The Wellington City Sights Circuit Bus (tel. 09/583-5756; www.citysights.co.nz) is a convenient and fun way to see the best of the capital’s attractions. It departs daily every hour from Wellington i-SITE starting at 9:30am, with the last departure at 4:30pm. Each loop takes an hour and you can hop on and off at any of the 12 stops: Te Papa and the Waterfront, Courtenay Place, Basin Reserve, Wellington Zoo, Willis Street, Carter Observatory and Cable Car Museum, ZEALANDIA, Botanic Gardens, Parliament Precinct and Lambton Quay. It costs NZ$30 for adults and children are free with a paying adult.
Hammond’s Scenic Tours (tel. 04/472-0869; www.wellingtonsightseeingtours.com) offers another comprehensive tour of Wellington. Their 2 1/2-hour Wellington CityTour covers the financial and commercial area, Parliament buildings, and Botanic Garden; they also head up to Mount Victoria lookout and then around the coastal bays, returning to the city via View Road. It costs NZ$55 for adults and NZ$25 for children ages 4 to 14; tours depart daily at 10am and 2pm.
Flat Earth (tel. 0800/775-805 in NZ, or 04/977-5805; www.flatearth.co.nz) offers a range of excellent specialty tours, including very interesting Maori Treasures tours priced from NZ$229 per person for a half-day, and excellent Capital Arts Tours that immerse you in the city’s art and architecture for NZ$159 per person for a half-day.
Zest Food Tours (tel. 04/801-9198; www.zestfoodtours.co.nz) is a real hit with foodies. Its Walking Gourmet (daily 9:30am-1:30pm) costs NZ$255 per person and introduces you to the capital’s lively food scene and hard-to-find places. Taste Wellington (daily 9:30am-3pm) costs NZ$399 per person and includes coffee roasting, top specialty food stores, a wine-matched lunch at an award-winning restaurant, and a visit to the home of a local food writer. Chocolate Espresso (9:30am-noon) is a behind-the-scenes look into Wellington’s chocolate hot spots for NZ$135 for adults and NZ$99 for children under 12. Custom tours can be tailored to specific interests.
Wild About Wellington (tel. 027/441-9010 in NZ; www.wildaboutwellington.co.nz) has a fabulous Boutique Beer Tasting Tour, which is hosted by local beer expert/writer Neil Miller. The private 1-hour walking day tour for one or two guests is great value at NZ$190 (NZ$225 for two guests); and a 3-hour evening tour is NZ$190 per person. Fashion lovers should ask about their equally good City of Style Tour, which takes you to meet local fashion designers for NZ$125 per person.
Seal Coast Safari (tel. 0800/732-527 in NZ, or 04/801-6040; www.sealcoast.com) offers a completely different outing that departs daily from the visitor center at 10am and 1:30pm. For NZ$99 for adults (children 14 and under half-price), you’ll spend 2 3/4 hours taking the coastal road to the seals at Red Rocks. Walk Wellington (tel. 04/385-1675; www.walkwellington.org.nz), on the other hand, gives you a fabulous value introduction to the city. The Essential Wellington tour is NZ$20 per person and departs from the visitor center daily, rain, hail, or shine, at 10am. Additional afternoon walks are offered in summer at 5:30pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Wellington Movie Tours (tel. 027/419-3077 in NZ; www.movietours.co.nz) will give you a comprehensive overview of the Wellington movie scene, including visits to The Lord of the Rings locations, the Weta Cave, and a look at on-site movie clips, and movie props. Tours range from NZ$40 to NZ$120 per person.
Finally, Wellington Rover Tours (tel. 0800/426-211 in NZ, or 04/471-0044; www.wellingtonrover.co.nz) is another excellent company offering a wide range of interesting area tours. Their half-day Rover Ring Tour will take you to seven of the best Lord of the Rings locations in the greater Wellington area. It departs at 8:30am and 1:30pm and costs NZ$95 for adults and NZ$50 for children 12 and under. Their full-day Adventure Wairarapa outing includes a choice of horse-trekking, mountain biking, or high ropes (an exploration of risk-taking, trust, and coaching that involves harnesses, helmets, cables, ropes, and wooden beams strung 6-15m/20-50-ft. high among trees and poles) in the morning, followed by a hearty homestead lunch; in the afternoon you visit Martinborough village and nearby vineyards. It costs NZ$240 for adults and NZ$140 for children under 12.
On the Water
Take a Somes Island excursion with the Dominion Post Ferry. Simply take the ferry and stop off on the island, picking up a return ferry a few hours later. The island recently reopened to the public after 100 years of restricted access. In recent times, it has served as a quarantine station and before that as a prisoner-of-war camp. It has been replanted and developed as a wildlife refuge and has walking tracks and great views.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.