On the south-east side of Wellington, you’ll find Breaker Bay Beach, the only clothing-optional beach in the city. The far end of the beach is a popular gay cruising area.
The Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa as it’s more commonly known) is internationally renowned for its interdisciplinary and interactive exhibitions. The innovative and bicultural museum focuses on five areas: Art, History, Pacific Culture, Maori Culture, and the Natural Environment. The fun and informative museum is free to visit.
Sometimes called Wellington’s most beautiful street, Oriental Parade is a lovely Oceanside strip and a favorite neighborhood for shopping, dining, and recreation. In the summer, the Parade is packed with Wellingtonians hoping to beat the heat and relax in the sunshine. Dedicated walking and cycling paths along the beach, and the public swimming pool, hot tub, and climbing wall at the Freyburg make the area a great place to play.
Ready for a hike? Take the Number 1 bus to Island Bay and walk west along the ocean until you run out of road. This disused quarry is now a pleasant rocky beach – the red rocks give this walk its name. After an hour of walking, you’ll come to a rock face with a clear pass. Through here is a large wild seal colony. Don’t get too close – they are wild animals, after all, and they will defend against perceived threats to their territory. But it’s worth a walk to see these majestic and playful mammals in their natural habitat.
The Cable Car has become a defining Wellington Experience and with good reason. The trip from Lambton Quay through Kelburn Park and Victoria University is beautifully scenic. Your ride ends at the top of Upland Road at the Lookout, which has a lovely panoramic view across the Botanic Gardens, the city’s central core, and the harbor. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic in the Botanic Gardens. Also up here is the Carter Observatory and Planetarium and the Cable Car Museum. You can take the cable car back into the city or enjoy an easy and pretty walk through the Gardens and the cemetery to the Parliament buildings.
Much more than a zoo, the Zealandia Karori Wildlife Sanctuary is a spectacular nature preserve just a short trip from the center of the city. The sanctuary is a completely fenced-in, predator-proof preserve in the hills of Wellington’s suburbs. The sanctuary calls itself a ‘living ark,’ where rare and endangered indigenous flora and fauna are being reintroduced to the Wellington area. It’s now home to dozens of reptiles and amphibians, 30 kinds of local birds, and hundreds of plant species and thousands of invertebrates. A must for nature lovers.