18 of the best things to do in Wellington with kids

If you’re looking for the most entertaining things to do in Wellington with kids, you’re in the right place!

The bustling city of Wellington is located at the bottom of the North Island. It is sometimes considered the gateway to the South Island and is the capital of the country.

With a great arts scene, lots of dining options, and a huge variety of attractions, this city has so much to offer.

It’s not just a place to be enjoyed by more mature tastes though. You’ll also find plenty of things to do in Wellington with kids which is always a saving grace when you’re travelling as a family.

From the city’s zoo to the iconic cable car, you won’t be short of activities that you can enjoy together.

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The Top Things to Do in Wellington with Ki

We know that travelling with children can be difficult at times but it’s always worth it once you see the look of excitement on their faces. You’ll also get to spend plenty of quality time together, and this city is one of the best places for it.

So, let’s take a look at the best things to do in Wellington with little ones…

1. Head to Wellington Zoo

The zoo should be first on your list of things to do in Wellington with kids!

Wellington Zoo is home to over 500 endangered animals, both native and exotic, so your child may get to spot an animal that they’ve never seen before.

Although there are plenty of species at the zoo, the highlights for many people often include the chimpanzees, giraffes, meerkats, and penguins. Wellington Zoo is also home to lots of big cats including cheetahs, lions, and tigers.

During your time there, you’ll get to listen to daily talks from the keepers, watch animal feedings, and grab a souvenir from the shop. You can also rest assured that by supporting their work, you are assisting in their conservation efforts.

Another great reason to visit – children under three can visit free!

200 Daniell Street, Newtown, Wellington 6021

A red panda.

2. Wander Around Waitangi Park

If your little ones are full of energy and need to let off some steam then make sure you head to Waitangi Park.

Covering an area of 6 hectares, there’s plenty of space for them to have a runaround or a kickabout with a ball.

Not only that, but Waitangi Park is home to a skate park, a children’s playground, and a recreated wetland area. There, your kids will be able to look out for critters and play a game of hide and seek.

The park is also located on the waterfront, so you can enjoy spectacular views whilst they play. This is a real winner if you need some downtime.

Herd Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

The green park of Waitangi, surrounded by buildings.
Photo credit: Wellington.

3. Test Your Kids at Escape Mate

There’s no shortage of things to do in Wellington with kids, but we highly recommend checking out Escape Mate, particularly if you’ve got older kids in tow.

They offer three different types of escape rooms, and each one is suitable for all ages making them perfect for families. Pick from Atlantis, Ancient Temple, or Spaceship.

You essentially have to solve a number of riddles and clues, to escape a locked room. But, you’ve only got a limited amount of time to do so.

Whether you’re looking to discover the lost city, investigate an alien spaceship, or save the world from gods, there’s a problem solving, team building challenge for everyone.

12 Johnston Street, Wellington Central, Wellington 6011

A guy touching an artefact that serves as a clue in Escape Mate.

4. Head to the Space Place at Carter Observatory

With interactive galleries, multimedia exhibits and telescope viewings, the Space Place at Carter Observatory has so much to offer!

However, the most significant highlight of the observatory has to be its planetarium show. During the course of this amaing show, you’ll get to learn all about other galaxies, planets, stars, and constellations. All while sitting back and relaxing in a comfy chair.

These shows are tailored for different ages, so no matter your child’s age they’ll get to enjoy this experience.

As one of the best family-friendly activities in Wellington, don’t leave it off your list.

40 Salamanca Road, Kelburn, Wellington 6012

A family watching the planetarium show while sitting in a comfy chair in Space Place Carter Observatory.
Photo: Space Place.

5. Hit the Beach

After spending days exploring, sometimes there’s nothing better to do than head to a beach and simply relax.

Luckily, kids love the beach and they’ll be thoroughly occupied whilst you have some ‘me time’.

The beach is also the perfect place for a family game of cricket or a dip in the ocean. Make sure you don’t forget your bucket and spade either!

There are plenty of beaches in and around the city including Lyall Bay, Oriental Bay and Scorching Bay.

However, if you don’t mind taking a trip out of the city, we recommend heading to Mākara Beach where you’ll also get to spot seals if you’re lucky. Even without seals, there’s farmland and old gun emplacements to help keep the whānau busy.

Pro Tip: If you’re from out of town and want a bucket and spade, you’ll find plenty of $2 discount stores in Wellington. Kmart and The Warehouse are also great budget-friendly places to pick a set up.

A beach with a few people in front of tall buildings in Orient Bay.
Oriental Bay. Photo credit: russellstreet.

6. Learn About Local Wildlife at Island Bay Marine Education Centre

If your children are a fan of wildlife, then make sure you head to Island Bay Marine Education Centre.

The centre is just a 15-20 minute drive out of Wellington, offering the chance for children to learn all about New Zealand’s marine life.

The centre is made up of Octopus HQ and the Bait House Aquarium (which is where you’ll be visiting if you’re heading there on a day trip).

This aquarium is home to a variety of marine species, many of which were donated by local fishermen.

Just keep in mind that this centre is only open on Sundays so you’ll have to time your visit perfectly!

On the seaside: 213 The Esplanade, Island Bay, Wellington 6023

Tourists flocking in Bait House.

7. Visit the Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa Tongarewa*

Wellington is home to the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.

Te Papa Tongarewa translates to ‘Container of Treasures’ and with six floors full of fantastic exhibits, the name is entirely suitable. This is undoubtedly one of the best museums in the country.

More commonly known as Te Papa, it has a number of popular family-friendly exhibitions, including the Discovery Centres. There you’ll find PlaNet Pasifika and Te Huka ā Tai (focused on Māori culture) on Level 4. Te Taiao (Nature) which includes the ever-popular Quake House, and Art Studio, a child-friendly art studio, are also popular with little ones.

Entry is free, and affordable guided tours are available as an optional add-on, though most families will have fun exploring at their own pace.

Don’t miss it when you’re next in the capital!

55 Cable Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Contemporary exhibits in Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum.
Te Papa’s unique and beautiful contemporary marae, Rongomaraeroa, belongs to all New Zealanders.

8. Catch a Movie at the Embassy Cinema

What kid doesn’t enjoy catching a movie every now and again?

We love Embassy Cinema as it’s dropping in history – incredibly, the building was opened in 1924! It’s been renovated nicely though and now offers three big screens, 3D technology, and a state-of-the-art sound system. The main theatre can seat up to 750 people, so as you can imagine it can get pretty busy during new releases.

No matter which film you decide to watch, make sure you grab some popcorn and a drink for the experience.

This is a particularly good Wellington activitiy if the weather outside isn’t playing ball – or if you’re just looking for an excuse to relax for a couple of hours.

10 Kent Terrace, Mount Victoria, Wellington 6011

The Embassy Cinema located in a corner-street while people pass by.
Photo credit: Jexiqua.

9. Go Ten Pin Bowling (and More)

Everyone loves ten pin bowling; it’s the perfect family-friendly activity (and another great option for wild and windy Welly days).

In Wellington, you’ve got two main options for bowling; The Lanes or Strike Entertainment Centre.

The Lanes offers bowling (of course), but there’s also a full bar and food menu, pool tables, and an arcade area. There, you’ll find popular games including pinball, air hockey, and foosball!

It’s a classy joint that turns adults only from 9pm, but prior to that, the little ones are more than welcome.

Strike Entertainment Centre is another option where you’ll have plenty of food and drink options, and a small arcade area. They also offer laser tag! This one’s a real hit with kids and teens, so expect a lively experience when visiting.

Either one is a fantastic choice, with advance bookings recommended.

The Lanes: 234/238 Wakefield Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Strike Entertainment Centre: 399 Hutt Road, Alicetown, Wellington 5012

Sets of bowling bowls.
Photo credit: Daniilr.

10. Take a Trip Out to Staglands Wildlife Reserve

Staglands Wildlife Reserve is a bit further out from the city. It’s about an hour’s drive, however, we think it’s totally worth making the trip.

There, your little ones will have the chance to feed and interact with plenty of animals. Some of the wildlife found there include deer, kune kune pigs, and Arapawa Island goats. This reserve is also home to a variety of native birdlife including the kea, the whio, and the pāteke.

During your time at the reserve, you can buy animal food and feed the animals, join the lunchtime feed tour, and head out on a free tractor ride.

It’s the perfect destination for a day trip as this place has so much to offer – particularly for preschoolers.

2362 Akatarawa Road, Akatarawa Valley, Upper Hutt 5372

Two kids feeding a small pig in Staglands Wildlife Reserve.
Photo credit: Staglands.

11. Ride The Wellington Cable Car

No trip to the city is complete without heading up to Kelburn Lookout on the Wellington Cable Car.

It opened in 1902 so has quite the history and is currently the only remaining funicular railway in New Zealand.

Little ones will love the journey itself while parents are likely to appreciate the areas stunning views.

Cars depart every 10 minutes from Lambton Quay, so it’s easy to fit a ride in amongst your other plans. Shuttle buses also run from the top of the cable car to Zealandia (which is next on the list), so why not continue your family-friendly adventure there?

280 Lambton Quay, Wellington Central, Wellington 6011

Red tram moving upwards with the view of Wellington.
Photo credit: WellingtonNZ.

12. Soak Up the Wildlife and Nature at Zealandia

Located in Central Wellington, Zealandia is an eco-sanctuary that’s home to over 40 native species.

You can explore Zealandia’s lush forest at your own pace, whilst having your kids look out for rare species including the little spotted kiwi (nocturnal birds), takahē, tuatara, and the Wellington green gecko.

If you’d prefer a guided tour, there are two options available to you. You can either join a 45-minute tour of Zealandia during the day or book a night tour (2.5 hours long) which will give you a good chance of spotting kiwi and glow worms (perfect for slightly older kids)

As we mentioned, there’s even a free shuttle that runs to Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary from the top of the cable car, so it’s easily accessible.

53 Waiapu Road, Karori, Wellington 6012

The native bird Kaka.
A beautiful native kākā at Zelandia. Photo credit: Jeff McEwan – Capture Studios.

13. Head to the Duck Pond and Playground at the Botanic Gardens

Wellington Botanic Gardens covers an impressive area of 25 hectares so as you can imagine there’s lots to see there.

With an on-site playground, a sculpture walk, and a variety of themed gardens, there are plenty of things to keep the kids entertained.

We particularly like the duck pond which is a favourite with the little ones!

There’s a trail that will take you around the outside of the pond. Plus you can even buy duck food to feed them. Just make sure you don’t feed them bread or any human food to ensure they stay happy and healthy.

101 Glenmore Street, Kelburn, Wellington 6012

Kid's playground in Botanic Gardens.
Photo credit: Pear285.

14. Splash Around at H20 Xtream

Whether you’re looking for another rainy-day activity, or just have kids looking to let off steam, make sure you head to H20 Xtream!

We think it’s one of the best things to do in Wellington with your kids as it offers so much.

With a toddler pool, a wave pool and several hydro slides, it’s a perfect option if you’re looking for a day filled with fun. There’s also a lazy river ride, water fountains, dump buckets, and plenty of other facilities here too.

What more could you want?

830-834 Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt Central, Upper Hutt 5018

A slide and swimming pools in an indoor water park in H20-Xtream.

15. Take a Trip out to Adrenalin Forest

If your children are over the height of 1.40m then we recommend taking a trip out to Adrenalin Forest.

It’s just a 20-minute drive from the city centre and offers a three-hour rope course. This rope course takes place in the tree canopy and consists of rope bridges, platforms, and Tarzan swings.

There are also flying foxes that will take you from platform to platform, so be prepared for an adventure.

We love that the courses get progressively more challenging, providing the right level of difficulty for everyone in your whānau.

Although this activity may not be suitable for those with a fear of heights, it’s the perfect activity for active, adventurous families – particularly those with preteens and teens.

Okowai Road, Aotea, Porirua 5022

A young kid crossing across trees using rounded wooden planks attached to the ropes in Adenalin Forest.

16. Head to Wētā Workshop

Wētā Workshop is just a 15-minute drive from the city centre and is a must-visit for kids that love movies!

There, they’ll learn about how movie effects are made, costumes, make-up and so much more.

During your tour of Wētā Workshop, you’ll get to see props and vehicles created for a tonne of popular films including King Kong, The Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

If hands-on is more your family’s style, they have an option for you to really get involved too.

Cnr Camperdown Road & Weka Street, Miramar, Wellington 6022

Young kid roaring at a troll sculpture while his mom is holding him at Weta Workshop.

17. Visit the Bucket Statue on Cuba Street

One of the best-known and most popular streets in the city, Cuba Street is a local icon. With something for everyone, there’s always something going on there!

Snap some cute family photos on the the rainbow crossing, enjoy the street art or grab a snack.

The bucket statue is our favourite local attraction though. It’s always a hit with kids – particularly in the summertime.

No visit to Wellington is complete without stopping by Cuba Street.

Te Aro, Wellington 6011

Children and their mom watching the bucket fountain.
Photo credit: Sally.

18. Visit City Gallery Wellington

Lucky last on our list of the best things to do in Wellington with kids is a visit to City Gallery Wellington.

Though this art gallery is a hit with adults, they also cater well to littlies.

The gallery spaces are buggy-friendly, and lifts are available to make accessing them even easier. Alternatively, they’ll happily look after your stroller at the font desk if you’d rather not take it insude.

The Reading Room is located upstairs too, providing a quiet space for everyone to relax and dig into a good book.

Next time you’re in town, pop along and share some of Aotearoa’s beautiful art with your whānau.

Te Ngākau Civic Square, Wellington 6011

Kids entertained the entrance of City Gallery Wellington.

As you can see there are tonnes of things to do in Wellington with kids!

Whether your child prefers having a splash about in the pool or exploring a zoo, there are options for everyone.

Have you ever been to Wellington?

If you have, what are your favourite things to do as a family and why?

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