Wellington Rental Car Travel Itinerary
New Zealand’s capital city offers visitors a huge selection of culture, art, events and attractions along with a bunch of really amazing places to dine and relax. Sitting snuggly at the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington a relatively compact city, is surrounded by steep hill country and the ocean.
Need some inspiration when visiting Wellington for a week or more? We’ve put together a helpful travel itinerary with some of the best attractions and activities on offer, all within easy driving distance.
Lets get going and explore!
- Whether arriving by air, by road or on the Interisland Ferry, it’s worth spending your first day exploring the sights and sounds of the capital. The busy shopping areas around Cuba Street, Manners Hall and Lambton Quay, are a bustling hive of activity.
- Find a treasure trove of boutique fashion shops, large department stores and quirky gift and gadget stores as well as trendy vintage outlets and an entire range of one-of-a-kind items and bargain buys.
- Head over to the Waterfront to find some delicious food truck style foods for an on the go lunch or for something more ‘sit-down’, try Shed 5 at Queens Wharf.
- The huge Te Papa Museum is the destination for the afternoon, definitely a must-do when in Wellington. Expect to find rare and exotic specimens, historic artifacts, cultural treasures and a wide selection of historic and contemporary items from the Pacific Islands.
Wildlife is the feature today, along with some fresh air and sunshine!
- Just 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Wellington, The Zealandia Eco-Sanctuary is a tranquil haven in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy a relaxing morning roaming the reserve or take a guided tour.
- Tours are available daily and depart at 10am, 11am and 1pm. Booking is essential. Entrance to the reserve is also available at night, with a guided evening tour available around sunset.
- Enjoy the beautiful views, and birdsong at the Rata Café over a long leisurely lunch then its off to the Wellington Zoo for the afternoon. Get up close and personal with the Lions, Lemur, Cheetah or Giraffe.
Up, up and away!
- Take the iconic Wellington Cable Car to the Kelburn Lookout, take in some of the city’s best views and then make your way on over to the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
- Don’t miss the Begonia House for some beautiful Begonias and Orchids, the Camellia Garden and the Lady Norwood Rose Garden. There are several self-guided walking tracks – find a handy map on the Botanic Gardens Website or grab one from the Visitor Centre on arrival.
- Head on over to Space Place when you are finished at the Gardens and take a seat and relax in the full-dome planetarium for a spectacular astronomy show. Explore the interactive galleries and listen to stories of the past.
- For the perfect end to an amazing day, why not treat yourself and enjoy a delicious dinner at Logan Brown on Cuba Street then sample some of the lively nightlife around the Courtenay Precinct.
Heading up the coast lets enjoy a little taste of New Zealand outside of the big city.
- Hitting the road, it’s off to Paraparaumu we go for a bit of sightseeing and to call in at the Southward Vintage Car Museum. Grab some morning tea at the Lindale Café, and then try your hand at Paintball at the Adrenalin Kapiti Coast arena.
- Stop off at the Kapiti Tenpin for a quick round of good old fashioned Ten Pin Bowling if you have the time or choose your favourite café from the eclectic mix along Paraparaumu’s main street for a quick bite to eat.
- While you are at Paraparaumu, head to the Department of Conservation office to gain a permit for a sightseeing or diving trip to the wildlife sanctuary on Kapiti Island – it’s well worth the effort!
Taking it a bit further afield today, Palmerston North is the destination.
- Roughly 2 scenic hours drive from Wellington central, Plamerston North is a quintessential kiwi town that is big on celebrating New Zealand’s sporting achievements.
- Stop in at the the Science Centre, Manawatu Museum and Manawatu Art Gallery in an easy one-stop fun destination to kick things off.
- Grab some lunch at one of the great cafes and restaurants sprinkled around the Square, then check out the famous New Zealand Rugby Museum. Don’t miss the great ‘Have A Go’ area and the opportunity to enjoy some of New Zealand’s iconic rugby memorabilia.
- Just over the Manawatu River, the Victoria Esplanade has a variety of riverside walks, a miniature railway and a swimming pool for you to enjoy. Or for the thrill-seekers, the Manawatu Gorge can be explored by either jet boat or kayak by heading just a few kilometres east of the city.
Back in the Capital today, its time to take in some… politics?
- New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings are situated in Wellington, watch the government in action, take a guided tour or sit in on a heated discussion in the Debating Chamber. Please note: A good standard of dress is required to enter the Public Gallery in the Debating Chamber.
- Check out the iconic Beehive building and take a look through the Bowen House Exhibition Space for a rotating program of art exhibitions and historical displays.
- Head across the road to the Backbencher Gastropub for an interesting lunch complete with politician inspired menu bound to inspire a few giggles. Our top pick is the D. Seymour Open Chicken Sandwich and the P. Bennet Salmon Salad.
- For the afternoon, how about hitting the Wellington streets on foot. ‘Wellington On Foot’ tours are available every day from October through to March or by booking ahead. The Culture and Society Tour is a good one for discovering hidden gems in the inner city where as the History and Monuments Tour is perfect for those wanting to learn a bit about the history of Wellington.
Taking it slow today, its time to wind down before hitting the road again.
- After a late breakfast with a twist at the legendary Boat Café (Their Cinnamon French Toast is amazing!) take a wander along the Oriental Bay beach front and boardwalk and enjoy the sunshine and sea air.
- Stop for an award winning Gelato at Kaffee Eis and take the time to enjoy the indulgence as you make your way to the start of the Southern Walkway. This walkway meanders along through native bush and offers some great views from the Mount Victoria Lookout.
- You can take the Walkway all the way down to Alexandra Park and then make your way back to Oriental Bay via the Basin Reserve and Kent Terrace.
- Grab some excellent Fish and Chips at the Mt Vic Chippery on your way past and eat them ‘Kiwi style’ down on the beach at Oriental Bay.