Why you should explore outside of Wellington city on your next trip

It’s tempting when you visit Wellington to stay in the city.  The city is so wonderfully compact and public transport so good that it’s true that you can happily stay in Wellington without needing a car.  In fact when I lived there I ended up selling mine because I used it so little.

But, there is a whole new world waiting to explore just outside of the central city that makes hiring a car well worth it.  We hired our rental car for 48 hours for our 4 day trip to Wellington and that was the perfect mix of exploring on foot and exploring further afield.  We used Apex Car Rentals who were an easy walk to pick up and an even easier drop off at the airport on our return.

There are so many places you can go that are further afield and we didn’t even begin to get to them all but here’s a few of the ones we did manage to explore.

Head up to Kapiti Coast

We’re frequent visitors to Paraparaumu with my children’s Grandparents living here and there is just so much to do here.

From heading down to the beach and watching the sun set, grabbing a beachfront drink or having a play at the park.

Paraparaumu Beach

To going to the amazing indoor pools, complete with hydroslides.

Coastlands Aquatic Centre

There are also some great places to stay that are large and well priced.  This time we stayed at Elliotts Kapiti Coast Motor Lodge.  It had heaps of room to spread out and importantly for the kids not too far from the pools! 

Elliotts Motor Lodge Kapiti

Head further up and you will find Otaki, with it’s Sunday markets and factory shops – not to mention the great River Cottage Cafe (an old converted stables on the way in to Otaki).

Off The Loop

Further still you will find Off The Loop – a  Cable Wakeboard & Water Park in Foxton. 

Off the Loop

This amazing spot is just off the main road in a couple of paddocks with some man made lakes.  Here you can indulge in wakeboarding (being towed behind a cable), a cable version of sea biscuiting, stand up paddle boarding – or my kids favourite – a giant inflatable obstacle course.

Head out to the Hutt Valley

Or heading out the other side you can explore the Hutt Valley.  We headed out to Stokes Valley to see my sister in law.  It’s a lovely drive with the river running alongside you and it left me longing to head over the Rimutaka Hills to see Wairarapa again – but that’s a trip for another day.

While out there we did head to the wonderful Seashore Cabaret in Petone.  A relative new comer to Wellington (created in 2016) it makes its home in a former dance hall on the Petone Esplanade above the rowing club. 

Seashore Cabaret

Suitably eclectic it you’ll find yourself constantly finding new things to look at – from the view back to Wellington on the deck, to the vintage signs, the pinball machines or the vintage ride on toys.  With good kiwi pub style food our kids recommend getting your hands on a chocolate milkshake here!

Seashore Cabaret

Or head to Brooklyn or Island Bay

And closer to the city you can head up to the Brooklyn wind turbine to get a stunning view of the city from up high and get buffeted around by the wind (trust me – it’s awesome).

Wellington - Brooklyn wind turbine

Or head around to Island Bay (or further still to Owhiro Bay) and see some awesome beach front houses and watch the sun set.

Island Bay light house