Things to Do in Wellington in Winter

Looking out over the bay from Mount Victoria in Wellington

Winter arrives in Wellington in June and stays until August. Temperatures rarely plummet, with averages for the season ranging from 6° to 12°, but it can be rather wet, and the world’s smallest cool capital isn’t nicknamed “Windy Welly” for nothing, either! The geography of the Cook Strait means that unfortunately, it acts as a superb wind funnel that can bring strong winds to the Wellington area.

Welly’s windy and wet winter coastline can be a real draw for lovers of the romance and drama of nature, but it is no friend to a newly coiffured hairdo. If you’d rather keep your locks looking lush, and your feet dry, there are still plenty of things to get up to in Wellington.

Read on as we share some of our favourite winter Welly adventures with you!

1. Te Papa Museum

Te Papa museum is the result of the merging of New Zealand’s National Museum and National Art Gallery, and as such is the perfect destination for culture vultures. With a large range of ever-changing collections that have an emphasis on the living culture of New Zealand, Te Papa is a wonderful place to learn about the country, without having to take a face full of its wet winter weather. It’s open every day except Christmas day, and entry is free!

Te Papa Museum

Te Papa Museum

2. Eat the World at Capital Market

Capital Market is a glorious and increasingly popular undercover market in the heart of Wellington’s shopping and business district. The food in this place is amazing and very reasonably priced. Plus, you’ll find authentic dishes from all over the world here; a few hours can feel like a mini holiday in itself! The fact it’s undercover means you’ll also get a little welcome respite from the elements.

3. Shop ‘Til You Drop at the Underground Market

Another market here, but this time with lots of local crafts and artisan goods to go with its food stalls. Wellington’s underground market is situated along the waterfront and offers another opportunity to take a break from the weather and spend a little time engaging with Wellington’s home grown artistic and creative community. With plenty of goodies on offer and a lovely welcoming atmosphere, we can think of far worse ways to spend an afternoon.

4. The Wellington Jazz Festival

Taking place in early June, the Wellington Jazz Festival gets the winter off to an upbeat, swinging start. The festival attracts top names from all over the world who convene in the bars and on the streets of the city to put on 100 gigs over five days. Wellington is filled to the rafters with live music and entertainment and hopping from bar to bar at this time is a great way to become acquainted with some of the key sights and sounds of the city.

5. Grab a Beer or Two

Of course, you don’t need to confine your bar visits just to the Jazz Festival period. There are loads of craft beer houses to sample in Welly including Malthouse, Golding’s Free Dive, Rogue and Vagabond, Hashigo Zake, The Hop Garden, Little Beer Quarter, Crafters & Co. and D4 on Featherston. Sample some of the local offering while you dry out and warm up!

6. Tour the Parliament Buildings

New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings are a beautiful mixture of architectural styles and of course a place of great importance for the country. Located in Wellington, they’re well worth a visit on the outside – and the inside, because you can get out of the wind and rain and visit parliament for free! With several guided tour packages focussing on the workings of parliament, the artworks housed here, a quick highlights trip or one designed for kids, there’s something to please everyone.

7. Visit the Weta Caves and Go on the Weta Studio Tour

From time to time, when the weather outside is frightful, the urge to slip out of this world and into another can be irresistible, and once again Wellington has your back. The Weta Cave is the heart of the incredible Weta Workshop experience, which has been involved in world leading design and effects for films and other creative industries over the past thirty years. With world famous titles, truly iconic creations and a whole clutch of Oscars and other awards to their name, a visit and a tour at Weta Workshop will show you a world you’ll never forget.

8. Watch a Film at Nga Taonga

Ngā Taonga is New Zealand’s audio-visual archive and it collects and stores films, radio, television, sound recordings and other items that document the audio-visual history of the country. With archives going back 120 years there are some real treasures in its immense collection, and from time to time Ngā Taonga hold screenings of some of their more interesting artefacts. With a centre in Wellington, escape the weather and curl up in front of a film – with a difference!

9. Try and Escape, Mate

All this talk of escape has reminded us of another top activity for a rainy day in Welly. Escape Mate is New Zealand’s first fully automated escape room, and with a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence three years running, you can be assured of a fun – if not so relaxing – day out. A wonderful activity for a group, challenge your wit and problem-solving abilities and see if you can escape from some of the most magical and mysterious escape rooms on the planet.

10. Visit the New Zealand Cricket Museum

Sadly, fans of little chirping insects will be disappointed as this is a museum about the sporting variety of cricket, rather than the Jiminy one. Based at Wellington’s iconic Basin Reserve – New Zealand’s oldest cricket ground – the Cricket Museum is a must see for sporting fans looking for a little shelter! With a large collection of historical pieces and memorabilia of both the men’s and women’s game, the Cricket Museum is a terrific day out. “How’s that?!”

11. Wander Round the New Zealand Portrait Gallery

The New Zealand Portrait Gallery is housed in a beautiful building opposite Wellington’s waterfront. It deliberately attempts to collect portraits and representations of people from various cultural and political outlooks that have helped to shape the country of New Zealand. With wide-ranging collections of paintings, sculptures, photography and new media, and of course completely free admission, here’s a place you can immerse yourself in New Zealand, but not necessarily its winter weather.

12. Ride the Cable Cars

If you’re itching to get out and about, but Welly has dealt you a rainy, cold or windy day, then we’d recommend the Wellington Cable Car. The cable car takes you up to the top of Kelburn Hill, which stands 119 meters above the city and offers tremendous panoramic views. Views you say? Doesn’t that mean we have to get out in the wet again? Not necessarily… The top of the cable car has an indoor and outdoor viewing platform so that experiencing as well as admiring the outdoors is completely up to you. There’s a lovely café at the top (which also sells local craft beers), so grab a bite and a drink before you head back down.

Shot of the Wellington Cable Car looking out from the top

13. Visit the Reserve Bank Museum and Education Centre

With learning activities, rare exhibits and a really cool econometric computer (called the MONIAC), the Reserve Bank Museum and Education Centre takes you through New Zealand’s economic development and explains how its economy works today. Give yourself a break from the wind and duck inside for an enlightening and enriching afternoon!

Here at Silver Fern, we’re big fans of the wild winters of Wellington with its windswept coastline and glistening rain-soaked trees. But after a day or two of chasing our hats down the street and wringing out our socks, even we are ready for a bit of indoor action. Hopefully we’ve been able to give you a glimpse into some of the more sheltered activities you can indulge in during your trip to Wellington, so that you can at least get out of the weather for a bit, if you don’t want to avoid it completely!

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