Your guide to summer in Wellington

Summer in Wellington means incredible summer events and festivals, meals at award-winning restaurants, walks, gelato and a swim at Oriental Bay

Wellington turns on the charm in a big way during summer, which is only natural for a city that sits between a sparkling harbour and lush hills.

Although the capital can’t promise full-on scorching weather every day, you can rest assured that your trip to Wellington during the warmer months will be filled with incredible events and festivals, thirst-quenching craft beer, delicious  and unforgettable arts and culture experiences.

Gelato on the waterfront

A walk around the waterfront is a must-do if you're in Wellington during summer, just follow the flocks of locals down to the harbour. Head towards Oriental Bay, and you’ll pass gelato shops, cafés and bars. Keep walking further around the bays or take it easy and soak up some sun on the beach. Kaffee Eis at Franks Kitts Park and Gelissimo at Freyberg are top contenders for the best gelato to eat while people-watching in the shade of a pōhutukawa tree.

Wellington's city-side golden sand beach

Remember to pack your swimsuit just in case you fancy a dip to cool off. Oriental Bay is a short 15-minute walk from the city centre. Because it is sheltered by the harbour, Oriental Bay is a calm chill out spot for the whole family. If you’re feeling brave, look out for the diving boards and other prime jumping spots around the waterfront. Or, try slightly drier with a stand-up paddleboard or kayak - you can hire these from Ferg’s Kayaks, who also offer lessons.

Summer events calendar

Cuba Dupa and the NZ Fringe Festival are highlights of the summer season. These annual events show off the quirky, cultural capital and the creatives who live and work here. Expect music, dance, art, theatre, and everything in between.

Music takes centre stage this summer with opera in December, Marlon Williams in January, and Ed Sheeran in February. March brings 121 Festival, a three-day music festival held under the 200-year-old trees at Tauherenikau Racecourse, and Jim Beam Homegrown, which celebrates Kiwi music.

Sport is also on the agenda with a packed summer of cricket, hockey and football games. Those who'd rather participate than watch sport will love Capital Enduro, a new global-level enduro mountain bike race.

A walk with a view

Locals love a walk to the top of Mount Victoria to enjoy the sunset. Don’t let the name scare you, it’s technically a mountain, but the walk up will only take you around half an hour, and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and bays. From here, you can also wind your way to the Southern Walkway trail and admire a variety of scenery, ranging from views of the harbour and central city to the shade and tranquillity of the Town Belt forest. 

Outdoor drinks & dining

Top off your Wellington summer experience in some of the city’s finest al fresco eating and drinking spots. Having a gin on the lawn at St John’s or a pint in the park outside Rogue & Vagabond is a must-do. Craft beer bars Fortune Favours and Heyday Beer Co have excellent outdoor spaces, as well as snazzy indoors you can retreat to if things start cooling down.

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