Self Drive Wellington | Avis Car Rental

Wellington Self Drive Holiday

New Zealand's capital city is a cultural and arts centre that boasts an attractive waterfront and cosmopolitan dining scene. Home to Parliament and many Government Ministries, the city is a busy, active, easily navigated destination with an array of wonderful cafes, shops, theatres and restaurants. There are also a series of great drives to destinations outside the city centre, such as up the coast to Kapiti Island or southeast to hidden gem Cape Palliser.




      Café Culture

Wellington is one of the great drivers of the New Zealand coffee revolution. Cafés there have helped to start, grow and export the particularly Kiwi café culture to the world. Walk down Cuba St and visit one of the venerable favourites - like Fidel's, and be sure to visit Pravda - off Lambton Quay where hundreds of office-workers conduct coffee meetings at any given time. A tip for overseas visitors: the local staple is the flat white - one part espresso to two parts stretched milk. Ask for a latte in a glass and they'll think you're a local!


Wellington Cable Car

Wellington has a compact city centre, with adequate parking at roadside parking meters and in a range of parking buildings. It is a good idea to park up and enjoy the pedestrian centre. To get a fun feel for the city try the Cable Cars. They give you a great vantage - and are one way to best the steep-ish hills that have helped keep Wellington so compact.

Cable Car Website



Wellington is home to Parliament. You can visit the seat of New Zealand Government - and go on a free guided-tour. The Beehive, the name given to this most prominent of landmarks, is actually more of an administrative building than the chambers, where the Parliamentary debating occurs. When the House is sitting you are welcome to attend and sit in the public gallery to watch democracy in action. It isn't always very nice to look at, but you have to be - a tidy dress standard is strictly enforced. There is ample metered parking on side streets, or it is a short stroll from the CBD.

NZ Parliament Website


Te Papa - the National Museum

Te Papa - 'Our Place' - is the Museum of New Zealand. In Maori the museum's full name is 'Te Papa Tongarewa', meaning Container of Treasures - a fitting name for an institution that houses some of the greatest cultural artifacts, significant artworks and stories of the country. Te Papa prides itself on an innovative and interactive exhibit style and visitors will find an unexpected and entertaining experience awaits. Te Papa is located on the Waterfront, and plentiful and reasonably priced parking is available.

Te Papa Website


Waterfront Writers Walk

The Waterfront is a jewel for Wellington. There is a saying there that you can't beat Wellington on a good day - and they are right. When the sun reflects off the water and the city-dwellers are strolling along the promenade beside the exhibits in the Waterfront Writer's Walk, Wellington in one of the loveliest little cities in the world. This walk makes firm the capital's love for the arts and shared culture quite literally: the poems are set in concrete along the walkway. Stroll along and see the work of eleven writers with a connection to the city.

Wellington Waterfront Website



Wellington City Market

City markets are a growing venture in New Zealand. From small beginnings you can now find offerings in all the major centres with farmers bringing produce to the urban dwellers. Wellington has a fine market made up of artisanal and specialty food producers. There are treats aplenty to try on site - and you can find all kinds of ingredients for the intrepid cook. Come early and enjoy the Waterfront with a coffee and pastry in hand, and gather fresh produce, cheeses and boutique meats to enjoy later.

City Market Website


Zealandia Nature Sanctuary

Just 10 minutes from Wellington you'll find this wonderful nature sanctuary. Enclosed by a pest-proof fence this is the best spot to find native birds, lizards and creepy crawlies. New Zealand does a great line in oversized razor-edged bugs - and in the birds that feed on them. This venture is helping to protect endangered species and reintroduce native creatures to the region. The help you are giving to those who protect and foster local flora and fauna is worthy of the entry fee alone. There is an impressive modern exhibition area as well as a 550ha sanctuary space that you can roam on your own or take a tour through.

Zealandia Website


Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo is proud to call itself the Best Little Zoo in the World. With a focus on creating interesting animal encounters and boasting a wide and well cared for array of animals, this zoo makes for a fun afternoon. You can get up close and personal with the likes of red pandas and cheetahs, and they even offer a way for you to smell a giraffe's breath! Located just 10 minutes south of the CBD, it is a quick drive but sometimes parking can be crowded. If so, head around the corner, park up a suburban street and walk back.

Wellington Zoo Website


City Gallery

Wellington has long been a centre for the dealer gallery, with veterans like Peter McLeavey and Hamish McKay being standouts always worth a visit. The City Gallery however is an exhibiting rather than a collecting gallery, and there are always new shows. Their energy goes to attracting and curating the best of local and international art and culture. Located in the Civic Square off Wakefield Street, it is worth noting that there may be charges for exhibitions.

City Gallery Website



The Cake Tin - Westpac Stadium

Wellington has an excellent stadium known to locals as the "Cake Tin", although officially it is Westpac Stadium. The local football team - or soccer side as Kiwis would say - are Phoenix FC. They have a committed fan base and any of their games are worth a visit. So too are those of the Hurricanes - the local Super Rugby franchise. The International Rugby Sevens are held here too, and if you are ever lucky enough to get tickets it is a carnival day with costumes and atmosphere aplenty. There are handy parking buildings, or you're just minutes from the middle of town by foot.

Westpac Stadium Website


Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island is a very special trip that requires a bit of planning. This recovery bird reserve has a strictly limited policy of only 50 visitors a day. It is easiest to book through one of the tour operators to make sure that you don't miss out. That would be a shame as there are few chances to see such an array of native birdlife or to hear their call in the natural environment. Little Brown Kiwi, Kokako, Weka, Kakariki, Brown Teal and Takahe are all to be found here - some of whom are found in very few other places at all.

Dept. of Conservation Website



Martinborough is a one-hour drive over the Rimutaka Mountain range. The climate and conditions are similar to the great French wine growing region of Burgundy - and for this reason many vineyards were started here in the 1980s. Their decision turned out to be well founded, with some of the best wine in the world now coming from their producers - especially in the Pinot Noir varietal. Martinborough is a beautiful town - specialising in lovely Bed and Breakfast establishments packed with English charm. Drive over, drop the car off at one and visit a few vineyards - or at the very least Martinborough, Ata Rangi and Te Kairangi. Stay the night and be fresh for a drive back in the morning.

Martinborough Website


Cape Palliser

Many people think that Wellington is the end of the North Island, but they'd be wrong. 50kms to the southeast of Wellington you'll find Cape Palliser - a site further south than Nelson in the South Island! There is an abundance of seals, a delightful lighthouse to climb and an often-overlooked drive into a forgotten corner of the country. This was a busy site in both the Maori and settler histories of New Zealand, and still a Crayfishing outpost today. This magic spot feels far more remote than it is - and will reward you for your journey.



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