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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.
Wellington's CBD is quite compact, so you can reach any part of it on foot. It is divided into four main districts:
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:
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.
|Avg Max||21.3 °C||21.1 °C||19.8 °C||17.3 °C||14.8 °C||12.8 °C||12 °C||12.7 °C||14.2 °C||15.9 °C||17.8 °C||19.6 °C|
|Avg Min||14.4 °C||14.3 °C||13.5 °C||11.3 °C||9.1 °C||7.3 °C||6.4 °C||6.9 °C||8.3 °C||9.7 °C||11.3 °C||13.2 °C|
|Rainfall||67 mm||48.4 mm||76.1 mm||86.8 mm||99.3 mm||113.4 mm||110.8 mm||106 mm||81.6 mm||80.8 mm||73.8 mm||74.1 mm|
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the options to rent cars include the following companies:
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.
It's easy to get around the central city on foot, as it's very compact and pedestrian-friendly.
Bicycles can be rented at several places.
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:
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.
More budget options in Wellington include:
|Base Wellington||21-23 Cambridge Terrace||Hostel||76|
|Downtown Backpackers||1 Bunny St||HOSTEL||75|
|Lodge in the City||152 Taranaki Street Te Aro||Hostel||68|
|Moana Lodge||49 Moana Road, Plimmerton Wellington||Hostel||78|
|Worldwide Backpackers||291 The Terrace||Hostel||74|
|Nomads Capital Backpackers||118 Wakefield Street PO Box 11-247||Hostel||80|
|Wellywood Backpackers||58 Tory Street||Hostel||-|
|YHA Wellington City||292 Wakefield St (Cnr Cambridge Tce)||Hostel||85|
|Quality Hotel On Thorndon||20 Glenmore Street Thorndon||Hotel||-|
|The Cambridge Hotel & Backpackers||28 Cambridge Terrace Wellington||HOSTEL||76|
|Trek Global||9 O'Reily Ave||HOSTEL||77|
|Rosemere Backpackers and Budget Lodge||6 MacDonald Crescent City||Hostel||-|
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.
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.
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.
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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