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.
Battle Hill Farm Forest Park
Battle Hill Farm Forest Park is a Wellington Regional park located near Paekakariki, New Zealand. It contains the site of the Battle of Battle Hill and is intersected by Transmission Gully. A working farm, as well as options for camping and exploration. For more information, visit Battle Hill Farm Forest Park.
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: View Map.
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
The Space Place (formerly The 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: The Space Place. Or email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org and +64 4 910 3140.
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.
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.
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 Saturday & Public Holidays from 1:30pm – 4pm. View Map
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. For more information, visit Kaitoke Regional Park.
Fergs Kayaks hire out kayaks for the Wellington harbour. Shed Six, Queens Wharf.
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.
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.
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.
Mount Vic Lookout
360 views of the harbour and city. View Mount Victoria Lookout.
Nga Manu Nature Reserve
Nga Manu Nature Reserve offers you a unique opportunity to have a hands on experience related to the natural history of New Zealand. It’s located approx. 50 minutes drive north of Wellington. By visiting the Reserve you will gain an understanding of the ecosystems by using examples of plants and animals that can be observed within the different habitats that make up the Reserves ecosystems. The reserve offers you an opportunity to see a diverse range of our native flora and fauna in just one visit. Most visitors would spend approximately 1.5 hours at the reserve. All pathways are easily walked and there’s adequate seating around the reserve. Wheelchair access and facilities are avaliable. An on site wheelchair is available for visitor use.For more information, visit Nga Manu Nature Reserve
Pukaha Mt Bruce
Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre is a wildlife restoration centre at a protected forest area on State Highway 2 in New Zealand’s Tararua district. For more information, visit Pukaha Mt Bruce.
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.
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.
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.
Staglands Wildlife Reserve
Staglands Wildlife Reserve offers visitors the unique and exciting opportunity to connect with nature in a beautiful, natural environment. Feed and freely interact with the friendly & inquisitive wildlife in this very special place Located in the scenic Akatarawa Valley near Upper Hutt, Staglands is a real hidden gem in the Wellington region. If visiting in the summer pack a picnic and your togs as there are fantastic swimming holes and complimentary BBQ’s available. Visit their website for more information.
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+ age group, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Click here for more: Zealandia.