of nights before heading to the Kapiti Coast or Martinborough. Here are a few of our favourite activities in the CBD for you to add to your travel schedule!
Weta Workshop Tours
The team at Weta Workshop work on projects for some of the most successful blockbuster films in the world. Just to name drop, the extensive list includes the Lord of the Rings, Thunderbirds Are Go, Avatar and Narnia. Impressed? Rightly so. They offer guided tours of their studio which will take you into the world of modelling and creating. You can choose to tour the Thunderbirds Are Go studio or the Weta Cave Workshop. Both of these are quite different experiences so combining the two is a good idea as well. It is a little out of the city, but busses and shuttles leaving from the CBD operate to and from the Workshop.
If you’re a bit of a history buff or love a bit of politics, a tour of Parliament should definitely be on your itinerary. Choose from a 30 minute or 60 minute tour that will fill your brain with rich history and give you a little overview of how New Zealand’s government operates. You’ll get to enter the debating chamber and if you’re lucky there might be a debate in session which you are free to watch from the public gallery.
Climb Mt. Victoria
The best view of Wellington is from the Mt. Victoria summit, where you’ll get gorgeous panoramic views of Wellington Central and Wellington Harbour. Several different paths will take you up, and for those allergic to walking there’s a road to the top as well. If you can, try and catch the sunset from the top. Watching the sun drop behind the city on a clear day is a great way to finish up a day of exploring the city!
Wellington is considered the coffee capital of New Zealand – you haven’t experienced Wellington right without visiting a few of the local cafes. Here’s our top 3 must-visit cafes.
Flight Coffee has sort of taken New Zealand by storm, creeping its way into some of New Zealand’s best cafes. They have an eclectic mix of blends that will be a pleasant surprise to your taste buds. If you’re a fan of coffee that’s bursting with flavour then this is the place to go. Whatever brewing method you can think of, chances are they have it there. There’s even tastings available for the seriously coffee-keen.
People’s Coffee Espresso Bar
People’s Coffee is another favourite Wellington coffee roaster, and their espresso bar is their flagship cafe. You’ll never be served a bad coffee here, only a delectable cheese scone that makes the perfect morning or afternoon snack. The staff are all a great bunch of people, and they have a really friendly atmosphere. Overall it’s a must-go if you find yourself in Wellington CBD.
If you’re looking for excellent coffee but would rather visit somewhere that is closer to a cafe than a brew bar, then Memphis Belle is the best of both worlds. Loved by locals, they offer a range of brewing methods with Flight Coffee. Their food cabinet is packed with tasty food and is praised by many visitors and regulars.
Places to visit along the Kapiti Coast
Just North of Wellington lies the Kapiti Coast. This area is packed with beaches, making it a perfect setting for a holiday home escape. We’ve chosen our favourite parts of the coast to give you a mini beach-guide – holiday planning made easy!
Just a 50 minute drive from Wellington Central, Paraparaumu is a beautiful coastal town. It’s home to one of Wellington’s greatest golf courses, the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. The town is also a good point to catch a ferry out to Kapiti Island itself, a predator free area that is bustling with native plants and wildlife. Here you have the option to take a day tour or even stay the night on a kiwi spotting tour with Kapiti Island Nature Tours. Otherwise go on a solo adventure and experience Kapiti Island yourself. For those craft beer lovers out there, Paraparaumu is also home to the famous Tuatara Brewery. You can book a Saturday tour here or just head over for a pint and some nibbles.
Find holiday homes in Paraparaumu Beach here.
Otaki Beach is rarely busy, has a great stretch of sand and there’s plenty activities to do in the area. Take the fishing boat out here or set the kids up with some boogie boards. The Otaki Community Club Market is a highlight here – selling fresh produce and local arts & crafts. You can catch this on the first and third Sunday of every month (except December), and every Sunday from January to March. The river walks are also a great thing to do on any day, and in the summer it’s a good idea to bring some togs and take a dip along the way!
Find holiday homes in Otaki here.
Just to the South of Paraparaumu is Raumati Beach. It’s a little less busy than Paraparaumu but is still within close driving distance to all of the main attractions there. Days are best spent here relaxing on the beach or having a barbeque at your holiday home. It’s a little bit of bliss along the Kapiti Coast.
Find holiday homes in Raumati South here.
Waikanae is a popular beach holiday destination. With more visitors and a larger population, it has a larger variety of activities, shops and services. The river here has good swimming hole spots and is an excellent site for whitebaiting. We recommend taking a hike through the Nga Manu nature reserve. There’s plenty to do here including visiting their butterfly garden, walk-through aviaries, and a nocturnal house. It has a lot of great educational information along the way, making it the perfect activity for a family day out!
Find holiday homes in Waikanae here.
Known as the wine village, Martinborough is a great place to base yourself for a good day or two of wine tastings. Hire a bike and explore them yourselves, or take a daily wine tour offered by Tranzit. With great wine comes great food, and the place to find it is at Pinocchio. They change their wine weekly and offer a great 7 course tasting with matched wine. Another point of interest is the Ventana Art Collective, where they run a number of workshops. Our pick of the crop is the ‘paint the masterpiece one sip at a time’ where you get to try local wines and recreate a famous painting with help of tutors!
Find holiday homes in Martinborough here.
Over to you…
Do you have any favourite activities or places to go in the Wellington/Wairapa region? Let us know by leaving a comment, we would love to hear your thoughts!
Featured Properties in Wellington/Wairarapa
One of two dwellings on site, Mokomoko Lodge is a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom Martinborough holiday home. Positioned to capture gorgeous vineyard views, this peaceful location is within easy proximity to everything on offer in the Martinborough region! View the listing here.
Kapiti at The Coast is a gorgeous 4 bedroom beachfront holiday home. The spacious, modern interior easily caters to both families and couples for a relaxing break. Direct access to the ocean beach is an added plus – perfect for winter walks or summer days spent by the sea! View the listing here.
Set among lush, private gardens, this 2 bedroom holiday home is the perfect relaxing base if you’re planning on exploring the vineyards of the region. The antique inspired interior is a great space to relax indoors, and the sheltered porch is perfect for al fresco dining in the summer. View the listing here.