Wellington New Zealand is a wonderful place for kids.
Because it has more free activities than any other place in New Zealand!
I would liken Wellington to the Washington DC of New Zealand, for its abundance of free museums that are spectacular for kids.
It is also easily navigated by foot (or in our case “scooterable”) which makes it a fun city to explore.
What to do in Wellington with Kids
1. Te Papa
Every guide-book says it, and I didn’t really believe that it could be that great after going to the Auckland Museum and being a bit disappointed. But Te Papa, as its name would suggest, is the granddaddy of all museums.
Every floor is designed to be a treasure trove for kids, walk about 5 minutes and you will come across a kids activity center. Go to the art gallery and they even have a special super sleuth game designed to get your kids excited about art.
Kids naturally want to learn and it does my heart well to see a museum designed to build upon this innate love for learning.
The following day after we visited Te Papa we went back into town to find the cable car and visit the botanical gardens.
We were met by 70 mph winds and some rain, but surprisingly our kids didn’t seem to mind.
We found the cable car entrance (thank you trusty Google Maps) and we took the cable car up for about $13 US. The best part is, you can get a one way ticket and walk, or again in our case scooter, all the way back down to the start.
The gardens are free and there is an amazing playground with a flying fox. Takes about 30-45 minutes to make it down the back of the mountain and the trail ends right back in the city where you started.
This was a half day adventure in my book (at least when it is windy and rainy) but it was a lot of fun and totally worth the effort.
3. Mount Victoria Lookout
We didn’t mean to go the lookout, our car just headed up there while discovering the city and driving the coastal route.
The road is awesome, straight up the mountain and narrow with two-way traffic! You will wonder several times if you are going the right way but this is what makes it fun.
The view from the top on a sunny day is amazing and is worth the drive up. Our kids liked it, we drove down and then followed this up with a trip to Te Papa to make a day out of it.
4. The Weta
The Weta Workshop was another accidental find, somewhere in our readings I heard that Peter Jackson had a production company in Wellington where they did the special effects for the Lord of the Rings. As a movie and effects buff this sounded like fun for the entire family.
Once again, I heard the workshop was FREE, I couldn’t believe it so I had to see it.
We took a half day before the cable car ride to go to the Weta Workshop. They showed a 30 minute feature film showing how they do movie effects, it was gross and a bit violent, the kids loved it. Then we paid the $40 to take the 45 minute workshop tour.
They have the real props from some of the best movies of all time, your tour guide will be one of the Weta artists and after you leave you will be thinking about a change of professions.
It was super cool, and super fun, and I would do it again.
The best part: The Hobbit Trolls!
Where to Stay With Kids in Wellington
We stayed in the Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park outside of the city, it wasn’t bad, but if I were to do it again I would recommend staying in the city if you can.
The kitchen cabin in the Top 10 was lackluster (despite an awesome jumping pillow) and it looked a bit like a prison cell. I thought it was a bit overpriced at $120 NZ per night. That being said, most Wellington accommodations will be in th range of $160 for families.