Family friendly things to do in Wellington | Apollo NZ
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Wellington and the Wairarapa

Looking for great cafes, unique wildlife encounters, and boutique shopping? You’ll find it all and more in the Wellington and Wairarapa region. Wellington, the nation's capital, buzzes with an infectious energy, boasting an arts scene as vibrant as its famed coffee culture. Enjoy a relaxing breakfast overlooking Wellington’s beautiful harbour. Spend an afternoon meeting the wildlife at Wellington Zoo. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love sampling the tasty offerings at Wellington’s renowned cafes and eateries. 

Just a short drive away, the Wairarapa region unfolds with its charming townships, renowned wineries, and lush rural landscapes. Once you’ve ticked off your list of things to do in Wellington, hit the road and start exploring everything on offer in the Wairarapa. We’re talking wineries, cycle trails, artisan producers, and spectacular coastlines boasting unbeatable stargazing.  

No matter what time of year you’re planning your campervan holiday in New Zealand, Wellington and Wairarapa stand out as year-round destinations. In summer, Wellington's waterfront comes alive, perfect for sun-drenched strolls and alfresco dining, while the Wairarapa's golden beaches beckon for lazy afternoons and vibrant sunsets. Autumn transforms the landscape into a tapestry of reds and golds; it's the best time to meander through the Wairarapa's vineyards, savouring the region's renowned pinot noir amidst the fall foliage.


Why explore Wellington & Wairarapa by Campervan

There’s no better way to discover Wellington and Wairarapa than with an Apollo campervan. Be as spontaneous or structured as you like. Take your time, travel at your own pace, and truly immerse yourself in everything on offer in this special region. With your own kitchen, bed, and bathroom onboard, travel by Apollo campervan is all about freedom and comfort. A road trip through Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan is all about the freedom to go where you want when you want. With a campervan, your plans are as flexible as your mood, allowing you to soak up moments that you'd miss if you were rushing to meet hotel or tour schedules.

Travelling by campervan isn't just about getting from A to B; it's about the experiences along the way. It's about impromptu picnics at breathtaking overlooks, morning coffees with views that beat any café, and nights spent under a blanket of stars. Fancy spending an extra day exploring a hidden gem you've stumbled upon? Go for it. Every turn in the road offers new possibilities, and with a campervan, you're in the driver's seat!

A campervan holiday in New Zealand, especially through areas like Wellington and the Wairarapa, is a journey into the heart of what makes this part of the world so special. And it's all yours to explore!


Things to do in Wellington & Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa are bursting at the seams with activities and sights, catering to every taste and interest. If you’re enjoying a family holiday, you’ll find plenty of great family-friendly things to do in Wellington that promise fun for all ages. And if you’re a foodie looking for a taste of something new, you’ll find no shortage of must-try food in Wellington. Venture into the Wairarapa, and you'll find a peaceful escape with wine tours, scenic hikes, and charming country towns waiting to be explored. 

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

Family friendly things to do in Wellington.

Thinking about booking a campervan hire to explore Wellington with the family? From captivating museums to scenic waterfront walks, New Zealand's capital city is a playground for families of all ages. In this handy guide, we'll share some of the best places to visit in Wellington that promise to make your New Zealand road trip unforgettable.

From indoor activities in Wellington for those unpredictable weather days, to outdoor adventures exploring the city's natural beauty, there's something for everyone. Whether you're travelling in a camper or motorhome and need a New Zealand itinerary that ticks all the boxes, Wellington's vibrant scene won't disappoint. Let's dive into the heart of this dynamic city and discover some of the best things to do in Wellington for families.


What’s Wellington known for?

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Wellington. Whether you’re a family of outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, or history and heritage lovers, you’ll find it all in Wellington. 

At the heart of Wellington's charm is its thriving arts scene. The city streets are a canvas for unique street art and its art galleries showcase the works of both emerging and established artists. Add in a diverse range of festivals and events, celebrating everything from film to food, and it’s easy to see why this city is often referred to as the ‘coolest little capital’.

Wellington is also a hub for history and knowledge with a selection of world-class museums. And of course, no mention of Wellington is complete without highlighting its lively culinary and coffee culture. 

The city's unique geography, nestled between hills and the sea, provides loads of awesome opportunities for outdoor adventures. From scenic walks along the waterfront to panoramic views from the top of Mount Victoria, Wellington's natural landscapes are a constant source of awe and inspiration.


The best way to explore Wellington

Exploring Wellington in an Apollo campervan offers families the perfect blend of flexibility, comfort, and adventure. With the freedom to design your own travel itinerary, a campervan trip means you can explore Wellington's attractions at your own pace, from the buzzing city streets to the quiet seclusion of the coastline. 

It's a cost-effective solution too, combining transport and accommodation in one, and providing the convenience of a home on wheels for meals and breaks. This makes it ideal for families looking to balance the excitement of a New Zealand road trip with the comforts of home. Whether it's waking up to stunning harbour views or enjoying a sunset dinner by the beach, a campervan hire turns every moment of your Wellington journey into a memorable experience.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Family friendly things to do in Wellington

Here are a few unmissable Wellington attractions worth adding to your travel itinerary:


1. Get up close with wildlife at Staglands Wildlife Reserve

For families exploring Wellington in a campervan, a visit to Staglands Wildlife Reserve is a must-do. Nestled in the Akatarawa Valley, about an hour's drive from the central city, this hidden gem is easily accessible, offering a scenic route that is as enjoyable as the destination itself. 

Staglands Wildlife Reserve is a haven for native New Zealand wildlife and offers a unique, hands-on experience for all ages. Here, you can get up close with a variety of animals, including friendly farm animals and native birds. The opportunity to feed deer and interact with the animals makes it a truly engaging experience for children.


2. Spot seals at Red Rocks

A visit to Red Rocks on Wellington's rugged south coast is a highlight for families travelling in a campervan. Located just a short drive from the city centre, this area offers a unique wildlife encounter and a great day out. The journey to Red Rocks itself is part of the adventure, with the route offering picturesque coastal views that are quintessentially part of a New Zealand road trip. 

Red Rocks is an area of national significance with its large seal colony. Here, you can witness seals basking on the rocky shores, especially during the winter months. The sight of these marine mammals in their natural habitat is a truly captivating experience. For families keen to explore the area further, the 7.4 km coastal trail is a great option.


3. Watch the sunrise at Mount Victoria

Witnessing the sunrise from Mount Victoria is a magical experience for any family visiting Wellington. This iconic landmark, just a few minutes drive from the heart of the city, is the perfect spot to greet the day. 

The panoramic view is not only breathtaking but also provides a unique way to see Wellington from above. The gentle hike to the summit is family-friendly and a great way for everyone to engage with nature. 


4. See glowworms at the Botanic Gardens

A visit to the Wellington Botanic Gardens offers more than just a walk among beautifully curated plant collections. For families on a New Zealand road trip, an evening visit to this enchanting place can lead to a magical encounter with glowworms. Tucked away in the natural beauty of the gardens, these luminescent creatures offer a delightful surprise as night falls. 

For the best experience, take a guided glowworm tour. These are available throughout the year, although the best time to spot glowworms is during spring after rainfall. 


5. Have fun at Capital E

For families looking for fun and creative children’s activities in Wellington, Capital E is a must-visit destination. Located in the heart of the city at Queens Wharf, this unique spot is dedicated to sparking the imagination of children through interactive experiences and creative play. 

Capital E offers a wide range of activities that cater to children of all ages. Kids can explore digital workshops and delve into the world of multimedia and technology. There are also fantastic performance spaces where they can express themselves through drama, music, and dance. 


6. Wander around Wellington Zoo

A visit to the zoo is one of the most popular things to do in Wellington for families. As New Zealand's first zoo, it's not only rich in history but also in its commitment to conservation and animal care. A visit here is both educational and entertaining, making it a perfect stop on your travel itinerary. 

The zoo spans over 32 acres and is home to a diverse range of animals from around the globe. As you wander through the different zones, you'll encounter everything from majestic lions and playful meerkats to native New Zealand species like the kiwi. One of the highlights of Wellington Zoo is its interactive encounters. These up-close experiences with animals are not only thrilling for children but also offer valuable learning opportunities. The zoo also offers a range of family friendly facilities with plenty of picnic areas, a playground, and cafes. 


7. Unlock movie magic at Wētā Workshop

For families with a love for the magic of movies, Wētā Workshop is an unmissable destination. Renowned globally for its special effects and prop production, Wētā Workshop offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of movie magic, right in the heart of New Zealand's film industry. 

Wētā is famed for its work on blockbuster films like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar, and a visit here reveals the artistry and innovation behind these cinematic masterpieces. The guided tours provide an insider's look at the creation of movie props, costumes, and creatures, showcasing the incredible skill and creativity of the Wētā team.


8. Experience Zealandia

Just minutes from downtown Wellington, Zealandia is an extraordinary eco-sanctuary dedicated to the restoration of New Zealand's native flora and fauna. As you explore the sanctuary, you'll be enveloped in a prehistoric New Zealand landscape. 

A haven where rare native birds like the kākā and takahē roam freely. The lush, green surroundings are a perfect backdrop for a family adventure, with well-maintained tracks and walkways making it accessible for all ages. 


9. Take a tour of the Wellington Chocolate Factory

For a sweet addition to your Wellington itinerary, the Wellington Chocolate Factory will have your mouth watering. Located on Eva Street in the heart of the city, this artisan chocolate factory is not just a treat for the taste buds but also a fascinating journey into the world of chocolate making. 

As you step inside, the rich aroma of chocolate envelops you, setting the stage for an immersive tour. The factory is known for its commitment to quality and sustainability, using organic, ethically sourced ingredients to create its range of delicious chocolates. 

Image: Tourism New Zealand


10. Learn something new at Te Papa

New Zealand's innovative and interactive national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa is a cornerstone of Wellington's cultural landscape. Located on Cable Street, this museum is a treasure trove of knowledge and experiences, making it a fascinating stop for families exploring Wellington. The exhibitions cover a wide array of topics, from the astonishing dinosaurs of Patagonia to the vibrant stories of Pacific people in New Zealand. 

One of its most notable exhibitions, Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War, provides a deeply moving insight into the World War I campaign through the eyes of New Zealanders who were there. The museum is designed to be hands-on, encouraging visitors to engage with the exhibits actively. This makes it an ideal place for children to learn and explore, sparking their curiosity and providing a fun, educational experience. 


11. Swim at Oriental Bay

Oriental Bay, Wellington's own slice of beachside bliss, is a must-visit for families looking to enjoy some fun in the sun. This picturesque bay, with its golden sand and clear blue waters, is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Located just a stone's throw from the city centre, it's the perfect spot for families travelling in a campervan to take a refreshing break from their New Zealand road trip.

The beach is ideal for swimming, with its calm waters providing a safe environment for children to splash around and play. The bay also offers other water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding, making it a great place for families to try something new together.


12. Stargaze at Space Place

Offering a captivating journey through the stars, Space Place at Carter Observatory is a stellar addition to any family's Wellington itinerary. Located in the Wellington Botanic Gardens, this state-of-the-art planetarium is a gateway to the wonders of the cosmos. The digital, full-dome planetarium screen showcases a range of shows suitable for all ages, featuring breathtaking images of planets, stars, and galaxies.

Learn about Māori star lore, the historic Apollo missions, and experience what it feels like to be inside a spaceship in the Tūhura Space Module. The Matariki theatre offers insights into how Māori navigated the vast Pacific Ocean using the stars and the importance of Matariki, the astronomical event which marks the Māori New Year. On clear nights, telescope viewings allow you to roam the spectacular southern skies. It’s stargazing at its finest, offering an awe-inspiring look at the universe beyond our planet. 


13. Play at Waitangi Park

A vibrant and spacious public park in Wellington, Waitangi Park is a fantastic spot for families to unwind and play. Located nice and close to the city's waterfront, this six-hectare park features a modern playground that's a hit with children. With innovative play equipment, including swings, slides, and climbing structures, it provides a safe and fun environment for kids to explore and enjoy. 

The open green spaces are perfect for picnics, games, or simply relaxing under the sun. The park also includes a wetland area that serves as an urban oasis, as well as a well-designed skate park. 


14. Catch the ferry to Eastbourne

For a change of pace during your Wellington motorhome holiday, consider catching the ferry to Eastbourne. This charming seaside suburb offers a tranquil escape from the city's hustle and bustle. To start your adventure, park your campervan at one of the convenient parking areas near the Wellington waterfront. The ferry terminal is located centrally along the waterfront, making it a hassle-free experience for families.

Eastbourne is a haven for relaxation and outdoor activities. Stroll along the beach, explore local shops and cafes, or take a leisurely walk in the nearby bush-clad hills. Days Bay, in particular, is a popular spot with a lovely beach, perfect for a family picnic or a swim in the sea. Nearby Williams Park is another great spot for families, with ample green space and a playground for children. 


Ready to explore Wellington?

With so many great things to do in Wellington, it really is the perfect destination for a family campervan holiday. Don’t put it off any longer, book your Apollo campervan online today and get ready to explore the coolest little capital.

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Popular Wellington & Wairarapa road trips & itineraries

Positioned at the southern end of New Zealand's North Island, Wellington and the Wairarapa region are perfectly placed for unforgettable road trips. Starting from Wellington, you can easily navigate your way through the scenic routes that lead to the Wairarapa, where vineyards, coastlines, and quaint towns await. Whether you're coming from the North Island's urban centres or making the crossing from the South Island, these regions offer fantastic campervan road trip experiences with a variety of itineraries to suit every traveller’s taste. Here are a few worth checking out:

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Thinking of hitting the top of the South Island on a campervan road trip? Great idea! From the lively vibe of Christchurch to the stunning beauty...

Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure. 

Apollo Campervan branches


The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Wellington takes you along some of the South Island’s most scenic coastline. There’s a fair bit to see and do along the way, so be sure to take your time and perhaps plan an overnight stay in Kaikoura. This journey includes crossing the Cook Strait by ferry.


Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore more of the South Island? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and spend a few days heading northward, including crossing the Cook Strait by ferry. You may even like to plan an epic road trip and continue on to Auckland. You can arrange to drop off your camper at any of our three branches. 


The North Island is packed full of sights and experiences, so why not tick off a few with a road trip from Apollo Auckland to Wellington? The beauty of a campervan trip is that you can stop when you need to, change your route, or take a detour if you spot a signpost pointing to something you’d like to see. 

Auckland City Skyline


New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.


Christchurch City, New Zealand


 One of the world’s most unique destinations.



Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.


Helpful tips for visiting Wellington & Wairarapa


Climate and seasons in Wellington & The Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa showcase New Zealand's dynamic climate, offering a spectrum of seasonal experiences.

Wellington, known for as the ‘windy city’, presents a temperate maritime climate.

  • Summers (December to February) are pleasant with temperatures averaging around 19°C to 21°C, ideal for beach visits and outdoor cafes.
  • Autumn (March to May) brings cooler, calm days, perfect for exploring the city's vibrant arts scene.
  • Winter (June to August) sees temperatures drop to 6°C – 12°C, a time when the region's cultural events come to the forefront.
  • Spring (September to November) revitalises the city with mild temperatures and blooming gardens.

The Wairarapa, while sharing Wellington's temperate traits, often enjoys more pronounced seasonal contrasts, especially in the more rural areas. Expect crisp, frosty mornings in winter, transitioning to warm, dry summers ideal for vineyard tours. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, though June and July can be wetter, making the lush landscapes even more vivid.





What to pack

An adventure through Wellington and the Wairarapa in your campervan calls for thoughtful packing. Given the varied climates and the awesome variety of outdoor activities available, ensuring you have the right gear can make all the difference. From essential outdoor apparel to campervan must-haves and sun protection, here's what you should consider packing.

  • Outdoor gear: The great outdoors of Wellington and the Wairarapa invite exploration, so outdoor gear is important. Pack layers to adapt to the changing weather – think breathable fabrics for warm days and insulated, waterproof options for cooler, wetter conditions. Sturdy walking shoes are a must for those planning to tread the numerous trails or wander the vibrant city streets.
  • Campervan add-ons: To make the most of your campervan experience, consider packing some add-ons. A portable barbecue can elevate your dining under the stars, while extra camping chairs and a table (these can be added to your campervan hire) can make your outdoor setup more comfortable.
  • Sun protection: New Zealand's sun can be surprisingly intense, so ample sun protection is essential. A broad-spectrum sunscreen, UV-protected sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat should be on your packing list. For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.


Nearby attractions and day trips from Wellington

Paekakariki & The Escarpment Track

Just a short drive from Wellington, Paekakariki serves as the gateway to The Escarpment Track, one of the region's most exhilarating walks. This trail offers stunning views of the Kāpiti Coast and the Tasman Sea, making it a favourite among hikers. The track's challenging stair sections and swing bridges add to the adventure, providing a rewarding experience with panoramic vistas at every turn.

Kāpiti Coast & Kāpiti Island

The Kāpiti Coast, with its beautiful beaches and quaint towns, is perfect for a leisurely day trip. For a unique adventure, take a boat to Kāpiti Island, a nature reserve that's home to some of New Zealand's most rare and endangered birds. The island's rich history and conservation efforts, combined with its natural beauty, make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Somes Island

Located in the middle of Wellington Harbour, Somes Island (Matiu) offers a peaceful escape with a rich history. Accessible by ferry, this predator-free scientific reserve boasts a unique blend of natural and historical attractions, including well-preserved WWII-era relics. It's an ideal spot for picnics, short walks, and wildlife spotting, especially for those interested in conservation and history.

Days Bay and the Remutakas

Days Bay, accessible by a scenic ferry ride from Wellington, is known for its vibrant arts scene, cafes, and swimming beach, making it a popular spot for relaxation and recreation. For the more adventurous, a drive through the Remutaka Ranges offers breathtaking views and access to a network of trails in the Remutaka Forest Park, perfect for hiking and biking enthusiasts.



Nearby attractions and day trips in the Wairarapa

Castle Point Lighthouse

Perched on a scenic clifftop, Castle Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of beauty in the Wairarapa region. This historic lighthouse, accessible via a short, scenic walk, offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean. It's an ideal spot for photography, wildlife watching, and soaking in the serene beauty of one of New Zealand's most picturesque locations.

Pūtangirua Pinnacles and Cape Palliser

The Pūtangirua Pinnacles, with their eerie, towering rock formations, offer a landscape that feels like stepping onto another planet. These geological wonders, coupled with a visit to nearby Cape Palliser, where you can climb New Zealand's tallest lighthouse, make for an unforgettable day trip full of adventure and natural beauty.


Greytown is a charming Victorian country village known for its well-preserved heritage buildings, boutique shopping, and artisanal eateries. Strolling through the tree-lined streets, you'll find a delightful mix of antique stores, galleries, and cafes that exude a quaint, laid-back vibe. It's the perfect destination for those looking to unwind and indulge in the slower pace of rural New Zealand life.



Where to stay in Wellington & The Wairarapa with a campervan

Exploring Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan offers the ultimate freedom to discover New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and townships at your own pace. When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds that cater to every need. Here are a few worth adding to your travel itinerary:



For more great family friendly campsites and holiday parks, check out our guide to the best family friendly campgrounds near Wellington.

Top 15 things to do in Wellington Top 15 things to do in Wellington

Top 15 things to do in Wellington

In this helpful guide, we share 15 of the must-do Wellington activities worth adding to your travel itinerary.  But first …

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