Things to Do in Wellington (Weekend or Otherwise)

One of the first details I got about my internship is that it would be from 9 to 5 on Monday through Thursday which leaves ample time for exploring during the weekend. By the end of my first week, I had already begun making plans for the weekend. I’m still not sure whether I’m planning to travel too far outside of Wellington just yet just because there is so much to see and do here, but I will be sure to share with those of you reading if I do along with details of what I do locally. Here is my list of recommended activities to do (weekend or otherwise) so far. Expect to read more as I see more. 

Visit the Museum of Tongarewa Te Papa.

If you ever get a chance to see this, please do. This is a place for people of all ages with interactive exhibits along with exhibits that always remain culturally relevant to New Zealand. I like to think of it as a beautiful mega crash course in New Zealand history and the indigenous Māori history. I easily spent half a day to explore each level of exhibits and there are still things I want to go back and see. 

The first exhibit level (Floor 2) comprised mostly of natural history as well as recent phenomena in nature.
My favorites were the kiwi displays, the exhibit about the giant squid, and pretty much any time I thought that animals looked like they were up to something funny.

There was even a section of exhibits about natural disasters. One was about Papatūānuku (earth) and her relation to the cause of earthquakes in New Zealand.
According to the exhibit, R
ūaumoko was the unborn child of the earth and the sky and is considered the god of earthquakes.  

The second level (Floor 3), otherwise known as “people’s impact on the land” had a stunning display called Blood Earth Fire and was a walkthrough of the history of how New Zealand came to be the land that it was.
I mean, doesn't that just look intriguing???

The third level (Floor 4), housed displays about the social history of New Zealand with exhibits about the Māori and the stories of immigrants who had made it to New Zealand. I wasn't able to photograph all of them due to their being some museum restrictions out of respect for the Māori community's contribution. 

Fun fact: Aotearoa (meaning long white cloud) is the Māori name for New Zealand.

The Mixing Room is an exhibit dedicated to telling the stories of refugees that have made New Zealand their new home. 

Unfortunately, the next level was being renovated for an upcoming exhibit (IN SEPTEMBER WHEN I’LL BE GONE) so the last level I visited was what was nothing more than a viewing terrace. Despite the windiness (that Wellington is known for but I had not seen at this point) on the rooftop, there was no denying the breathtaking view of the harbor I got.

*I didn’t want to make this part too long especially because there are so many parts of Te Papa I didn’t even get around to, here is a link to those pictures on Facebook.

Explore Cuba Street.

A disclaimer I’d like to make about just touring Cuba Street is that I was fortunate enough to be placed near here as my “home” for the next two months. Someone at the hospital called it the place “where all of the youth are” which I suppose is fitting. There are so many places to eat (mostly reasonably priced), cute little shops to browse, and you can guarantee that something will be happening there during the weekend.

Browse the Underground Market.

This wasn’t something that I initially set out to visit on Saturday and was intending to spend my entire day at the library. However, as I was preparing to leave, one of the other interns brought it to my attention in a group message and mentioned that it was near the harbor (aka in my intended direction). I wasn’t there for very long, but I definitely picked up a few souvenirs before I left and with plans to come back.

Get caught up in the rugby madness.

This is a bit more specific to the time that I arrived in Wellington…in the heart of rugby season when the Lions tour had stops in Wellington. If you come at the right time, it is next to impossible to avoid rugby happenings. SERIOUSLY. Rugby is a nationwide craze. On my way to Te Papa, I got distracted by the rugby fans diving into the harbor for the sake (what seemed to be) their rugby teams.
Go All-Blacks!

On Saturday night, I even went out with a few of the other interns to find a place to watch the game. Something that I learned is to leave at least 4 hours before the game actually starts to claim a seat at any bar in the heart of the city or at the giant Fanzone erected near the harbor. 

Find the local library (or at least something familiar.

No matter where I am in the world, a library is where I feel most comfortable and has always been like a second home for me. As great as it is to be in a place that’s so new and different, I think it’s important for anyone that will be away from their first home for a while is to find another place that makes where they’re going feel a little bit more at home. 

Don't forget to enjoy it.

As exciting as it is to be in the adventure capital of the world, sometimes I just like to find places with great views or a quiet atmosphere and just take a moment to enjoy how lucky I am to be here doing these things in the first place.  
Here's me on one of the better weather days last weekend. 

Plans for the Future

  • Go back to the Underground Market for souvenirs
  • Visit the Night Market on Cuba Street
  • Spend more time at the library
  • Take in NZ's version of American food and go to the Adrenalin Forest (later this week, actually!!!!)
  • Buy fresh produce from the local market
  • Figure out how I'm going to fit all of my stuff in my suitcase in a month or so

Until later this week,