One of the questions on any parents mind has to be “is the city I’m about to move to child friendly” because living in a city that doesn’t cater for kids, must make parenting 100% harder and let’s be honest, it’s hard enough!
We moved to Wellington without ever having visited it and we were pleasantly surprised. To answer the question; YES! Wellington is one of the most child friendly cities I’ve ever been to.
Back in South Africa, child friendly restaurants means having a play area with a jungle gym. That is not what it means here. I’m yet to visit a single restaurant that has a play area. Instead, kids sit at the table, are provided with crayons and colouring books or a box of toys to play with. There is usually a kids menu and often, you can get a fluffy (cup of frothy milk with chocolate powder) on the house. Kids meals are usually reasonably priced too! We have a few favourite places including Southern Cross which has a cool collection of toys, board games, an outside section and even has activities on the weekend and Joe’s Garage which has toys and colouring supplies. St Johns bar has less entertainment but has an amazing outside grassy area which is great for kids to play while you enjoy a drink in the sun.
We use public transport to get everywhere! There is Uber available and taxi’s too but without child seats, we can’t rely on them so instead we rely on the bus system to get us to and from places we don’t want to drive to. We absolutely love the freedom that public transport affords us and we use the bus even late at night because it’s safe enough to walk home even in the dark.
We looked at a whole lot of kindys before we settled on the one we did. We wanted a school for Oden with a good outdoor area, fun activities and most importantly, a focus on letting the kids get messy and arty. And boy did we score big. Oden comes home covered in paint with wet clothing in his bag from water activities all day. He uses a hammer and does wooden activities outside and basically comes home every day EXHAUSTED. The school provides all meals, snacks, nappies and even sunblock. It’s definitely pricy to send your kid to kindy here and many moms stay home when they have more than one child to save on costs but for working parents, having lots of options is always a plus.
There are SO many options for the weekend. The city has fun day’s planned for most of summer. There are multi cultural festivals celebrating other nationalities and there are parades for Christmas and fire works and bands play music in the gardens and and and… there is ALWAYS something to keep the family busy.
There are indoor play places to visit on rainy days. With slides, jumping castles and toys. There are always other kids for your child to play with. Some of them have cafes and you can buy lunch and even sit at a table and work while your child runs wild.
We had this dream back in South Africa of being able to visit the playground. There wasn’t anything like that around where we lived. We could drive into the city to visit the playground there but it wasn’t something we could do very often. Here we live within walking distance of one amazing playground and a short 5minute drive from central park which is an incredible park to walk through and also has an awesome playground that is usually pretty busy.
The museum is FREE to visit. It has so many cool things for kids to see and learn about and although we have been there several times, we always discover something new when we go back. There are child focussed exhibitions and sometimes even art exhibits that are geared towards children specifically. I couldn’t recommend a visit to the museum more.
Beaches, Pools and Aquatic centres
If you like the beach, which I don’t 😛 there are lots of those around. Oden loves playing in the sand, swimming in the ocean and basically just running wild on the beach. Admittedly, we haven’t been too often because he seems to prefer swimming at the indoor aquatic centres because a few of them have cool slides and current pools. If you’re prepared to drive out to Upper Hutt, there’s an aquatic centre with a wave pool! If you want to swim under the sun, there are outdoor pools too. You pay to use the aquatic centres but it’s worth it. They are clean, well maintained and very fun for kids.
I am not a fan of Zoos. I think they are miserable places that are usually depressing and look like prison’s for animals. The Wellington Zoo is NOT one of those miserable places. The enclosures are large and green and lush. The animals are well cared for, look healthy and there are even habitat enclosures. We have been 3 times and we are going again next weekend. Be prepared to WALK A LOT. It is massive.
Work/ Life Balance
I think my favourite part of living in Wellington has been the emphasis on work/life balance. People work to live. They don’t all live to work. Family time is completely sacred and in my personal experience, employers understand your commitments as a parent. My work hours are based around dropping my son off at school and if he’s sick, it’s not frowned upon to have to look after your child. If you are sick, you are told to stay home rather than working sick and infecting all your colleagues. People don’t treat you rudely if you aren’t obsessed with being at work. This was quite a bit of a surprise for me – I definitely come from a background of “I am so busy” where balance isn’t the focus.
So is it a good choice for a family?
I’d say this city is perfect for raising a family and setting up a new life. The people are welcoming and supportive. My job at least is really balanced and although I work hard, I am treated like a person and not a machine. The city is always busy and bustling with things to do (except over Christmas time when it’s DEAD and there’s hardly anything to do). We LOVE living in Wellington and it’s 100% the right choice for us for everything we want for our family.
If you’re considering moving to Wellington and you’re not sure if it’s child friendly enough for you, there might be other factors but this is one thing you definitely don’t need to worry about!
Leave a comment if you have any questions or anything to add to the list!