How to See Wellington on a Budget

Travelling anywhere can be expensive, between accommodation, meals, sightseeing, flights and purchasing gifts, it all adds up in the end. That’s why when you’re travelling anywhere, you should keep an eye out for free or inexpensive attractions. These can take many forms, from art galleries to museums, heritage-listed buildings, botanical gardens and free sightseeing opportunities. Most major cities in New Zealand have a number of free activities, saving you money to spend on more important things. Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is full of fun, free activities. Here are some of the best cost-saving measures you can take on a trip to Wellington.

The Beehive Building, New Zealand's Parliament Building.
Building tours

If you're interested in architecture, there are free building tours on offer at sites such as Parliament, famous for its beehive building. Government House and Old St Paul’s Cathedral also offer free entry for you to look around and marvel at the architecture.

Art and History museums

Start your trip to Wellington with a visit to the National Museum of New Zealand, or Te Papa, one of the finest museums in the world, covering science and natural history. Walkthrough six storeys of exhibitions, including a large collection of Māori artefacts. The museum mixes contemporary museum exhibits with an interactive, tech-driven mix. It's hard to pass up the opportunity to see this incredible collection, covering everything from dinosaurs to European paintings. Entry into the permanent exhibition space is free.

The museum is surrounded by other activities and sights, including Lambton Harbour, the City Gallery, the Gallery of Fine Art and is a short walk from Mount Victoria. City Gallery generally has free entry (except in cases of certain paid exhibitions), but there is still the main permanent gallery to see free of charge. City Gallery offers a dynamic program of local and foreign artworks. Other free galleries include The Dowse Art Museum and Pataka Art + Museum.

Pond at the Wellington Botanic Garden.
Gardens and parks

Make the most of the nice weather and head to the Wellington Botanic Garden, 25 hectares of specialised plant collections and curated landscape. Just a short walk north of the Museum of New Zealand. The gardens were established in 1844 and offer a unique collection of native and exotic flora and fauna. Some highlights include Begonia House, a glasshouse with tropical plants, a lily pond with aquatic flora and many more colourful flowers. Also on site is the Wellington Cable Car, a charming way to see a portion of the city at an affordable cost. The Cable Car Museum offers free general admission. See preserved cable cars and machinery and learn how Wellington’s most iconic transport evolved over time. Sit and enjoy the ducks at the main garden pond, with kibbled corn duck food at the pond and treehouse (please don’t feed ducks bread or other human food). 

Take in some of the more regional parks and forest parks that surround Wellington and the Bay, with ancient forests, stunning waterfalls and unforgettable walking trails on offer. Sites like Belmont Regional Park, East Harbour Regional Park and the Zealandia Te Mara a Range Wildlife Sanctuary are top of the list for scenic natural views.

Mount Victoria

If you want the best free view of the city and bay, look no further than Mount Victoria. The mountain offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding region. The area surrounding the mountain was also the site where they shot the Hobbit chase scene as Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin fled through the forest from the Nazgul in Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ films. There are many scenic walks on offer around the bay and south side of the city. 

The Weta Cave

For fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies (not to mention a slew of other films), the Weta Cave is a must-see experience. Entry into the cave, which includes the documentary and mini-museum, is free. See a large range of detailed sculptures, prop replicas and artworks from the films of Weta. Tours into the main site are paid, as are all the goodies in the gift shop. 

From museums, galleries, gardens, and more, there is so much to do in Wellington that is either free of charge or at a very modest fee. Start planning your Wellington and New Zealand adventure today.


To explore Wellington on a budget, hire a car from Wellington Airport or Wellington Downtown.

cost of render: 0.78270101547241 cached: false