It doesn’t happen all that often, but occasionally the Wellingtonistas will plan excursions with friends from out of town that don’t entirely revolve around a bar. And on those times, we want to do things that are a little bit touristy, but not overly so, so this is how we do it.

How I entertain those from out of town who might not want to drink all day:

After the jump, tourist activities ho!

A. The Chocolate Fish

You’ll have to be quick to get in and enjoy the Chocolate Fish (when is it closing again?), and you’ll have to be patient to get a table, but the drive out to Scorching Bay alone will make the trip worthwhile.This Wellington cafe is such an institution it even has it own Facebook group (if you consider that to be a level of praise, which apparently newspapers do, but anyone who belongs to Facebook wouldn’t). There’s a lot to love about the place. Waiters in fluro vests deliver food across to the tables overlooking the water, the chairs will remind you of being back at school except they’re handpainted with bright designs, there’s a big bottle of complimentary sunscreen by the water jugs, and the view out over the sea down to the South Island can’t be beaten. Afterwards if it’s warm, you can go for a swim at Scorching Bay or in one of the many “secret” little bays that the Wellingtonista favour. And if it’s too crowded to eat in, why not just grab one of their $6 gourmet shakes to go? Yes, that’s right. Six dollars for a milkshake. That’s enough of a tourist destination in its own right!

B. Tour of Parliament

(though you’ll need a drink afterwards)
There’s a reason why we get to see drunk politicians weave their way into cabs late at night slurring obscenities about various things. Wellington is the Capital you see. We live in the seat of POWER Mwu hu ha ha HA!

Want to see where all that power sits and how it all works? Then go on the incredibly informative tour of Parliament. Given the Wellingtonista’s 127 years combined public service we have done the tour many times and each time it’s different and you learn new things.

Sometimes, you are allowed to see the actual people you voted for at work. Let’s just say it’s not always inspiring.

C. City Gallery

You can spend hours here, as the spaces cleverly carved out of the old library can hold anything from one major exhibition to four smaller ones. Tucked away in the back next to one of Wellington’s best cafes (Nikau) is the tiny Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, which hosts an ever-changing series of exhibitions by local artists. And even when it’s closed, there are video installations by the entrance to keep you entertained or bemused, and the whole front of the gallery is one big artwork, courtesy of Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert.

D. That tree at the top of the cable car

Coming to a new city and being shown around by a local can be one of life’s true pleasures. Come over to my house, come over and play indeed!

Sometimes the best things in life are free. Imagine if you will being whisked around the coast by car, taking an aimless walk through the city viewing everything with fresh eyes, then having an experienced local take you firmly by the elbow and steer you toward the cable car.

“Oh but the best is yet to come,” he claims. So true.

The botanical gardens offer a fantastic view of the city and a climbable tree from which to be the queen of all you survey. You know they say, “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day” – well we think it should be amended to “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day up a big-arsed tree” because nothing beats climbing a tree for good clean fun. One Wellingtonista can mark her conversion from Aucklander to wannabe Wellingtonian to one fine afternoon up a tree with a beer, a German tourist and a local who knew how to showcase the charms of Wellington.

E. Wellington waterfront on a sunny week day

Is there any place more spectacular for a stroll than the waterfront? We don’t think so. Read the beautiful sculpture poetry. Laugh at the kids (and adults!) jumping off the wharf. Oggle the dragon-boaters. Eat some gelato. Argue about whether or not Te Papa is the fuggliest or most awesome building ever. And then point across the water at the Hutt and laugh. Man it’s great to be in Wellington.

Pack a hip flask, and check out the “bestnondrinking” tag for venues on Zoomin.