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Wellington

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Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia New Zealand North Island Wellington Region Wellington

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Introduction

Mural in Wellington

Mural in Wellington

© All Rights Reserved steff

New Zealand's capital Wellington is not the country's largest city (that honour goes to Auckland), but it's a vibrant city with a thriving café scene and many great museums, galleries and music venues.

"Windy Wellington" is set along the Cook Strait at the south-western tip of North Island. It's a steep, packed city; activity is centered around the CBD, where a large proportion of Wellingtonians work.

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Neighbourhoods

Wellington's CBD is quite compact, so you can reach any part of it on foot. It is divided into four main districts:

  • Courtenay Quarter - The city's nightlife is centered around Courtenay Place. This is also a central hub for the public bus system, including the airport bus service.
  • Cuba Quarter - Adjacent to Courtenay Quarter, Cuba Quarter harbours a vast number of restaurants, cafés and bars. Walk up the pedestrian-only section of Cuba Street or the pedestrian-only stretch of Manners Street and soak in the atmosphere.
  • Lambton Quarter - Centered around Lambton Quay, a popular street for shoppers.
  • Waterfront - You can walk along the waterfront from Whitmore Street to Oriental Parade. Along the way, you'll pass the Events Centre, Museum of Wellington City and Sea, Frank Kitts Park and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, ending up at the marina.

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Sights and Activities

Museums

  • Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) is New Zealand's national museum and can be found on Wellington's waterfront. This museum has amazing exhibits on the history, art and culture of New Zealand.
  • Museum of Wellington City & Sea is located on the Jervois Quay on the waterfront in the historic Bond Store. This museum was originally the Wellington Maritime Museum. Today it has expanded its collection to include much more. Open: 10:00am to 5:00pm, Admission: Free.
  • Katherine Mansfield Birthplace was originally the home to one of New Zealand's most famous writers, Katherine Mansfield, today it is a museum dedicated to her life.
  • The Colonial Cottage Museum is located in the suburb of Mount Cook. This cottage was built in 1858 and is considered Wellington's oldest building. The museum is dedicated to the early colonial life of New Zealand's founders.
  • New Zealand Cricket Museum is a great place to learn all about New Zealand's history and love for cricket.
  • City Gallery is a good place to check out a current exhibition. The gallery is located at 101 Wakefield in the Civic Square. Open daily 10:00am to 5:00pm except during exhibition changeovers and Christmas Day.

Drama and Dance

  • New Zealand Ballet is a good place watch some classical dance at world class theatre.
  • St James' Theatre features plays and operas from classical writers to modern writers.
  • Downstage Theatre is a great place to see some more contemporary New Zealand drama.
  • Bats Theatre - if you want to see the more experimental side of drama, then this small theatre is the place for you. The theatre has a small backstage area making it possible for it to run multiple plays at the same time year round.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Wellington Cable Car and Cable Car Museum offer a scenic journey from Wellington's CBD up to the top of the Botanic Gardens. Then check out the museum and learn about the history of cable cars.
  • Old St Paul's - Visit this wonderful Anglican Church that was built in 1865. Remember to look at the wooden structure and stained glass windows from the inside.
  • New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is a great place to listen to some amazing classical music.
  • Archives New Zealand houses a collection of New Zealand heritage documents.
  • Wellington's Waterfront - Stroll along the coast and watch the boats go by.
  • Wellington Law School is the largest wooden building in the whole southern hemisphere.
  • Westpac Stadium is the place to catch a football, cricket or rugby game, depending on the time of year.
  • Wellington Zoo - Spend a day looking at the animals at this wonderful zoo. Open: 9:30 am to 5:00pm everyday except Christmas. Admission: Adult; $15, Children 3 to 16; $7.50, Under 3 free, there are also concessions and group deals. Address: 200 Daniell Street, Newton, Wellington.
  • Karori Sanctuary - A few minutes outside Wellington is this sanctuary, which seeks to provide a realistic image of what life in New Zealand was like before human settlement.
  • Botanic Gardens - Rising on the west above Lambton Quarter are the Botanic Gardens, 25 hectares of native flora overlooking the city and harbour. You can walk to it, catch the cable car from Cable Car Lane, or take bus 3.
  • New Zealand Parliament Tour - Free, daily tours of the Parliament buildings, lasting around one hour. Try to book ahead.

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Events and Festivals

Wellington regularly has sporting, theatre, music and dance events, so be sure to check this website to find out what's on while you're there.

Some of the notable festivals to keep an eye out for:

  • Summer City Festival Wellington runs from December 31 through to mid-March, featuring live music, sports events and much more.
  • Fringe Festival runs from mid February to early March. Sample the best of New Zealand art, dance, theatre, music and comedy.
  • Hertz Sevens is a two-day festival at Westpac Stadium in which 16 international rugby teams battle it out. This happens in early February.
  • Capital E! is a two-week arts festival for kids held in the 2nd and 3rd week of March.
  • JimBeam Homegrown: Enjoy New Zealand's best bands and DJs, performing early March along the waterfront.

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Weather

The city averages 2,059 hours of sunshine per year. The climate is temperate marine, is generally moderate all year round, and rarely sees temperatures above 25 °C or below 4 °C. The hottest recorded temperature is 31.1 °C (88 °F), while -1.1 °C is the coldest. The city is notorious for its southerly blasts in winter, which may make the temperature feel much colder. It is generally very windy all year round with high rainfall; average annual rainfall is 1,244 mm, June and July being the wettest months. Frosts are quite common in the hill suburbs and the Hutt Valley between May and September. Snow is very rare at low altitudes, although snow fell on the city and many other parts of the Wellington region during separate events in July and August 2011.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max21.3 °C21.1 °C19.8 °C17.3 °C14.8 °C12.8 °C12 °C12.7 °C14.2 °C15.9 °C17.8 °C19.6 °C
Avg Min14.4 °C14.3 °C13.5 °C11.3 °C9.1 °C7.3 °C6.4 °C6.9 °C8.3 °C9.7 °C11.3 °C13.2 °C
Rainfall67 mm48.4 mm76.1 mm86.8 mm99.3 mm113.4 mm110.8 mm106 mm81.6 mm80.8 mm73.8 mm74.1 mm

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Getting There

By Plane

Wellington International Airport is a small airport, but there are several international flights as well as a growing number of domestic flights. Air New Zealand flies to Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Nadi (Fiji). Air Nelson flies to Nelson, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Hamilton, Napier, Rotorua, Westport and Invercargill. Eagle Airways flies to Whangarei, Whakatane, Gisborne, Taupo, Wanganui, Palmerston North, Nelson, Blenheim, Westport and Timaru and Mount Cook Airline (part of Air New Zealand) flies to Hamilton, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin

Other airlines include Air2there (Blenheim, Nelson, Paraparaumu), Air Chathams (Tuuta on the Chatham Islands), Sounds Air (Blenheim, Kaikoura, Nelson, Picton, Capital Air (Takaka), Virgin Australia (Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch, Sydney), Qantas (Melbourne, Sydney), Jetstar Airways (Auckland, Christchurch) and Capital Air (Takaka, seasonal only).

By Train

The Overlander travels between Wellington and Auckland daily during December to April. Off season the Overlander travels on friday, saturday and sundays.

The Capital Connection travels from Palmerston North every weekday morning and returns evenings.

Tranz Metro provides frequent daily trains from the Wairarapa and the Kapiti Coast.

By Car

Two main roads lead into Wellington from the rest of North Island. Highway number 2 leads from Wellington to Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Masterton, and continuing north to Napier. Highway 1 runs parallel to the west coast of southern North Island to Palmerston North.

If you're coming from South Island, you can drive to Picton and take your car on the ferry with you.

By Bus

There are many different long-distance bus providers which operate to and from Wellington. All are listed on the Bus and Coach Association New Zealand website. The two main nationwide bus companies are Intercity and Nakedbus.

By Boat

Interislander operates a regular ferry service between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island. Bluebridge also operates between the North (Wellington) and South Islands (Picton) with up to four sailings a day between the two cities.

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Getting Around

By Car

Some of the options to rent cars include the following companies:

By Public Transport

MetLink provides full information about routes and fares about Wellington's public transport system.
Wellington city itself has an extensive network of buses, including a significant number of routes served by electric trolleybuses. Excellent and free network maps and route timetables and maps are available from locations throughout town, including the main visitor centre in Civic Square, the Central Library, and many convenience stores. Being a rather linear city, the heart of Wellington is heavily served by the central bus corridor between the Railway Station and Courtenay Place. Nearly all lines run along this section, so you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes to catch a ride.

The train is the best form of public transport between the central city and Johnsonville, as well as the Hutt Valley, Porirua and the Kapiti Coast - although you do have to walk from Melling or Western Hutt, or catch a bus from Petone or Waterloo (Hutt Central) stations to central Lower Hutt's CBD. Services run half-hourly on the Hutt Valley, Kapiti and Johnsonville lines seven days a week, and hourly on the Melling line on weekdays. At peak times, services run much more frequently.

The Kelburn cable car is a Wellington icon. It provides a regular service between Lambton Quay and Kelburn. The Wellington city terminal is at the end of Cable Car Lane, just off Lambton Quay, near the intersection with Grey Street. The Kelburn terminal is at the end of Upland Road by an entrance to the Botanic Gardens.

The Eastbourne ferry service, which provides regular services between Queens Wharf and Days Bay in Eastbourne, also stops at Somes Island most trips.

By Foot

It's easy to get around the central city on foot, as it's very compact and pedestrian-friendly.

By Bike

Bicycles can be rented at several places.

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Eat

Wellington has a lot of restaurants and cafés, in fact more cafés, bars and restaurants per head than New York City. Malaysian food is surprisingly popular and available in most areas. You can also get good Turkish kebabs anywhere in the city, or Lebanese at the Phoenician Falafel on Kent Terrace (their kebabs are better than all the Turkish places too). Fish and chips is the best value food and you usually get better quality in the suburbs.

Many of the best cafés and restaurants are centered around Cuba Street, Manners Street and Courtenay Place. Here are a few specific suggestions:

  • Great India Restaurant, 141 Manners Street. Phone: (04) 384 5755. Serves excellent authentic Indian food at a reasonable price. Their naan is great.
  • Goblin Café, James Smiths Corner. Phone: (04) 471 1251. A nice café at the east end of Cuba Street. This is one of the places where you can buy prepaid CafeNet cards and use wireless internet (see Keep Connected section).
  • Abrakebabra, 90 Manners Street. Phone: (04) 473 3311. Middle Eastern food with home-made breads. Middle Eastern video hits play, adding that extra touch of authenticity.
  • Tulsi Contemporary Indian Cuisine, 135 Cuba Street. Phone: (04) 802 4144. Another great Indian restaurant. On par with Great India Restaurant. Tulsi has a cheap lunch special.
  • The Lido Cafe, 85 Victoria Street. A bustling café opposite the Wellington City Library, boasting a great range of fine loose leaf teas.

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Drink

Wellington has a bustling nightlife, concentrated along Courtenay Place, one of the major streets running from the CBD. It runs through Te Aro and ends in Mt Victoria. The nightlife causes this street to have the highest population density in all of New Zealand on Friday and Saturday nights. In most establishments, drinks are remarkably affordable at about $6, and entrance charges are either nonexistent or minimal. In some of the better clubs reasonable dress standards apply, however in the day the mood is usually extremely casual, with flip-flops (called Jandals in New Zealand) and even bare feet occasionally accepted (a common Kiwi choice on hotter days). Cuba Mall also features some cool and more alternative bars.

Away from Courtenay Place in the CBD district (Lambton Quay) there are many after work bars frequented by office workers, however this area becomes deserted in the later hours, and thus these establishments usually do not provide all night partying.

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Sleep

Budget

  • Nomads Capital, 118 Wakefield Street. Located just opposite the waterfront, this is a new hostel with great low prices.
  • Wellywood Backpackers, 58 Tory Street. In the centre of Courtenay Quarter, just off Courtenay Place. A big hostel with good facilities and friendly staff. One of the closest hostels to the central bus depot.
  • YHA Wellington City, 292 Wakefield Street (cnr Cambridge Terrace). A high quality YHA on the edge of the city centre, well within walking distance of all the main sites.

More budget options in Wellington include:

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Base Wellington21-23 Cambridge TerraceHostel76
Downtown Backpackers1 Bunny StHOSTEL75
Lodge in the City152 Taranaki Street Te AroHostel68
Moana Lodge49 Moana Road, Plimmerton WellingtonHostel78
Worldwide Backpackers291 The TerraceHostel74
Nomads Capital Backpackers118 Wakefield Street PO Box 11-247Hostel80
Wellywood Backpackers58 Tory StreetHostel-
YHA Wellington City292 Wakefield St (Cnr Cambridge Tce)Hostel85
Quality Hotel On Thorndon20 Glenmore Street ThorndonHotel-
The Cambridge Hotel & Backpackers28 Cambridge Terrace WellingtonHOSTEL76
Trek Global9 O'Reily AveHOSTEL77
Rosemere Backpackers and Budget Lodge6 MacDonald Crescent CityHostel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

If you have your own computer, you can sign up with CaféNET. This allows you to buy credit (as you would on a prepaid phone) and log on at dozens of locations around the city centre. It costs $10 for a day pass, $50 for a week, or $20 for 70MB. You can pay by credit card or buy cards over the counter at these locations.

Wi-Fi access is getting more and more common in for example coffee places or fast food chains. It is becoming more common for Wi-Fi to be provided at hotels and motels, though sometimes at a fee. Wireless Hotspots are located in many cities and towns all over New Zealand from dedicated Wireless providers from whom you can buy connect time. Many camping holiday parks also have such services available.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Dial 111 for emergency police, fire or ambulance services. The worldwide emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used.
The country code is 64.

Most payphones in New Zealand require the use of phone cards for payment and it is getting harder to find payphones that accept coins. As phone cards are available at a lot of outlets, they are easy to purchase and very handy as a backup in case of emergencies. Many of them also accept creditcards. Local calls are free from residential phones and charges for calling outside that area can be found at the front of the regional phone books, amongst many other services.

Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have huge dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call 555 only to report Non-emergency traffic safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police. There are currently three major mobile carriers in New Zealand.

  • Telecom operates a UMTS (3G) network, named XT Network, nationwide on 850MHz with supplementary 2100MHz in metropolitan areas. (the same frequencies as Telstra in Australia and AT&T in the U.S.)
  • Vodafone operates a GSM network on 900MHz/2100 MHz and a UTMS (3G) network operates nationwide 900MHz with supplementary 2100MHz coverage.
  • 2degrees operates a UMTS (3G) network (2100MHz) in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with supplementary GSM coverage provided elsewhere by Vodafone.

A prepaid sim-card connection pack with $10 credit from Telecom or Vodafone costs around $30, and prepaid sim-cards from 2degrees cost $10. Telecom has broader coverage in remote areas away from major cities compared to Vodafone and 2degrees.

Post

Most areas have dedicated PostShops, however stamps can also be bought at grocery shops, supermarkets and book stores. There are two main formats for domestic mail, namely Standard Post and Fast Post. Fast Post is used next day delivery between major towns and cities (two days from rural areas), whereas Standard Post will take a few working days to deliver nationwide. Standard costs NZ$0.50 for letters/postcards (NZ$0.80 for larger envelopes), Fast Post costs NZ$0.80 (NZ$1.20 for larger envelopes). International mail takes about 3-6 days to Australia (NZ$1.50), and 6-12 days to Europe, Asia and the United States (NZ$2). Post boxes are white, red and black and can be found in many areas throughout towns and cities, including information about when their contents are collected. Most post offices and smaller post shops have opening hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 12:30pm on Saturday. You can buy stamps here, or at newsagents and general stores. For parcels, you can use the NZ Post or otherwise courier companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -41.28648
  • Longitude: 174.776217

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This is version 41. Last edited at 13:08 on Sep 14, 16 by Utrecht. 42 articles link to this page.

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