Aotea Lagoon is a large park in Papakowhai. It has a huge wooden fort, a long track around the lagoon (which is good for biking and scooting) and lots of picnic spots. Download a map of the lagoon here: map of lagoon. The park is open every day. For directions, click here: view map.
Adrenalin Forest is a park full of rope bridges, swings and flying foxes. The platforms range in height with different levels of challenge (the highest ones are designed to make you feel as though you are flying through the trees). You are attached with a safety harness and you get a safety briefing before you start. The park is open from 10 am to 2 pm every day except Christmas. Click here for more information: more on Adrenalin Forest. Click here for directions: view map.
New Zealand’s friendliest pet store and a great place to check out puppies, kittens, turtles, mice, rats, guinea pigs, birds and fish. Animates Kaiwharawhara is at 132 Hutt Road. The store hours are 8.30am – 6pm weekdays and 9am to 5pm weekends. Click here for directions: view map.
Babes in Arms Movies
Bring your tot and check out a movie! Note that many “babes in arms” sessions don’t run during the school holidays. For all the sessions on around the city, check out Babes in Arms.
Wellington has fantastic city beaches. Try these ones:
Pick Your Own fruit
Have a day picking your own apples at Ration Creek or blueberries at Bluebank or the Blueberry Farm in the Akatarawas or BerryHealthy at Pauatahanui. Take a picnic. Bluebank also has an emu farm and Blueberry Farm a petting zoo. Listings of “pick your own” farms here: Pick your own.
Bolton Street Cemetery
Take the Memorial Trail through the Bolton Street Memorial Park. Start at Seddon’s Memorial (by the playing fields next to the Rose Gardens in the Botanical Gardens) and pick up a brochure at the gate. The brochures include a detailed map with information on noteworthy graves. This cemetery was established in 1841 and used until the Karori cemetery was established in 1892. The trail provides a fantastic trip through the early history of Wellington and some wonderful insights into its inhabitants. For more information: Bolton Cemetery.
A wealth of activities for all ages. Feed the ducks at the duck pond, play in the stream just up from the duck pond, kick a ball around the sound-shell lawn, check out the rose-garden and fountain. The Begonia House is surprisingly good for toddlers – go right to the end where the lily pond and goldfish are. Play on the stage at the Dell. Hunt for bugs and look out for birds on the bush tracks. For more information visit, Botanic Garden.
A fun trip up and back and you can also explore the Cable Car museum and the upper parts of the Botanical Gardens. For more information click here: Cable Car.
Moved from the old building at Civic Square, Capital E now have a smaller but still great space at Queens Wharf. Interactive toys, books, climbing frames and even a couple of wishbone bikes and free drawing and crafts. Capital E also offers loads of great classes and activities both in term time and the holidays and kids’ theatre at Hannah Playhouse. More information: Capital E.
The Space Place (formerly Carter Observatory) includes interactive, multimedia exhibitions on the Southern Skies, a planetarium, heritage telescopes, and space-themed gift shop. Every Sunday at 10.15am, and every Wednesday 10.15am during school holidays, there is a special planetarium show for pre-schoolers. Entry for under-fours is free. Adults and older children pay regular price, which includes access to the rest of the Observatory’s interactive exhibitions including simulated rocket launches, digital solar systems, Maori mythologies written in the stars and a cool spaceship module. They also host themed parties! For more information, visit their website: Space Place. Or email or phone: email@example.com and +64 4 910 3140.
An indoor children’s adventure playground and cafe with bouncy castles and a variety of play equipment. Located at the Tawa Dressmart Mall, Main Road, Tawa and Airport Shopping Centre, Lyall Bay. Chipmunks
Worth a visit at any time but if you have an infant, we also recommend the “Gallery Babes” tours. A curator leads a tour and explanation of the exhibits. Bookings essential. The tours are approximately monthly on a Wednesday, mid-morning. Click here to see the next session and book: Gallery Babes.
Matairangi Nature Trail
The play stations along the Matairangi Nature Trail on Mount Victoria reflect and imagine elements of nature. They are based on the habitat of the matuku hūrepo, kapokapowai, tuna, moko pirirākau and wētā. Each station provides opportunities for kids to step, jump, slide and climb as they walk through and along the nature trail. For more information, visit Matairangi Nature Trail.
Nairn Street Cottage
This is central Wellington’s oldest building (formerly Colonial Cottage), built in 1858 by William Wallis. It has been beautifully preserved and set up to illustrate life at the time it was built. Has a garden to celebrate. Open 10am to 4pm in the holidays, 12pm to 4pm other days. 68 Nairn Street, Mount Cook, Wellington 6011. For more information, visit Nairn Street Cottage. For directions: View Map
Country Club Riding Academy
The Ohariu Valley Horse Trekking & Equestrian Centre, also known as the Country Club Riding Academy – Wellington’s premier horse trekking adventure experience. Escape the city and enjoy memorable horseback adventures with our range of horse treks, which are guided by friendly, experienced staff. Located in the heart of Ohariu Valley, only 20 minutes drive from Wellington City, offering 600 acres of beautiful farmland to trek over. The Academy has pony rides available for younger children (usually aged 2-8 or 9 years of age) as well as horse treks for children aged 8 years and over and adults. Suitable horses are available to be led by parents or caregivers in the outdoor sand arena. Ideal for younger children and children’s birthday parties. More information: Country Club Riding Academy.
Hire a “crocodile” and peddle around the Wellington waterfront. The crocodiles are hired from Herd Street (near the entrance to the Overseas Terminal). They hire from 10am “till sundown” weekends. and school holidays. For more information: Crocodiles.
Pencarrow Heads and Pencarrow Lighthouse (the site of New Zealand’s first lighthouse): Start at Burdans Gate, Eastbourne. Return to the lighthouses is approximately 2 hours. Information about the lighthouse here: Pencarrow Lighthouse (did you know that Mary Jane Bennett operated the first permanent lighthouse at Pencarrow. She was New Zealand’s only female lighthouse keeper. She took over when her husband drowned in the harbour in 1855).
Ara Harakeke: The “flaxen pathway”. This is a tar-seal path that runs parallel to the motorway, through beautiful flax groves, from just outside Plimerton to Pukarua Bay. The southern end off the Plimmerton Domain is near the Mana roundabout (where Palmers Garden centre is).
Hutt River Trail: This trail follows alongside the Hutt River from Hikoikoi Reserve right to Upper Hutt (approximately 29 kms).
Fairy Door Hunt
Imagination Doors in Titahi Bay have set up a Fairy Door Trail so you can take the kids on a hunt for fairy doors. The doors are in Titahi Bay and there-about. Keep an eye out around town for the coffee-loving fairy’ doors too.
There are few parent recommended spots for feeding ducks. Botanic Gardens is a great spot, head to the Treehouse first to get your bag of maise then head down to the duck pond. Or try Avalon Park, with lots of ducks, and if you go on a quieter day they all swarm around you. You can also try Aotea Lagoon or Whitby Lagoon.
Central Park playground (in Brooklyn) has a 50 metre flying fox that can take three children at once! There is a flying fox at Khandallah Pool park too. Directions to Central Park Play Area: View Map
Fire Station Tour
Wellington fire stations will take visiting groups so get a gaggle together and arrange a visit. All call-outs take precedence of course but if the fire engines are in, the kids can usually climb up into the cab and the fire-fighters will give a display of their uniforms and gear. Information about the Wellington central station is here: Fire Stations. Email CityStn@fire.org.nz to arrange a visit.
At the end of the Overseas Terminal wharf is a good spot for in town. For gear and good advice go to Steve’s Fishing Shop, 49 Ghuznee St.
Capital Trout Centre
Located opposite the recycle centre, Landfill Road, in Happy Valley, kids can attend regular Open Days throughout the year. Kids must obtain a fishing license (free) from three outlets in the Wellington area and must be aged from 2 years old up to 11 years old.
- Steves Fishing Shop Ghuznee Street
- Hutt Valley Hunting & Fishing Alicetown
- FishScene Ltd, 1c Taurima St, Hataitai Village, Wellington
These licences are generally available two weeks prior to each Open Day. For more information and to find out their open days, visit Capital Trout Centre.
A great adventure for families and discover some new Wellington locations. Get the coordinates, download the Geocaching app or use a GPS and start hunting! For more information and Wellington Geocaching spots, visit Geocaching.
Built in 1876 by John Golder. Has been restored and is now a small museum, set up to show life at the time it was built. Open only on Saturdays and public holidays from 1:30pm – 4pm. View Map
An indoor playground with climbing , an inflatable slide, ride on toys and a ball tent. There is a separate play area for toddlers. There are two locations in Wellington: 52 Hall Street, Newtown and Hutt Indoor Sports Centre, Hutt Park, 93 Hutt Park Road, Seaview. Both are open 9.30am – 5.30pm, 7 days a week (6.30pm on Fridays). Mondays are 2 for 1 (two children for the price of one).
Katherine Mansfield House
Some interesting “tidbits” about the author and historical displays from the 1900s. 25 Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington: Katherine Mansfield House.
Kaitoke Regoinal Park
Visit the beautiful Lord of the Rings Elvish Archway in Rivendell at Kaitoke Regional Park. It’s about a 45 minute drive from the CBD, and the archway is a short walk from the car park with a great picnic spot. You can also go camping during the summer. For more information, visit Kaitoke Regional Park.
Fergs Kayaks hire out kayaks for the Wellington harbour. Shed Six, Queens Wharf.
Kilbirnie Recreation Centre
As well as housing Tinytown (see below) the Rec Centre has a 20m by 40m concrete rink – with sport court flooring, 1.5m barrier and safety netting, which is great for riding bikes, skateboards and scooters. And on the weekends they have indoor hockey sticks and puts available and they put up ramps. Open from 9am to 9pm on weekends and 10pm on weekdays (closed public hols). More information:KilbirnieRec.
Casual “gym” classes for 1 – 5 years, held at the Te Rauparaha Arena. Includes songs, bats and balls, and a very popular swing, as well as the traditional kids gym equipment. Class times and dates here: Kindy Gym.
Strike 35 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua and 399 Hutt Road, Lower Hutt.
Laserforce 133 Tory St
Lasertag 2 Westminster Street, Kaiwharawhara
Little Chef Cooks
Little Chef Cooks is all about creating a child-centred, skills-based experience in the kitchen for children aged 2-6+ years in your own home. See their Facebook page: Little Chef Cooks. On there Facebook page, parents will find a new recipe or activity from “OUT OF THE ACTIVITY BOX” each month for their enthusiastic little chefs. You can also choose to receive a monthly newsletter by sending an e-mail with “Newsletter” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nairnville Park playground has the longest slide in Wellington. It is a plastic tube slide like a hydroslide. Nairnville.
Lotsa Follies Petting Zoo
A small petting zoo in Tawa. You need to phone to arrange your visit and more geared to groups but they are very accommodating. Phone or text Phil Martin on 027 242 9678. Website: Lotsafollies.
Indoor Grand Prix 2 Westminster Street, Kaiwharawhara
Daytona Old Ford Building, 43B Seaview Road, Seaview
North City Indoor Raceway 3 Raiha Street Elsdon, Porirua (claims to have the “fastest OSH approved Karts in NZ”).
Marine Education Centre
The Island Bay Marine Education Centre houses an amazing collection of sea-creatures. There’s a huge “touch-tank” full of starfish, crabs and more which children can touch and pick up plus loads of tanks full of all sorts of fascinating things. The centre is open every Sunday 10am – 3pm ($4 adults and $2 child entry). For school or group bookings email email@example.com. Click here for directions: octopus.
These run on Sundays at:
Maidstone Park, Sundays between 1 – 4pm. More information: Maidstone Railway
Petone (next to the playground), 1 – 2 pm Sundays.
Queen Elizabeth Park on the Kapiti Coast, Sundays from 1 – 4pm. More information: Kapiti rail
Loco in Otaki, Sundays , 11am – 4pm (from 1 October to 30 April). More information: Loco.
Carlucci Land 281 Happy Valley road
Get in the Hole Railway Ave, Wellington
Pirate’s Cove 2 Wineera Drive, Porirua. For more information, visit Pirate’s Cove.
Visit one of Wellington’s model train shops. They have tones to look at, including running model trains:
Mack’s Track at the Plimmerton Railway Station (catch the train there if you can) Mack’s Plimmerton
Mack’s Track at Johnsonville (4 Johnsonville Rd).
Mount Vic Lookout
360 views of the harbour and city. View Mount Victoria Lookout.
This is a museum of Wellington (formerly Museum of City & Sea), celebrating Wellington’s social, cultural and maritime history. There are some great parts for kids of all ages: several reconstructions (one complete with hologram rat!) and an interactive sea ship area which little kids particularly like (Jack’s Boathouse). More information here: Wellington Museum.
New Zealand Cricket Museum
Located in the Old Grandstand of the Basin Reserve. Includes memorabilia dating back to 1743. Between 1 November – 30 April it is open Monday to Friday 10.30am – 3.30pm: View map
Night Market, Cuba Street area
Take the kids for dinner at Wellington’s Night Market. On Friday at Left Bank, and Saturday at Lower Cuba Street from 5pm. Lots of food stalls and entertainment. For more information, visit Wellington Night Market.
Wilton’s Bush is part of the Otari Native Botanic Garden, a public botanic garden dedicated to native New Zealand plants. Highlights include the 800 year old rimu, the treetop walkway by the visitor centre, the rock-garden, and the BBQs at the Troup Picnic Arena. One neat walk is from Wilton’s bush up to the Karori Cemetery. And the wooden walkway from the visitors centre is a great spot for crawlers and toddlers to explore. More information here: Wilton’s Bush.
Take a free, guided tour of Parliament. The tours start at the Visitor Centre in the foyer of the Beehive (Executive Wing) on the hour, beginning at 10am and last tour at 4pm weekdays, 10am -3pm on Saturdays and 11am – 3pm Sundays. The tours visit key parts of Parliament’s buildings, describe our parliamentary processes and include information about the architecture of the buildings and some of the artworks. Click here for more information: Parliament.
City Boat & Bike Shed hires pedal boats during the summer. Click here for more details: pedal boats.
A great museum for kids. As well as the kinds of things you assume will be there (historical displays, features of major New Zealand events and the role of police in them), runs a “junior detectives” programme where the kids get to dress in uniform and role mysteries. Open Wednesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm. Free admission. Tours have a small charge. A the Royal New Zealand Police College campus, Papakowhai Road, Porirua: View Map
Walk in the bracing southerly, see the fur seals, skid on the stones on the beach: View Map
Reserve Bank Museum
Surprisingly interesting. Illustrates the history of the New Zealand economy as well as of the Reserve Bank itself. Includes interactive exhibits to explain the workings of our economy, plus memorabilia and rare notes and coins. Open 9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
Fergs shed 6, Queens Wharf.
Freyberg Pool 139 Oriental Parade.
HangDog adventure company in Lower Hutt with an indoor rock climbing wall. Unit #11 , 453 Hutt Rd.
Waitangi Park has two climbing walls alongside the skate park.
Wellington has heaps of good spots to take the kids with their scooters. Try these ones:
Evan’s Bay parade
Karori Park – has a fantastic flat path around the park.
Kilbirnie Rec Centre – the kids can scoot inside when the weather is bad. On the weekend they often have ramps out.
Petone foreshore – includes a lovely path on the west end that curls through flaxes.
Queens Wharf to Te Papa
Waitangi Park on market day – the skaters give up much of the park to little kids on scooters and bikes while the Sunday markets are on.
Westpac Stadium -just drive up the ramp to the gates – doesn’t work when there’s anything on of course!
Take the Civic Square Sculpture Trail through Civic Square or the Waterfront Sculpture Trail around the waterfront. Before you go, download and print tan “Art Explorer” guide from the City Gallery website, or pick them up from the i-SITE Visitor Centre or Wellington City Council both in Civic Square. They include maps and information about the sculptures. There is a specific Art Explorer for younger people. For a more ruggerd sculpture trail, travel the sculptures along Cobham drive (the road out to the airport) either on foot or on a bike. Wind Sculpture Walk. For a video of the needle and photos of the other wind sculptures, click here.
Silver Stream Railway is a working heritage railway. It is open to the public for rides most Sundays with a steam locomotive, plus diesel locomotive or railcar in service. Opening hours are 11am to 4pm. More information here: Silverstreamrail.
Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings, the Southern Cross open up their Guest Room to parents and little ones. This is a great space for parents, babies and kids – a large enclosed area with comfy couches and carpet to crawl around on. They have the wonderful Andrea on hand. She’ll help to keep babies and children happy while you relax. Between 10am-12pm they have a professional massage therapist. Enjoy a FREE 10 minute back, neck and shoulder massage while Andrea looks after your wee one. For more information, click here: thecross.
And on Saturdays andSunday from 10am-2pm, the Southern Cross has lots to entertain the kids with – craft tables , colouring competitions, face-painting, toys and kid-friendly staff. They recommend you phone to book a table. Phone: 04 384 908.
Wellington has summer pools in Thorndon, Khandallah, Eastborne and Wainuiomata. See our Swimming Pools page: Pools.
Taputeranga Marine Reserve Snorkel Trail
Taputeranga is the new marine reserve on the Wellington south coast and it’s great for sheltered snorkelling. You can see huge beds of kelp, but also sea horses, octopus and more. Click here for more information: link.
Te Papa’s standard displays are popular with children and have the benefits of lots of space and being virtually indestructible. There is something for everyone but the parts that children particularly seem to enjoy are the outdoor area accessible from the ground floor cafe (which includes a cave), Mountains to Sea with New Zealand animals and sea-life on the second floor, the giant squid (including the 3d movie near it), Te Marae and the red plane, the tin cow and corrogated iron car in the main display on the fourth floor.
Te Papa also has four “Discovery Centres” designed specifically for children with toys, exhibits and resources. Nature Space is on the 2nd floor with entry just by the giant squid exhibition and includes a dinosaur footprint, a giant whale heart replica that kids can crawl into and child-friendly microscopes. Te Huka ā Tai is the Maori culture discovery centre on the 4th floor between the marae and the meeting house exhibition. Inspiration station is an art and fun discovery centre on the 4th floor that includes an old-fashioned shop for kids to play in. PlaNet Pasifika has pacific drums, books and activities and is located on the 4th floor past the Golden Years exhibition.
Te Papa also has Storyplace, an activity based learning centre for children aged 12 months to 5 years. Programmes change every 8 weeks and each Storyplace session runs for 45 mins. Storyplace tickets have a small fee (buy your tickets at the Information Desk on Level 2). More information here: Storyplace.
On the 5th floor, head to the Art Gallery sales area to pick up your Art Detective bag. Good for the 5+, filled with loads of activities to help young kids learn about art.
Te Papa opens at 10am every day. If you are there before 10am you can always hit the cafe on the ground floor which has quite a bit for the kids to play with, or you can take them to the outside ground-floor area (go through the cafe towards the water). The outside area includes a cave with glow-worms which is always a hit in our family.
The Lanes 34 – 238 Wakefield Street
Strike 35 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua and 399 Hutt Road, Lower Hutt. Has bumpers and ramps for little children.
Bowlarama 52 Hall St Newtown. Has bumpers and ramps for little children.
Thompsons Horse Centre
7 Leonards Road, Upper Hutt. Offers lessons, all-weather activities, birthday parties, farm rides and tiny tot rides. Phone 526 4515. More information: Thompsons.
Part of the Kilbirnie Rec Centre is “Tinytown”, a preschool play space with heaps of ride-on toys and playhouses and a giant bouncy “castle” (currently a red bus). Great for cold or wet days when you would like some outside play inside! In the same building is a large concrete rink for scooting or riding. For opening hours and more information: Tinytown
Troll of Prince of Wales Park
Does he exist? Head to the Prince of Wales Park in Newtown and a walking track will take you to a bridge that announces ‘Property of Greggo the troll’. Perhaps your kids will see him, or maybe he hides under the bridge protecting it out of view?
Tuatara Gallery at Pataka
The Tuatara Gallery is a space especially for kids at Pataka in Porirua. It’s a fantastic resource: heaps for kids to look at and do. Check out the photos on our Facebook page. More information: Tuatara.
Just off the Charles Plimmer Park near the top of Mt Victoria is an old fashioned tyre swing: View Map
Wellington Writers Walk
Wellington has a series of “text sculptures” along the central waterfront that are huge concrete plaques with quotations about the city from poems or other prose. They are striking and make a for a good short trail. The plaques were established by the New Zealand Society of Authors. There’s a free booklet available from the i-SITE Visitor Centre and more information here: writers walk.
Creating art and spreading happiness by painting rocks to hide around Wellington (New Zealand) or wherever you may travel to. The goal is to encourage creativity, exploring and community. Join the Wellington Rocks community and have some fun! If you find an art rock, take a picture, share it on Wellington rocks and let them know if you’d like and either keep it or re-hide the rock.
The Wellington Zoo is small but fantastic fun. New attractions include a new baby chimpanzee and a baby marmoset, plus a new meer cat enclosure. See something at the Zoo hospital (the Nest) if you can. They have ceiling to floor glass and a monitor so that you can see what is going on, plus an intercom so that you can ask questions. And we also recommend the animal feedings. Check out what’s on for the day you are going: Zoo.
The West Wind Recreation Area in Makara is open from 9am – 6pm in the summer (1 October to March 31) and 9am to 4pm during winter (1 April to 31 July). It is closed during lambing season (1 August to 30 September). The park has mountain-biking tracks, walking tracks and access to one of the 62 wind turbines. There’s also a viewing platform in the form of the converted old Post Office building. More information here: WestWind.
Basically a shop but the Cave shows a “behind-the-scenes” dvd showing Weta workshop and lots of models from Lord of the Rings and other shows like the Wot Wots. Click here for more: Weta Cave.
You can also now book a tour for Thunderbirds Are Go to see the shooting stage and discover the genuine Weta Workshop props, models and miniatures behind the popular TV series on a tour guided by our experienced crew. For more information, visit Weta.
Wrights Hill Fortress and Recreation Reserve
The height of Wrights Hill allows it to be seen from the eastern suburbs, central city and western suburbs. There is little open ground, except for on top of the hill where a well-developed lookout is located, offering dramatic views. Wrights hill has picnic areas, an extensive track network for walking, and a shared walking and mountain biking connection to the Polhill/Hawkins Hill ridge and Makara Peak. Significant heritage features include the World War II gun emplacements and tunnels. These are looked after by the Wrights Hill Fortress Restoration Society. They have a number of public open days throughout the year. Located off Campbell Road in Karori. For more information, visit newzealand.com
Visit either just the park or the park and the indoor exhibition at Zealandia (which used to be called the Karori Wildlife Sanctury). The indoor exhibition is interactive and state-of-the-art. The park is surrounded by a predator-proof fence. You are likely to spot a great range of New Zealand birds and insects, and in summer also Tuatara. Why not take a boat ride to the Takahe reserve and watch them pick at your lunch (a change from the seagulls!) Click here for more: Zealandia.