Category: New Zealand

The Ultimate List of the Best Free Things to do in Wellington NZ

Wellington is the capital of picturesque New Zealand, which has been named the world’s “Coolest Little Capital”. The cosmopolitan is famous for it’s internationally recognised coffee culture and world-class culinary scene. There are various free things that you can do in Wellington even if you stay there for a day. 

Hello from Gandalf in the airport of Wellington

Hello from Gandalf in the Airport of Wellington

I’ve been living here for a year and decided to make a list of free fun things to do in Wellington. The vibrant and creative city never sleeps, it entertains citizens and tourists with numerous activities, like national museums, theatres and galleries. It offers a magnificent outdoor lifestyle and incredible harbour side setting. It is easy to explore on foo so just take a walk along the waterfront and enjoy a coffee in one of the cafés. 

Free Museums in Wellington NZ

Wellington International Airport

The first free museum of the cool capital is the gorgeous airport of Wellington located in suburb of Rongotai. It’s small but you will see the main heroes of the movie “Lord of the Rings”. You won’t miss them because they are huge.    

Must visit Free Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The best way to get to know the charming capital of New Zealand is to visit Wellington’s free museums. Amazing Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa with it’s famous exhibitions like Te Papa Gallipoli situated on Wellington’s waterfront. It’s an innovative and interactive national museum where you can experience the whole New Zealand in one building. If you want to know about Te Papa prices you will be surprised: It’s free!

Visit Wellington Museum

Another informative and interesting place to visit it Wellington Museum, which was designed by architect Frederick de Jersey Clere and built in 1892. You need to buy a ticket for a low price but there are four floors in this fascinating museum sharing the social and cultural history of this cosmopolitan. For example I didn’t know that Wellington was the first city in the whole world where women were allowed to vote. It’s also a pioneer of implementing the 8 hour work day as well as establishing a set minimum wage.

The Time Machine

The Time Machine

The imaginative exhibition includes various highlights like The Time Machine, which shows you the the very beginning of the universe, The Big Bang and continues with the most influential events of New Zealand’s development, i.e. the Maori landing in 925 and the establishment of a British colony in 1841. Furthermore the museum presents the maritime history of the harbour city Wellington including the dramatic story of The Wahine Maritime Disaster in 1968. The enormous ship sank close to the shore because of atrocious weather conditions and dragged 51 lives into the deep blue sea. But enough of this sad story, in Wellington museum you can also watch a spectacular holographic show about Maori myths and legends.

Wellington Museum

Wellington Museum

The Free Entry to Wellington Botanic Garden

Wellington Botanic Garden is a tremendous impressive garden which is open every day from dawn to dusk and it’s free. Enjoy Botanic Garden walk and observe exotic plants and flowers from different corners of the world for free. There are extensive and well-maintained walking paths with signs leading you to the various attractions. Spend the whole day in this scenic greenery and you will discover an entertaining children’s playground, free guided tours, glow worms in the Main Garden and the Botanic Garden Café with it’s amazing view. The Wellington Botanic Garden also offers free performances and events during the summer season.

The Botanical Garden and it's cute dinosaur

The Botanical Garden and it’s cute dinosaur

Must do in Wellington: Free Parliament Tours

If you have a secret admiration for politics and want to know everything about New Zealand’s Parliament and government, then you should find an hour of spare time to visit Parliament and participate in their gratis tour. Parliament tour prices: It’s free! Don’t judge the book by it’s cover, the building may not seem aesthetically sensational but people who are making decisions there give their best to improve citizens’ rights.

Parliament of Wellington

New Zealand, Parliament of Wellington

Visit Wellington Public Library

Important to mention for people who would like to stay longer or maybe even permanently in Wellington, to become a member of Wellington’s City Library won’t cost you a penny (and not only because they don’t have pennies here). Just bring your passport and proof of address and you can become one of the lovely book worms.

Free Beer Tasting at Garage Project Wellington

New Zealand is famous for it’s great craft beer. Wellington is an ideal city to try the variety of craft beer from their royal city brewery, because it’s the craft beer capital home. Visit the small brewery Garage Project and try their best creations on tap for free. You can also purchase your favorite one. If you feel like to sit down and enjoy your beer in a cold glass then check here the list of great places to eat and drink in Wellington. 

Free Beer Tasting at The Garage Project in Wellington, NZ

Walking tracks to Mount Victoria Lookout, Wellington

Walk to Mount Victoria Lookout, Wellington, NZ

Mount Victoria Lookout is a Wellington’s must do for every traveler no matter their age. It rises 196m above the city and rewards you with stunning views of New Zealand’s capital and it’s harbour. 

How to get to the Mount Victoria Lookout

The long but scenic way is from Wellington’s waterfront at Oriental Bay. The waling duration is around an hour. The shortest and most direct route up is from Majoribanks Street at the Eastern end of Courtney Place. It will take you around 20-30 minutes to get there. If you are not in the best shape and you prefer a more comfortable way of exploring, you can reach the summit by car. The adventurous ones can take the path from different sides. I will explain in the next paragraph why it’s better to choose Mount Victoria walking tracks.

Where to find Lord of the Ring trails in Wellington

Lord of the Rings Movie Locations (Hobbit’s Hideaway) Wellington, New Zealand

On the way to the summit of Mount Victoria in Wellington you will find signs that will lead you to the famous Lord of The Rings trails. You can do it on your own for free or ask the local. We decided to book a tour with John’s Captours and his comfortable 4 wheeler. He will tell you numerous interesting facts about the metropolis. John showed us some secret spots around the movie-making capital Wellington, where the legendary The Lord of The Rings was filmed. It’s a splendid experience to walk through the paths where all great actors were a part of Peter Jackson’s trilogy.

Enjoy the hot sun on the awesome Wellington’s Beaches

The city surprises with the beautiful and accessible Wellington beaches. On the hot day you can relax on the golden sand of the famous Freyberg Beach and even swim in the transparent blue water. Sometimes you can observe happy seals warming up their tummies in the Ocean. Another popular place is Scorching Bay Beach. Their you can even see orcas sometimes. Princess Bay is a bit further but also worth of visiting.

Popular tourist attraction: Wellington Cable Car

Cable Car in Wellington, New Zealand

Why should you experience Wellington Cable Car? The walk through the gigantic Botanic Garden can be exhausting but creative Kiwis know how to make the life of a curious traveler easier: There is a quick possibility to reach the centre of the city in five minutes by using the funicular railway of the Wellington Cable Car. Cable Car costs are $4 one way but if you use a Snappercard, which you can get in every kiosk or night shop, you can save 50 cents.

Fun Things to Do in Wellington: Cuba Street

Cuba Street Wellington city centre, New Zealand

Last but not least walk down the cult Cuba Street of Wellington. It’s famous for it’s trendy cafes, vintage clothes shops, street artists and cool sculptures. One of them is the Bucket Fountain that will definitely make you wet. Cuba Street it’s a place where you can observe sometimes weird, sometimes interesting locals and maybe even make some friends.

The best of Kapiti coast, New Zealand

The Kapiti Coast is the name of the coastal region in the south-west of New Zealand’s North Island. It lays just 40 minutes drive or a 1 hour train journey from central Wellington. The area offers infinite beach paths of grey sand along the coast and a relaxed, quiet atmosphere of the little towns like Paraparaumu. Wellington’s district is an ideal spot for travelers and locals who have an affinity for wildlife, nature and hiking. From the beach side of Kapiti you won’t miss the sight of the big Island’s silhouette across the water, it’s the main attraction, Kapiti Island. But before you decide to visit it check the essential packing list for it!

The streets of Paraparaumu

Why you should visit Kapiti Island in New Zealand

Kapiti Island is the most important sanctuary for the rare native birdlife of New Zealand. It’s also one of the few accessible nature reserves and it’s rich in history. In 1897 Prime Minister Richard Seddon introduced a bill to Parliament in order to conserve and protect the flora and fauna of the Island’s territory. So the habitat of the area has been created to keep the endangered species away from the threatening ones such as mammalian predators and pests. The government needed to use drastic methods to provide essential breeding grounds for marine animals and sea birds: 2000 goats were removed in 1928, the cats were eradicated by 1935 and over 20.000 possums were killed in a period of six years.

Picturesque views of Kapiti Island

Stunning Kapiti Island is 10 km long and 2 km wide, furthermore the amount of visitors is strictly limited, to keep outside influence to a minimum. In this world-renowned bird sanctuary you can see many endemic bird species that are already extinct on the mainland. The most famous are Kaka, Weka, Kiwi, Hihi, Kakariki, Kereru and etc. There are also various tracks with beautiful paths flowing through the forest. The fittest and most adventurous can reach the summit, Tuteremoana, which sits 521m above sea level.

Be quite if you want to take a picture of Takahe bird

The best way to visit and to explore the unique island is with Kapiti Explorer. They offer a day trip to the sanctuary. The journey starts from the Boating Club near Paraparaumu beach at 8:45 am. If you decide to come from Wellington as I did, then you need to take a train at 6:49 which will cost you $11,50. From Paraparumu you can take bus 260. The final stop will be just a stone’s throw away  from the departure spot. From there the boat will bring you to nature and bird lovers’ paradise.

Robin bird, a little poser

I would definitely suggest to book a guided tour to learn how to identify the rare species of New Zealand and to discover the secret nests of various birds like the cute little blue Pinguin, whom is living deep in the forest of this sanctuary. Acquiring this precious knowledge will cost you a mere $12 per person!

Fearless Weka

Where to eat in Kapiti, New Zealand

After a long day of exploring the island and getting to know various bird species  you will arrive back on the mainland probably very hungry. Anyway this is what happened to me and luckily I discovered a cozy little beach restaurant Marine Parade Eatery on the main street, 50 Marine Parade. It’s the only restaurant in Paraparaumu which has an amazingly colourful and modern design with a big passion for lovely details. You can also enjoy the view of the sea and relish the warmth of the sun from the restaurant’s terrace. And if it’s too hot outside which can doubtlessly happen during the summer period, try one of their refreshing New Zealand made streaming soda drinks.

Welcome to the charming Marine Parade Eatery

Marine Parade Eatery is a perfect place to savor a delightful bagel with a cup of energizing coffee for breakfast or have a marvelous lunch or dinner served with magnanimous portions of delicious healthy food. Every treat is unexpectedly tasty in this little gem of Kapiti, whether it’s the chocolate cake or one of the main courses. The friendly and smily staff will help you to find the perfect choice for you and even if you would like to alter your meal the chef will be more than happy to accommodate your wishes. Additionally Marine Parade Eatery makes all kinds of customers happy: Vegetarian, meat addict, seafood junky or sweet like sugar.

You can’t say no to delicious chocolate cake

We ordered seared beef fillet with blue cheese and anchovy butter, duck fat potatoes buttered baby carrots and broccolini and red wine jus for $34, pan fried fish with edamame, snow pea, peanuts, coriander, chili and miso dressed soba noodles for $32 and last but not least macadamia nut and swede coleslaw for $10. The food is divine and the coleslaw salad was the best salad that I’ve ever tried: The incredible combination of roasted macadamia nuts and yoghurt mixed with garlic dressing let us reach culinary heaven. The fish and meat were done on point, juicy and full of flavours. I enjoyed my meal with a glass of French Les Embruns Rose, which was a terrific choice. The beef fillet went well together with the cold beer of the day: The Garage Project pilsener.

Not only esthetically pleasing but also a feast in a mouth

I would highly recommend to stop by Marine Parade Eatery and experience memorable culinary magic. Just be aware of the opening hours if you want to go out for dinner, it’s only possible on weekends after 5pm. Moreover every Sunday from 3:30 pm your exquisite meals will be accompanied by live music (and hopefully good weather!).

If you are planning to visit the South Island of New Zealand too here are some awesome tips!

Amazing Wellington Day Tour to Wairarapa, New Zealand

If you’ve never heard about Wairarapa, it’s time to experience this Wellington Day Tour and to get know this tranquil Wellington’s surroundings. It occupies the south-eastern part of the North Island and contains three main sub-regions, Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton. There are plenty of marvelous places to discover and activities to enjoy. But before you decide to visit New Zealand check the essential packing list for it!

Pinnacles Track at Rimutaka Crossing

Best Day Trip from Wellington

If you have only one day in Wellington the ideal way to explore the attractive destination is by car. The drive from Wellington to Wairarapa region also offers an amazing scenic view. I was lucky to get to know John, who owns and operates Capital Personolised Tours company and offers a great selection of journeys throughout the best spots and surroundings of Wellington. John took me for the entire day to explore the gems of Wairarapa. The best about traveling with Cap Tours is that it does personalised trip in smaller groups, so you don’t need to hurry up if you would like to enjoy picturesque views without time pressure. Nevertheless John’s company is flexible and also provides tours for groups up to 12 people!

Lord of the Rings Film locations in Wellington

The archway from the movie Lord of the Rings

The day trip started when John picked me up from the place where I was staying in Wellington and we drove to our first stop: the exciting film locations of Lord of the Rings in Kaitoke. Shortly about Kaitoke: It’s a magnificent regional park where you can follow the signs to the spectacular Lord of the Rings filming locations complete with information panels. There you will find the secret spot used as the set for Rivendell in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Faithful fans should doubtlessly be aware that their camera battery is fully charged. The adventurous ones can walk on the swing bridge and enjoy the views of the Hutt River.

Swing bridge

Swingbridge in Kaitoke

Towns in Wairarapa: Greytown

There are some cute towns in Wairarapa and one of them is Greytown. It has nothing to do with the grey colour, contrariwise it’s a cute, colourful and sophisticated village with free Wi-Fi hotspots along the Main Street. It’s worth to make a stop and stroll through the mix of independent boutiques, art galleries, antique stores and great cafés.

Incredible Medina products: Daily Face Cream, Exfoliate, Eye Crem

Incredible Medina products: Daily Face Cream, Exfoliate, Eye Cream

It’s unexpectedly a great shopping destination where you can find various intresting products. I discovered the marvelous organic skin care shop Medina on 81 Main Street. It’s a little heaven for every girl and woman who are aware of taking good care of their skin using only natural, high quality products. Medina Morin is an inspired owner with a background in beauty therapy. All her products are handmade without any bad toxins and furthermore, they are not tested on animals. You would probably expect that the prices are insanely high, but surprise, surprise! Nothing is over $60 and you can already find natural daily face cream made from olive leaf extract for $35. I couldn’t resist and purchased 3 different products: face and eye cream, Egyptian hibiscus exfoliate. Additionally I got a little present, a detox mask tester. I’ve tried them all and they are amazing, my skin has never been so smooth and bright. So don’t hesitate to visit Medina in the shop or online and you can even ask for a consultation.

Taste Wine in Martinborough

Wine lovers don’t need to be asked twice to explore the surroundings of Martinborough, famous for it’s never-ending grape fields and family owned vineyards. Martinborough features over 30 wineries, most within walking distance of each other. If you decided to come without John’s luxury 4WD then you can rent a bike and experience a diverse representation of vineyards in a sporty way.

Infinite vineyards of Martinborough

The vineyards are not only for admiring but also to taste the great wine of Wairarapa. You will doubtlessly discover why Martinborough is famous for it’s Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. If you have the opportunity to visit this area in November don’t think twice: Toast Martinborough will be on, a famous wine, food and music festival.

Martinborough is just 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Wellington but it’s an ideal rural place to escape the hectic city and to enjoy high quality food and world class wines. Furthermore there are marvelous olive groves producing the finest award winning olive oil. If you have an opportunity to enjoy your sunny day somewhere else, then definitely go to this picturesque colonial village!

Amazing Sauvignon Blanc

Tip: Hungry one’s shouldn’t be worried, John from Cap Tours will take care of it and bring you to a top local restaurant to let you experience the best of the surroundings! 

An expedition to Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Colony of cute fur seals

Colony of cute fur seals, count how many you can see!

Cape Palliser is the most southern point of the North Island of New Zealand. The road to it is dramatically scenic and offers a fascinating sea and landscape. Furthermore on the roadside of the Cape is the largest colony of New Zealand fur seals. It’s worth to make a stop and observe sleepy voluptuous animals camouflaged on the rocks. The seals in New Zealand have lovely pointy noses and long whiskers. If you go on an adventure between November and January you will see plenty of adorable seal babies. Just be careful and don’t come to close to them, the seals may seem huge and lazy but they can move pretty fast when the feel threatened.

Just 251 stairs to reach Cape Palliser Lighthouse

When you reach Cape Palliser Lighthouse, which stands there since 1897, don’t be frightened by the notable 251 step climb to the cliff, it will test your fitness. On the top you will be rewarded with the unforgettable scenery of Palliser Bay. Unfortunately there is a sad story behind the deep majestic ocean: during the 19th century more than 20 ships wrecked near this area. Although it’s an incredible place to watch waves dramatically crash, to hear the strong wind roar and to feel one with nature.

Book a tour in New Zealand with Capital Tours

It was a long day but it was full of magnificent and memorable impressions. I was happy to explore the treasures of Wairarapa in an exclusive and most comfortable fashion. The road back to Wellington may seem for some travelers like me, to be winding and unsettling. John’s jeep is perfectly suited for whole day scenic trips, that’s why no need to worry. The pre-cautious person can bring some motion sickness pills or just try to fall asleep on the return journey as I did. Conclusively Wairarapa area is a must see and experience in New Zealand! Check also The Ultimate List of the Best Free Things to do in Wellington NZ

John’s comfortable four-wheeler (Capital Tours)

Things to Do in Wairarapa Outside of the Tour

Visit Native New Zealand Wildlife

Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre
Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre

You can also see Native New Zealand Wildlife in the wonderful Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. There are various rare birds and the world-famous in New Zealand “Manukara”, unique white kiwi bird.

Visit The Tui Brewery

Tui is the most iconic New Zealand beer and it is brewed in Mangatainoka. You can visit the brewery, taste beers and buy something nice at their “Tui” shop.

Walking & Hiking experience in Wairarapa

There are plenty of various hiking, walking and biking tracks. There are awesome coastal views, easy walking forest parks and more Lord of the Rings locations.

1 Day In Auckland Itinerary

There are various possibilities to follow itinerary and spend a perfect 1 day in Auckland. Very often mistaken for a capital of New Zealand, Auckland is the most populated city in New Zealand.  It’s famous for it’s two natural harbours, busy CBD occupied by tall skyscrapers and surroundings filled with magnificent landscapes. It’s a perfect stopover and smooth introduction to the country before you start your long adventure through the land of Tolkien’s mystical creatures. But before you decide to visit New Zealand check the essential packing list for it!

Streets of Auckland CBD

Streets of Auckland CBD

Getting to and from Auckland

When you arrive in Auckland don’t expect to experience the vibrance of big cities such as Sydney, New York or any other great metropolis. The prices for rent are unreasonably high, so if you are planning to stay a bit longer in New Zealand my advice don’t stay too long in Auckland. Additionally obesity has become a huge problem in the whole country, that’s why be prepared to see plenty of enormous people. Nevertheless it’s worth to stay one or more days here and explore the thriving and accessible beauty of nature.

Auckland is perfect as a base to travel to other places in New Zealand like Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin and Queenstown. But you can also use various bus operators such as Kiwi Experience to start your tour from Auckland and explore the best of North Island.

It’s very easy to navigate in the city and public transport can bring you to the main attractions of the town. Kiwis who live in Auckland prefer to drive everywhere with the car though because the bus connection still needs some improvement. Another great way to get to know the best of Auckland in a most comfortable way is to get a ticket for the hop on and off bus.

Where to stay in Auckland

As I mentioned before that bus connection in Auckland still needs some improvement that’s why I recommend finding accommodation in the heart of the city or Central Auckland. Suburbs can be boring and buses don’t always run late.

In my opinion the best hostel with a private room in Auckland is YHA Auckland International.It’s clean, spacious, offers 2GB free Wi-Fi per day and is very close to the centre. Another great hostel which is a bit further from the heart of Auckland but the cheapest option in the city is Haka Lodge. Free Wifi throughout the hostel and the rooms are tidy with big windows. For those who love movies will be happy to hear that there is even a mini-cinema in the hostel.

48 hours in Auckland itinerary – Day 1

Auckland Sky Tower

For our first Auckland in a day itinerary, we will start from Auckland city itself. Here you can find the main signature of Auckland: 328 meters tall and 20 years old Sky Tower, located in the heart of the city. You can not only only observe the beautiful building from every corner of the metropolis but you can also enjoy different kinds of attractions. The adrenaline junkies can do SkyJump or SkyWalk, foodies can taste exclusive meals in the restaurant placed on the base of the complex and Instagram-fans can take overwhelming pictures from 220 meters high above ground level, for a decent price of course.

Enjoy free activities in Auckland

It’s hard to believe but there are plenty of interesting activities that you can experience without paying a penny for it. One of them is movie time in Silo Park, across from the Viaduct Harbour, during the summer months every Friday or Saturday. There you can immerse into a relaxed afterwork atmosphere of the city and taste the goodies of the night market.

If you love art then you definitely need to visit Auckland Art Gallery after you strolled through Albert Park. You will be charged for temporary exhibitions but general admission is free. In Auckland Museum you will get an education about New Zealand gratis but only if you have a proof of an Auckland address. Otherwise you need to pay 25$.

Auckland Highlights – Cornwall Park

To spend 1 perfect day Auckland you should definitely explore wide tranquil green spaces and see the typical countryside scene of New Zealand filled with numerous cute sheep. Visit Cornwall Park, the largest area of parkland in Auckland city. In the 18th century the area was the centre of the Maori occupation.

It’s very easy to get to Cornwall Park, you just need to take the bus 309, 302 or 312 direction Mangere or Onehunga from Queen Street. It takes around 30 minutes to get to the location and then you are free to explore the green surroundings.

One Tree Hill Domain

One Tree Hill Domain

Follow the path and you will reach One Tree Hill Domain located on one of the metropolis’s volcanos. To reach the top of the hill will be challenging but in the end you will be rewarded with a fabulous city view from the summit.

Auckland Sightseeing – Mount Eden

Another pride of the big city Auckland is the 196 meter high dormant volcano enclosed with magnificent hiking trails, carrying the name Mount Eden or Maungawhau. If you had enough of walking but you want to reach the summit with the deep crater then you can also go by car or even shuttle bus. From the top of the hill you can enjoy a fantastic 360-degree view of the city and it’s harbours.

Amazing Mount Eden

Amazing Mount Eden

You can reach Mt Eden by taking a bus number 274 or 277 from Downtown Britomart every 15 minutes. Just don’t forget to wear very comfortable sport shoes to admire the nature without suffering.

Check out the eateries at Ponsonby

Delicious Pork Burger

Delicious Pork Burger

Ponsonby is a posh and well-known suburb in Auckland. Just minutes away from central Auckland, it offers great boutiques with amazing shopping experiences and in the evening you can taste from high end restaurants to the freshest fast food. If you are very hungry visit Burger, Burger. The service and vibes are amazing at that place and most importantly the food is delicious. Additionally the portion of the sides are tremendous. For little money you will be fed and happy!

Sides: Huge potatoes

Sides: Huge potatoes

Don’t forget to visit the capital of New Zealand: The charming Wellington! More about it you can find here.

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