I lost myself in Wellington for a week: Arts, Quirky Bars, National Tattoo Museum, Markets & much more! New Zealand’s cultural capital is more than just a stopover. It is the kind of place where you can find anything and everything... so I thought I'd put together a handy Wellington City Guide for backpackers...

Wellington City Guide

1. Live Music

There is always Live Music happening in Wellywood! Wellington hosts loads of gigs big and small. Many of the local bars have live bands playing, and international artists tend to head to the Westpac Stadium when they're in town. To check out up and coming gigs, grab a ‘Rip it Up’ guide from Base Wellington or check online: Rip it Up

2. National Tattoo Museum

Located on 187 Vivian St in the city centre, Underground Arts is not only famous for its dedication to Maori Tattoo Art ‘Ta Moko,’ but a great place to get a tattoo. The Museum is free and open 12:00pm – 5:30pm weekdays, open late until 8:00pm Fridays & Saturdays and closed Sundays. You will find albums of illustrations from across the globe, Maori tattoo history, tools & more. Entry is FREE!

3. Sport

No visit to NZ is complete without seeing a Rugby game! Seeing an All Blacks Games is an absolute must do when in New Zealand. I guarantee that if you don't know the first thing about rugby you'll still be swept up by the atmosphere after seeing the Haka live.

4. Markets

Cuba Street Night Markets are on every Friday 5:00pm – 11:00pm. Expect live performances, cheap international eats, fashion, arts & crafts, fortune tellers & more.

cuba street wellington free things to do
Cuba Street Wellington

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5. Shopping

  • Recycled Boutique
    Vintage clothing & accessories... amazing! Can be found on 143 Vivian Street in the city centre.
  • Cosmic
    Love this place! You will find vintage toys and fridge magnets (think Space Invaders), onesies, fire twirling & poi accessories, jewellery for all types of piercings & anything weird or unimaginable.
  • Spacesuit
    Vintage and new clothing for boys & girls: sunglasses, animal print woollen jumpers, vintage leather bags, army attire, quirky hats, second hand clothing & more. 164 Cuba St.
  • Slow Boat Records
    Great for a trip down memory lane. You will find records here dating back to Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys & Elvis Presley. The entire store is lined with posters & music memorabilia. 183 Cuba St.
  • Pop up Stores
    Take a walk along the harbour front new Queen’s Wharf and you will find tiny pop up stores set up in shipping tins. You will find unique souvenirs, jewellery & more

6. Make your Own Jewellery

Imagine a shop filled with any kind of bead imaginable. Tables line the store and allow you to make your own bracelets, anklets or necklaces – make yourself a NZ souvenir, or make someone special a present. Tiger Eye Beads at 109 Cuba St.

7. Taste New Zealand Honey

Blink and you will miss it! At 134 Cuba St sits a tiny (and I mean tiny) honey store that offers free tastings!

8. Drinking

  • Basement Bar
    The bar gained its name for a reason. Take a photo of the ‘Jager Wall,’ play some pool & grab a pizza. Come 10:00PM the bar is absolutely pumping with backpackers. Cheapest drinks in town. 21 Cambridge Terrace (connected to Base).
  • Electric Avenue
    ‘The place where everyone ends up.’ Like Basement Bar, Electric Avenue is open late. They also have cheap nightly meal deals. 132 Courtney Place
  • Mac’s Brewery
    Delicious NZ brewed beer and with a new addition to the family – Ginger Beer – yum! Mac’s Brewery have a huge outdoor drinking area overlooking the harbour. Great for an afternoon session. 4 Taranaki St
  • Rogue & Vagabond
    Grab a bean bag, a boutique beer on tap and laze in the sun. This bar not only looks cool, but is the ultimate place to watch the afternoon slip away. Their beers rotate every month to showcase both local and international craft beers. 18 Garrett St
  • Fast Eddie’s Pool Hall
    Take a graffiti lined laneway off Manners Street, and upstairs to Fast Eddies. Free Pool for backpackers from 4:00PM – 7:00PM every day. Drum n Bass gigs, pin ball machines, their very own distilled vodka & a live radio broadcasting station inside. Need I say more? 1 / 125 Manners St
  • St Johns
    Located by the harbour, St Johns have a garden area with bean bags and outdoor seating – great place to watch the world go by. 5 Cable St
  • Havana
    It looks like a tiny house – until you walk inside. Great for early or late night drinks. 163 Tory St
  • Southern Cross
    Nice outdoor area with a big tree sat right in the middle. Mondays & Tuesdays there is a 2 for 1 Stonegrill special where you cook your own food! 39 Abel Smith St

9. Theatre

Bats Theatre is a small, quaint & beautifully designed theatre offering live shows at a discounted backpacker price. The location continues to change so just ask the staff at Base Wellington for details! But Wellington has more theatres including The Embassy where several high profile movie premieres have been held.

10. Food & Coffee

  • Mojo’s Coffee
    Wellington consumes more coffee by capita than New York, and many coffee places actually roast their own beans. Pop into Mojo’s Coffee before midday to take a FREE coffee roasting tour and to sample the goods.
  • Sweet Mother’s Kitchen
    Funky, Quirky and delicious & cheap Mexican food – just around the corner from Base. 5 Courtney Place
  • Midnight Expresso
    Take a window seat and watch the people of Cuba St pass by. This place is cheap with great indoor designs and a pinball machine. You will find many juices, vegetarian & gluten free meals, Blackcurrant Tea & even the option to have Cocopops for breakfast for just $4. Open for Breakfast & Lunch. 178 Cuba St
  • Fidels
    We ran into the All Blacks whilst here – so the food must have been good! This place is buzzing with colour and character and the food is absolutely amazing! If you are looking for a big hangover fry up, this is the place to go. 234 Cuba St

Learn more about Cuba Street, Wellington.

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