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Wellington, it’s time to get hands-on! Whether you’re looking for a new activity to enjoy with friends, something to keep the kids busy in the school holidays, a unique way to celebrate a special birthday, or to spice up your next date night – there’s plenty on offer across the capital! From cooking to crafting, painting to puzzle-solving, check out some of our top picks for your next day out.

Craft with the crew at Wētā Workshop

For over 20 years, the talented team at Wētā Workshop have been making movie magic right here in Miramar. Now they’re sharing their tricks of the trade with you, with a series of creative hands-on workshops.

Pop yourself in the make-up chair and learn how to create super-convincing scrapes, scars and wounds – using silicone gels, oozy movie blood and expert SFX techniques. More curious about costumes? Learn how Wētā Workshop’s wardrobe department use leatherwork and chainmaille to kit out armies from The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia and more – as you design, dye and emboss your very own patterned piece. Or get sculpting as you experiment with modelling clay and tinfoil to bring a fantastical 3D character to life.

As well as getting seriously inspired, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind keepsake to take home with you and remember your experience by.

Get up close with wonderful wildlife

Cute, cuddly and oh-so-Instagram friendly, a Close Encounter at Wellington Zoo is your backstage pass to meeting and greeting your favourite furry friends! There’s plenty of animals to say kia ora to – perhaps the adorable red pandas will clamber all over your lap as you feed them fruit, the capybaras will enjoy a good stretch as you scratch their backs, or the lemurs will pluck grapes out of your hand as you stroke their soft black-and-white coats.

As the zookeeper shares fascinating stories about the species and answers all your curly questions, know that you’re making a positive difference, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Zoo’s vital conservation efforts.

Cook up a storm at Savour or House Of Dumplings

Good food, good company and good vibes – sounds great to us! Pop an apron on and get set to find out which of your friends is the true Masterchef. Savour’s range of cooking classes and workshops allow you to sharpen your culinary skills and learn top techniques from a professional chef. Join a regularly-scheduled class or book a private event for your group of foodies, as you use sustainably-sourced, organic ingredients to whip up dishes from around the world.

Or if you’re a dumpling fan (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), then discover the joy of creating dumplings from scratch, under the careful and friendly tuition of House of Dumplings. Sip on bottomless jasmine tea as you make your own fillings, fold your dumplings into the perfect shape – and then the best part – eat your creations at the end!

Create a work of art with Paintvine

Seen the real deal at Te Papa and reckon your masterpieces could feature in an exhibition? Channel your inner Picasso, Monet, or Van Gogh and finesse your very own painting, with a paintbrush in one hand and a pinot in the other. Novices, never fear – the expert tuition of an artist will guide you through every stroke, as you surprise yourself with your own artistic talent!

With a variety of venues across the city and a regularly changing mix of designs on offer, a paint and wine night is the perfect blend of creativity and conversation. Paintvine provide all the equipment and tidy up all the mess, so at the end of the session, all you have to do is pat yourself on the back and snap a pic with your flash new artwork, all ready to hang up at home.

Get locked in a room with your mates… and escape!

Jump in the Mystery Machine and get the gang together – it’s time to solve some clues! If your friends like Cluedo, you’ll love Wellington’s escape rooms. Work together to break out of a room by conquering a mix of themed puzzles, riddles and challenges within 60 minutes – as your communication and problem-solving skills are put to the test. Xcape in Lower Hutt and Escape Mate or Escape Masters in the CBD are great picks, with rooms of varying difficulties for you and your fellow spymasters to choose from.