Free Things to Do in Wellington

by tanlinesandtempeh

Are you heading to New Zealand’s capital on your trip? Good choice, Windy Wellington – as people call it for obvious reasons – has a lot to offer. Let me tell you about the free things to do in Wellington.

Yes, you read that right. The things I’m going to tell you about are all free. Wellington is the ideal city for backpackers as there is so much to do without having to spend any money! It is actually one of the places I’d recommend staying a few more nights at. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Hike Up to Mount Victoria Lookout

You’ll probably notice Mount Victoria walking around in Wellington. The Mount Victoria Lookout is easily accessible from the city center. At 196m, you get a 360-degree view of Wellington. You can take several routes through bush or forest to get to the top.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything up there to chill and enjoy the views; no grass areas as for example on top of Mount Eden in Auckland. However, the views are still worth the 25-minute hike to the top and you can take a break in a meadow about five minutes away from the peak.

The view from the lookout.

Visit Te Papa Tongarewa

I’m usually not one to recommend museums but this one is very different. Te Papa is also known as “our place” and it is New Zealand’s national museum. Located on Wellington’s waterfront, it is very easy reachable from the city.

There are a variety of free exhibitions at Te Papa.

Let me tell you, you could spend the whole day at Te Papa without getting bored. Granted, I only spent about three hours inside, but that was because the weather was really nice. I could have stayed much longer. There is no entry fee, but some short-term exhibitions might not be free. However, the free exhibitions are already amazing – with their World War One exhibition and the Maori exhibition being the highlights.

These figures in the WW1 exhibition are impressively detailed!

Take a Tour of Parliament

The first thing you’ll probably notice about the parliament in Wellington is its unique architecture. The Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings is called “The Beehive” for obvious reasons.

The Beehive is the building in the back.

There are two free tours you can do in the Parliament; Introducing Parliament (60 minutes) and Highlights of Parliament – the difference being in the number of places they visit. Usually, you don’t have to prebook any of the tours but can just show up a few minutes before the tour starts. Just make sure to check the times of the tours on the day you want to go online so that you don’t show up three minutes after the last tour of the day left like we did the first time I was in Wellington.

Make sure to check out the times online.

I came back another time, though, and did the longer tour. It was really interesting and who knows, you might be as lucky as I was and catch a glimpse of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern walking by.

Stroll Around the Botanical Gardens

Wellington’s Botanical Gardens are near central Wellington. The easiest way to get there would be to take the cable car from Lambton Quay but since we’re sticking with free things to do in Wellington, you can also walk there. Which is what I did and it’s totally doable. Inside the botanical gardens, you’ll find a pond, lots of flowers (obviously), a visitor center, a large children’s play area, and a sculpture walkway. Overall, there is enough to see to keep you busy for quite some time.

The pond at the Botanical Gardens.

Do the Red Rocks Walk to See Seals

Technically, this wasn’t one of the free things to do in Wellington for me. Since we didn’t want to walk all the way to the beginning of the Red Rocks Walk, we took a bus to get closer. You don’t have to do that, though, and the walk itself is free. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any seals but it was still a very nice walk and I liked the neighborhood we walked through from the bus stop to the beginning of the walk.

Just another nice walk in New Zealand.

Relax at Oriental Bay

This suburb of Wellington has the closest beaches to the central city. Fun fact, the beach is actually man-made with sand from South Island’s city Nelson. It is very close to Mount Victoria, so consider relaxing here after your (not so hard) hike up to the lookout.

It looks way better when the sun shines – I promise!

Visit the Friday Night Markets on Cuba Street

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try this free activity in Wellington as I was never there on a Friday. However, Cuba Street is one of my favorite places in Wellington with all of its cute shops, restaurants, and cafes – not to mention the colorful street! So, this is probably a fun thing to do.

Work Out in One of the Parks

One thing I noticed about Wellington is that its citizens seem to be very active. Whenever you stroll along Orient Bay (or anywhere else at the waterfront, for that matter), you’ll see people jogging, and in the parks, I’ve seen multiple workout meetups. So why not join in? You could ask at your hostel or look on Facebook for any sports meetups happening or just start your own!

Did you do any of these free things to do in Wellington? How did you like them? Did I miss anything?

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