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Wellington and the Wairarapa

Looking for great cafes, unique wildlife encounters, and boutique shopping? You’ll find it all and more in the Wellington and Wairarapa region. Wellington, the nation's capital, buzzes with an infectious energy, boasting an arts scene as vibrant as its famed coffee culture. Enjoy a relaxing breakfast overlooking Wellington’s beautiful harbour. Spend an afternoon meeting the wildlife at Wellington Zoo. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love sampling the tasty offerings at Wellington’s renowned cafes and eateries. 

Just a short drive away, the Wairarapa region unfolds with its charming townships, renowned wineries, and lush rural landscapes. Once you’ve ticked off your list of things to do in Wellington, hit the road and start exploring everything on offer in the Wairarapa. We’re talking wineries, cycle trails, artisan producers, and spectacular coastlines boasting unbeatable stargazing.  

No matter what time of year you’re planning your campervan holiday in New Zealand, Wellington and Wairarapa stand out as year-round destinations. In summer, Wellington's waterfront comes alive, perfect for sun-drenched strolls and alfresco dining, while the Wairarapa's golden beaches beckon for lazy afternoons and vibrant sunsets. Autumn transforms the landscape into a tapestry of reds and golds; it's the best time to meander through the Wairarapa's vineyards, savouring the region's renowned pinot noir amidst the fall foliage.

 

Why explore Wellington & Wairarapa by Campervan

There’s no better way to discover Wellington and Wairarapa than with an Apollo campervan. Be as spontaneous or structured as you like. Take your time, travel at your own pace, and truly immerse yourself in everything on offer in this special region. With your own kitchen, bed, and bathroom onboard, travel by Apollo campervan is all about freedom and comfort. A road trip through Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan is all about the freedom to go where you want when you want. With a campervan, your plans are as flexible as your mood, allowing you to soak up moments that you'd miss if you were rushing to meet hotel or tour schedules.

Travelling by campervan isn't just about getting from A to B; it's about the experiences along the way. It's about impromptu picnics at breathtaking overlooks, morning coffees with views that beat any café, and nights spent under a blanket of stars. Fancy spending an extra day exploring a hidden gem you've stumbled upon? Go for it. Every turn in the road offers new possibilities, and with a campervan, you're in the driver's seat!

A campervan holiday in New Zealand, especially through areas like Wellington and the Wairarapa, is a journey into the heart of what makes this part of the world so special. And it's all yours to explore!

 

Things to do in Wellington & Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa are bursting at the seams with activities and sights, catering to every taste and interest. If you’re enjoying a family holiday, you’ll find plenty of great family-friendly things to do in Wellington that promise fun for all ages. And if you’re a foodie looking for a taste of something new, you’ll find no shortage of must-try food in Wellington. Venture into the Wairarapa, and you'll find a peaceful escape with wine tours, scenic hikes, and charming country towns waiting to be explored. 

Top 15 things to do in Wellington Top 15 things to do in Wellington

Top 15 things to do in Wellington

In this helpful guide, we share 15 of the must-do Wellington activities worth adding to your travel itinerary.  But first …

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Popular Wellington & Wairarapa road trips & itineraries

Positioned at the southern end of New Zealand's North Island, Wellington and the Wairarapa region are perfectly placed for unforgettable road trips. Starting from Wellington, you can easily navigate your way through the scenic routes that lead to the Wairarapa, where vineyards, coastlines, and quaint towns await. Whether you're coming from the North Island's urban centres or making the crossing from the South Island, these regions offer fantastic campervan road trip experiences with a variety of itineraries to suit every traveller’s taste. Here are a few worth checking out:

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Ultimate 7-day South Island campervan itinerary

Thinking of hitting the top of the South Island on a campervan road trip? Great idea! From the lively vibe of Christchurch to the stunning beauty...
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Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure. 
 

Apollo Campervan branches

Christchurch

The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Wellington takes you along some of the South Island’s most scenic coastline. There’s a fair bit to see and do along the way, so be sure to take your time and perhaps plan an overnight stay in Kaikoura. This journey includes crossing the Cook Strait by ferry.

Queenstown

Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore more of the South Island? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and spend a few days heading northward, including crossing the Cook Strait by ferry. You may even like to plan an epic road trip and continue on to Auckland. You can arrange to drop off your camper at any of our three branches. 

Auckland

The North Island is packed full of sights and experiences, so why not tick off a few with a road trip from Apollo Auckland to Wellington? The beauty of a campervan trip is that you can stop when you need to, change your route, or take a detour if you spot a signpost pointing to something you’d like to see. 

Auckland City Skyline

Auckland

New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

 

Helpful tips for visiting Wellington & Wairarapa

 

Climate and seasons in Wellington & The Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa showcase New Zealand's dynamic climate, offering a spectrum of seasonal experiences.

Wellington, known for as the ‘windy city’, presents a temperate maritime climate.

  • Summers (December to February) are pleasant with temperatures averaging around 19°C to 21°C, ideal for beach visits and outdoor cafes.
  • Autumn (March to May) brings cooler, calm days, perfect for exploring the city's vibrant arts scene.
  • Winter (June to August) sees temperatures drop to 6°C – 12°C, a time when the region's cultural events come to the forefront.
  • Spring (September to November) revitalises the city with mild temperatures and blooming gardens.

The Wairarapa, while sharing Wellington's temperate traits, often enjoys more pronounced seasonal contrasts, especially in the more rural areas. Expect crisp, frosty mornings in winter, transitioning to warm, dry summers ideal for vineyard tours. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, though June and July can be wetter, making the lush landscapes even more vivid.

 

 

 

 

What to pack

An adventure through Wellington and the Wairarapa in your campervan calls for thoughtful packing. Given the varied climates and the awesome variety of outdoor activities available, ensuring you have the right gear can make all the difference. From essential outdoor apparel to campervan must-haves and sun protection, here's what you should consider packing.

  • Outdoor gear: The great outdoors of Wellington and the Wairarapa invite exploration, so outdoor gear is important. Pack layers to adapt to the changing weather – think breathable fabrics for warm days and insulated, waterproof options for cooler, wetter conditions. Sturdy walking shoes are a must for those planning to tread the numerous trails or wander the vibrant city streets.
  • Campervan add-ons: To make the most of your campervan experience, consider packing some add-ons. A portable barbecue can elevate your dining under the stars, while extra camping chairs and a table (these can be added to your campervan hire) can make your outdoor setup more comfortable.
  • Sun protection: New Zealand's sun can be surprisingly intense, so ample sun protection is essential. A broad-spectrum sunscreen, UV-protected sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat should be on your packing list. For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

 

Nearby attractions and day trips from Wellington

Paekakariki & The Escarpment Track

Just a short drive from Wellington, Paekakariki serves as the gateway to The Escarpment Track, one of the region's most exhilarating walks. This trail offers stunning views of the Kāpiti Coast and the Tasman Sea, making it a favourite among hikers. The track's challenging stair sections and swing bridges add to the adventure, providing a rewarding experience with panoramic vistas at every turn.

Kāpiti Coast & Kāpiti Island

The Kāpiti Coast, with its beautiful beaches and quaint towns, is perfect for a leisurely day trip. For a unique adventure, take a boat to Kāpiti Island, a nature reserve that's home to some of New Zealand's most rare and endangered birds. The island's rich history and conservation efforts, combined with its natural beauty, make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Somes Island

Located in the middle of Wellington Harbour, Somes Island (Matiu) offers a peaceful escape with a rich history. Accessible by ferry, this predator-free scientific reserve boasts a unique blend of natural and historical attractions, including well-preserved WWII-era relics. It's an ideal spot for picnics, short walks, and wildlife spotting, especially for those interested in conservation and history.

Days Bay and the Remutakas

Days Bay, accessible by a scenic ferry ride from Wellington, is known for its vibrant arts scene, cafes, and swimming beach, making it a popular spot for relaxation and recreation. For the more adventurous, a drive through the Remutaka Ranges offers breathtaking views and access to a network of trails in the Remutaka Forest Park, perfect for hiking and biking enthusiasts.

 

 

Nearby attractions and day trips in the Wairarapa

Castle Point Lighthouse

Perched on a scenic clifftop, Castle Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of beauty in the Wairarapa region. This historic lighthouse, accessible via a short, scenic walk, offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean. It's an ideal spot for photography, wildlife watching, and soaking in the serene beauty of one of New Zealand's most picturesque locations.

Pūtangirua Pinnacles and Cape Palliser

The Pūtangirua Pinnacles, with their eerie, towering rock formations, offer a landscape that feels like stepping onto another planet. These geological wonders, coupled with a visit to nearby Cape Palliser, where you can climb New Zealand's tallest lighthouse, make for an unforgettable day trip full of adventure and natural beauty.

Greytown

Greytown is a charming Victorian country village known for its well-preserved heritage buildings, boutique shopping, and artisanal eateries. Strolling through the tree-lined streets, you'll find a delightful mix of antique stores, galleries, and cafes that exude a quaint, laid-back vibe. It's the perfect destination for those looking to unwind and indulge in the slower pace of rural New Zealand life.

 

 

Where to stay in Wellington & The Wairarapa with a campervan

Exploring Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan offers the ultimate freedom to discover New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and townships at your own pace. When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds that cater to every need. Here are a few worth adding to your travel itinerary:

Wellington

Wairarapa

For more great family friendly campsites and holiday parks, check out our guide to the best family friendly campgrounds near Wellington.

Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ blog

Fun Activities for Your New Zealand Family Holiday.

Planning a New Zealand family holiday by campervan hire can be as exciting as the trip itself. From the geothermal wonders of the North Island to wildlife watching in the South, New Zealand is packed with awesome activities for families of all ages and stages.  

In this handy guide, we share some of the best must-do experiences in New Zealand for families. 

 

Why you should take your family on holiday in New Zealand

New Zealand is more than just a travel destination; it's a playground for families seeking a mix of adventure and relaxation. With its breathtaking landscapes and a diverse range of activities, this beautiful country is the perfect destination for a family holiday. Because New Zealand is a relatively small country, you won’t have to drive for too long to get from one awesome destination to the next. And, when you travel by campervan hire, every overnight stay offers a new experience. From freedom camping in secluded spots to enjoying the amenities at well-equipped holiday parks, your options are as varied as the landscapes you'll drive through. 

 

The best way to explore NZ with your family

If you’re planning to explore New Zealand as a family, nothing beats the freedom and flexibility of a campervan hire. When you travel by camper, you have the flexibility to stop, start, and rest whenever you like. When the kids get tired, a comfy bed is just a few steps away. No need to search for public restrooms; you've got your own bathroom on board. Plus, you can easily whip up a family meal in the kitchenette. 

Apollo Campervans offers a range of motorhomes that are not just a means of transport but fully equipped mobile homes. They come with all the family friendly amenities you'd want, making your family holiday in NZ as comfortable and convenient as it is fun and adventurous.

Image: Tourism New Zealand

 

Top 10 most fun activities for you and your family in New Zealand

Ready to plan a travel itinerary for your New Zealand road trip? Here are our recommendations for the top 10 must-do family activities in NZ.
 

1. Rainbow’s End, Auckland

If you find yourself in Auckland and are looking for a day of thrills and fun, Rainbow's End is the perfect addition to your New Zealand itinerary. Located in Manukau, this amusement park is a hit with families and offers a variety of rides and attractions that cater to all ages. From the adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to the more laid-back family rides, there's something for everyone. And for the little ones, Kidz Kingdom is a dedicated space just for them. There's ample parking available for campervans and motorhomes too.  

READ MORE: 15 family friendly things to do in Auckland.

 

2. Rotorua Canopy Tours, Rotorua

For families keen on a unique outdoor adventure, Rotorua Canopy Tours is a must-visit. Located in the heart of Rotorua, this eco-tour offers an unforgettable ziplining experience through native New Zealand forest. Glide through the treetops, walk across swing bridges, and learn about local flora and fauna from knowledgeable guides.

With safety as a top priority, the tour is suitable for children aged six and up. Park your campervan in their designated area, and you're all set for a day of treetop fun. 

READ MORE: Top 15 things to do in Rotorua.

 

3. Huka Honey Hive, Taupō

If you're travelling through Taupō, a visit to the Huka Honey Hive is a sweet treat for the whole family. Situated just a short drive from the famous Huka Falls, this unique attraction offers a delightful blend of education and indulgence. Check out the interactive exhibits to learn about the fascinating world of bees and honey production. Don't miss the live bee displays, where you can safely observe these industrious insects at work.

 

4. Wētā Workshop, Wellington

For families who are fans of movie magic, a visit to Wētā Workshop in Wellington is like stepping into another world. Located in the suburb of Miramar, this award-winning special effects and prop studio opens its doors to the public for a behind-the-scenes look at how movie magic is made. From intricate miniatures to lifelike prosthetics, the range of creations you'll see is astounding.

Whether you're keen to learn about the art of filmmaking or want to try your hand at sculpting, there's a tour for you. The studio is incredibly family friendly, with interactive exhibits that will captivate kids and adults alike. It's a must-add to your New Zealand itinerary, especially if you're looking for unique family activities NZ has to offer.

 

5. Zealandia, Wellington

If your family has a penchant for wildlife and natural beauty, Zealandia in Wellington is an unmissable stop. Situated just a few kilometres from the city centre, this urban ecosanctuary is a groundbreaking conservation project that aims to restore Wellington's valley and freshwater ecosystems. Here, you'll encounter some of New Zealand's most endangered native birds, reptiles, and insects in their natural habitat.

Zealandia offers a range of guided tours and self-led walks, allowing you to explore the sanctuary at your own pace. The interactive exhibits and the discovery area are particularly engaging for children, making it an educational yet fun outing for the whole family. With plenty of campervan parking available, it's easy to include Zealandia in your New Zealand itinerary. 

 

6. International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch

Heading to Christchurch and keen to try out an icy adventure? The International Antarctic Centre, located near Christchurch Airport, offers a glimpse into life on the frozen continent. Experience an Antarctic storm, take a ride on the Hägglund all-terrain vehicle, or get up close and personal with Little Blue Penguins.

The centre offers a variety of interactive exhibits that are both educational and entertaining. Kids will love the 4D Extreme movie and the indoor polar playground, while adults can enjoy the informative displays about Antarctic expeditions. 

READ MORE: Top 15 things to do in Christchurch.

 

7. Margaret Mahy Playground, Christchurch

Nestled in the heart of Christchurch's central city, the Margaret Mahy Playground is a vibrant space designed for endless fun. With areas suited for all ages, from toddlers to teens, it's a hit with families. Named after one of New Zealand's most beloved children's authors, this expansive playground is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It features a wide array of play equipment, including slides, swings, and water play areas. And when the kids need a rest, they can head back to the campervan for a bite to eat before you head off to explore more of Christchurch. 

 

8. Tūhura Tropical Forest, Dunedin

Step into a lush, tropical oasis at the Tūhura Tropical Forest in Dunedin's Otago Museum. The perfect addition to your family holiday in NZ, this living, three-level rainforest is home to more than 1,000 exotic butterflies, along with birds, fish, and turtles. The forest is climate-controlled to mimic a tropical environment, making it a warm escape on a chilly Dunedin day. 

Visitors can explore the forest via winding pathways, crossing bridges and streams as they go. It's an immersive experience that offers educational insights into biodiversity and conservation. 

 

9. Puzzling World, Wānaka

Prepare to have your mind bent at Puzzling World in Wānaka. This unique attraction is a wonderland of optical illusions, puzzling rooms, and mind-boggling architecture. Located just a short drive from the centre of Wānaka, it's an experience that will leave you questioning your senses.

The venue features a range of illusions and puzzles that are as entertaining as they are perplexing. Highlights include the Tilted House, the Ames Room, and the famous Leaning Tower of Wānaka. It's a place where curiosity is rewarded, making it an ideal outing for families. Kids will love solving puzzles and navigating the Great Maze, while adults can enjoy the challenge of the Puzzle Centre. With ample campervan parking, it's easy to add this quirky stop to your New Zealand itinerary. 

READ MORE: 15 must do’s in New Zealand’s South Island.

 

10. Lake Wakatipu cruise, Queenstown

Set sail on the stunning waters of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown for an experience that's as relaxing as it is scenic. The lake, framed by majestic mountains, offers a tranquil backdrop for a family outing. Cruises typically depart from Queenstown's main pier and offer various routes, taking you past historic landmarks and natural wonders. With spacious decks and indoor seating areas, there's a spot for everyone to enjoy the view. It's a fantastic way to see Queenstown from a different perspective. 

Image: Tourism New Zealand

 

Where to stay with your family in New Zealand

Finding the perfect spot to park your campervan for the night is an essential part of any New Zealand road trip. Luckily, New Zealand is dotted with plenty of excellent campsites and holiday parks that cater to families. Whether you're keen on beach camping NZ style or prefer the serenity of a forest setting, you'll find a place that fits the bill.

Many of these sites offer top-notch facilities, including playgrounds, BBQ areas, and even swimming pools. They're not just places to sleep; they're destinations in their own right. If you're looking for some tried-and-true recommendations for family camping, check out our helpful guide to family-friendly campsites in New Zealand.

 

Ready to explore New Zealand with your family?

From ziplining to lake cruising, a family holiday in NZ has something for everyone. And there's no better way to soak it all in than with an Apollo campervan. With the freedom to set your own travel itinerary, you can explore at your own pace, making spontaneous stops and detours along the way.

So why wait? Start planning your unforgettable New Zealand road trip today. With Apollo, you're not just hiring a campervan; you're booking an experience that will be treasured by the whole family. Book your Apollo campervan online today and set the wheels in motion for a holiday filled with adventure, discovery, and quality family time.

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