Single cart red train on track with CBD of Wellington is in the background

WellingtonTravel Guide

Wellington is often regarded as the creative heart of New Zealand and when you visit this welcoming (and windy) city it’s easy to see why. From finding inspiration on Cuba Street to sampling the exceptional craft beer or exploring world-class movie making magic at Weta Cave, Wellington’s artistic spirit will win you over. This is a city surrounded by epic scenery as well, from the twinkling harbour to the wild and wonderful hills, and the best way to experience it all it to get amongst it .If you’re planning a visit, explore our Wellington travel guide and find out how to make the most of your time in this compact-but-cool city. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have top suggestions for things to do, the best time to travel, where to stay in Wellington, getting around and more.

Wellington quick facts

Language

National language

English

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

ZAR R46.26

Local time

Saturday

7:32pm

Currency

New Zealand dollar

ZAR R1.00 = NZD $0.09

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

ZAR R274.74

Electricity

Plug type: I

3 pins • 230V

Explore Wellington

Where to stay in Wellington?

When considering where to stay in Wellington, the options roll on and on. However, there are a few major areas that remain tourist favourites for good reasons. For example, staying in Cuba Street makes sense if you want to be right in the heart of Wellington’s culture scene from daybreak to dusk. Meanwhile, Mount Cook provides a more laidback accommodation spot if you prefer peace and quiet. Of course, you can’t look past Oriental Bay if you’re hoping to hit the beach during your Wellington getaway, and Lambton Quay is a popular all-round area.

As the heart of Wellington's CBD, Lambton Quay is the perfect place to stay if retail therapy is a big part of your holiday itinerary. This area is a shopping paradise. Even if you're not desperate to shop, this popular suburb also offers close proximity to many attractions and hotels of every stripe, from five-star hotels to simple motel accommodation.


An inner-city suburb full of historic landmarks and old-world-style hotels and accommodation, Mount Cook is perfect if you prefer to be out of the CBD a little way but still want to remain reasonably close to the many attractions nearby. It's also a wonderful place to base yourself if you're looking to head into the hills.


This area is not only central but also home to some of the fanciest hotels in the city. Cuba Street is one of the most desirable places to stay in Wellington due to its popularity as a social precinct and its proximity to local tourist attractions. There will be quirky shops and cafes practically on your doorstep, and you'll often pass local buskers on the way back to your hotel.


Beach lovers need only apply. The perfect place to stay in Wellington if you like throwing open the doors of your hotel room in the morning and heading straight down to the seaside, Oriental Bay is filled with hotels to suit any budget. It's still quite central despite being to the city's north, so staying in Oriental Bay also keeps you close to most city attractions.


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Small red shed on snowy mountain top
    • Sealion looking back on rock with waves crashing in background
    • Distant view of city skyline in Wellington
  • Small red shed on snowy mountain top
    Small red shed on snowy mountain top
    Small red shed on snowy mountain top
  • Sealion looking back on rock with waves crashing in background
    Sealion looking back on rock with waves crashing in background
    Sealion looking back on rock with waves crashing in background
  • Distant view of city skyline in Wellington
    Distant view of city skyline in Wellington
    Distant view of city skyline in Wellington

Things to do in Wellington

Finding things to do in Wellington is blissfully easy. Nestled as it is between mountains and the seaside, the city prides itself on having a little bit of everything – from hiking to sailing, from adventure to relaxation. Wellington is also the beating heart of New Zealand’s art and culture scene, meaning it’s a hive of creativity and home to some of the best attractions in the entire country.

One of the most ambitious conservation projects every embarked upon, Zealandia is a 225ha slab of land in Wellington that has been entirely fenced off to protect native wildlife (including little spotted kiwis, black shags, spotted skinks, and Wellington green geckos). While open to the public as an attraction, Zealandia has a 500-year plan to return this section of land to the way it was before humans existed.


Are you a fan of The Lord of the Rings? If so, the Weta Cave is a must-visit for you. Home to the world-famous special effects house Weta Workshop, as well as one of New Zealand's biggest film production facilities, this will be an important stop for anyone looking to learn more about how the films were made.


One of Wellington's oldest buildings, Old St Paul's Cathedral in Thorndon is an important stop if you're interested in local history – especially if you find architecture fascinating. Steeped in heritage, Old St Paul's is a Wellington institution that provides a beautiful window into life and design at the turn of the 20th century.


Located in the Wellington Botanic Gardens, the Space Place at Carter Observatory is a must-visit attraction if you have a love (or even a mild interest) for astronomy and the cosmos. The centre runs multiple exhibits and programs, providing one of the most mind-expanding ways to spend an afternoon in the beautiful Botanic Gardens.


Located on Queens Wharf at Jervois Quay, the Wellington Museum provides a first-hand history of the founding and growth of Wellington as a city. If you have an interest in local history, you won't want to miss getting to visit this iconic Wellington institution, which still stands in a heritage building designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere back in 1892.


The Wellington Cable Car provides some of the best views of the city, embarking from Lambton Quay and heading up into the hills to the suburb of Kelburn. At the top, step onto the outdoor viewing platform to enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the city and harbour. This is an enjoyably cruisy way to get a bird's-eye view of the city.


If you're staying in the CBD but still want to hit the beach, Wellington's Oriental Bay is the perfect spot for a dip. Picturesque waterfront views, a wide array of cafes and restaurants along the shoreline, and plenty of space on the sand for getting some sun all make it a favourite beachside destination for locals and visitors alike.


The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is New Zealand's national museum and art gallery, home to many hundreds of artefacts and artworks painted and sculpted by homegrown Kiwi artists. Known by the locals simply as Te Papa, its full name translates loosely as ‘the place of treasures of this land'.


The City Gallery Wellington is recognised for being a significant contributor to Wellington's perception as the arts and culture capital of New Zealand, with hundreds of artworks by local artists adorning its many halls. Regular rotating exhibits spotlight specific artists and give them a platform to communicate with an audience.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Wellington travel tips

Having some Wellington travel tips up your sleeve can help you arrive feeling comfortable and confident. With that said, there’s really not much to worry about when travelling to New Zealand – from the language to the power plugs, nearly everything will seem quite familiar. In fact, if it weren’t for the colder weather, the surrounding scenery and the local accent, you could almost trick yourself into thinking you were still at home!If you do have any questions or concerns about travelling to Wellington, don’t hesitate to contact your Flight Centre travel expert. 

If you're a permanent Australian resident or citizen with a current Australian passport, you needn't worry about applying for a New Zealand visa. Just show your passport! For the most up to date information, head to the New Zealand government website for more details.


The lack of potential culture shock in Wellington extends to eating and drinking. Most New Zealand food is quite similar to what you can get at home. The only slight difference you might encounter is in the pronunciation of certain dishes – you'll see what we mean if you order fish and chips, for example!


Good news: you can leave your universal adapter at home. The electrical plugs in Wellington, and throughout New Zealand, are identical to the ones we have in Australia. This means charging your phone, laptop and camera is never an issue – as long as you remember to pack the right cords!


Located in the city's north, Wellington Airport may be your first real glimpse of the North Island up close as you fly in (if you're arriving direct from Australia). The terminal is quite simple to navigate, so it's easy to enter and exit once on the ground. Your great Wellington adventure begins right here! Wellington is known as ‘The Windy City', so don't be alarmed if your landing is a little bumpy.


New Zealand uses a dollar system very similar to our own. Even their coins and banknotes come in the same denominations as those used in Australia, although they haven't had 5c coins since 2006. The NZ dollar is typically worth slightly less than the AU dollar, so expect to get back a little bit more than you give when you exchange.


Just like at home, tipping is rarely expected in New Zealand. If anything, a tip here is simply a way to say thank you to someone (e.g. a waiter or taxi driver) who has gone above and beyond for you. Never feel pressured to leave a tip in Wellington, but don't be embarrassed to do so if you wish – it'll just be a pleasant surprise!


There's no language barrier for Australians travelling to Wellington. English is the primary language used here and generally throughout New Zealand. However, you may encounter examples of the native Maori tongue during your stay. If you hear an unfamiliar word in a day-to-day conversation between locals, ask politely and they'll likely be happy to translate.


Flights to Wellington

Wellington food and drink

Plenty of cities would love to claim they have the best culinary standards in New Zealand, but the Wellington food and drink scene takes (and bakes) the cake. Enjoy fine dining at restaurants owned by world-renowned chefs, treat yourself to a laidback night on the town, venture through Wellington’s excellent food markets, or embrace the warm aroma of a well-brewed cup from a quaint cafe. Each meal and beverage here will impress your inner foodie and your inner coffee connoisseur, and the variety of options available means no craving has to go unsatisfied.

The city's fine-dining scene attracts high-profile chefs from all over the world, making Wellington restaurant precincts a cut above all others in New Zealand. No matter what you're in the mood for, from a simple burger to a dazzling five-course meal, Wellington will have a restaurant for you. If you're not sure where to begin your culinary quest, make your way to delightful Cuba Street.


It's frequently chilly in Wellington, so the locals don't mess around when it comes to coffee. Consistently ranked among the best in New Zealand, Wellington cafes aren't just fabulous. They're also everywhere, and they all work hard to outdo each other. If you love your coffee or live in a cafe-filled locale, you'll quickly feel like Wellington is a home away from home.


In keeping with the area's laidback lifestyle, Wellington bars and nightlife are a great way to have an exciting night out without going overboard. From classic pubs and beer gardens to upmarket cocktail bars and lounges, there's an indulgent yet peaceful night out waiting for you in the city.


The people here appreciate the simple pleasure of fresh food. Nowhere is this more obvious than at Wellington's food markets. Shop with the chefs at Moore Wilson's market, explore Wellington's oldest market, the Harbourside Market, and indulge in flavours of Asia at the Wellington Night Market. Plus, the locals are as vibrant as the items they sell – come for the food, stay for the atmosphere.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Wellington through your eyes

Where to shop in Wellington?

In New Zealand’s primary cultural hub, art – in all its forms – is abundant, and this extends effortlessly to Wellington’s shopping scene. After all, fashion is just wearable art, is it not? Shopping in Wellington is especially enjoyable for the fashion-forward. Whether you prefer bargain hunting or more indulgent retail therapy, you’ll have no shortage of stores to explore. From designer outlets with vast storefronts to sprawling upmarket shopping centres to smaller independent boutiques, there are so many places to find a new holiday outfit or to grab that perfect Wellington souvenir.

In Wellington, markets are one of the city's favourite ways to shop. As fans of oddities and eccentricities, the locals descend every weekend on the many markets that dot the city, from the Wellington Underground Market on Jervois Quay to the Wellington Night Market in Te Aro. If you're not sure what to buy in Wellington to commemorate your holiday, the markets will help you make up your mind!


The area that held the crown of most affluent shopping district prior to Cuba Street's proliferation, the Golden Mile is how the locals colloquially refer to Lambton Quay. A historic inner-city arcade, the Golden Mile remains one of the most popular retail thoroughfares in Wellington and is now home to a collection of both designer outlets and independent local businesses.


Cuba Street is Wellington's most affluent shopping district. Filled with upmarket designer outlets and department stores, Cuba Street ranks among the most popular Wellington shopping centres for good reason. This is the first place any fashion-conscious traveller should venture to when it's time for some retail therapy. Your new favourite ensemble awaits!


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Wellington?

Weather in Wellington is very unpredictable due to its location at the southern tip of the North Island. However, as the locals say, “You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.” This is entirely true – on a beautiful, sunny day when the temperature is just right, Wellington is an incredible place to be. The only problem is you never know when one of those days will turn up or how many you might get during your stay! Wellington has also been dubbed ‘The Windy City’ due to its frequent buffeting by winds blowing north from the Antarctic.

Widely considered the best time to travel to Wellington, summer is the city's warmest and sunniest time of year on average. Well, it's ‘warm' for the locals, anyway! Australian visitors may be surprised to know that during summer in Wellington, a high of 19 or 20°C constitutes an especially warm day. This shouldn't deter you from hitting the beach though! Appropriate clothing: A bit of everything – warm and cold clothes. Don't forget: Sunscreen.


Winter sees the temperature drop dramatically down to averages below 8°C. Positioned as it is between the North Island and South Island, Wellington tends to see a lot of Antarctic wind blowing in during this period, though the Wellington rainfall backs off. You may find this the perfect time to get a hike in while the rain recedes! Appropriate clothing: Warm clothing with multiple layers Don't forget: Clothes the wind can't cut through.


Autumn generally sees the Wellington temperature begin its descent into colder territory, tumbling from 15°C at summer's end down to around 8 or 9°C prior to winter. Autumn is also generally the rainiest time of year, which means it's a great time to take advantage of Wellington's many museums and galleries. Appropriate clothing: Something warm and waterproof Don't forget: An umbrella.


Of all the Wellington seasons, spring is the one that seems like a mixture of all the others. The temperature rises to about 15°C or so, the winter wind continues, but the autumn rains also return. This may sound like it could hamper your outdoor plans, but this isn't necessarily the case. Spring weather is unpredictable, so make the most of the sun while you can! Appropriate clothing: Warm clothes. Don't forget: An umbrella.


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How to get around Wellington

Arranging Wellington transport is fairly simple given its relatively small size compared to other world cities. Getting around still requires some planning, but most destinations in the city are easy to get to. During your stay, you’ll have a solid network of trains, buses and ferries to help you get from A to B. Alternatively, you might like to hire a bicycle for navigating the city, or you may often find that where you want to go next is within easy walking distance anyway! After all, this is a stunning city to explore on foot.

Like every major city in the world, Wellington has its fair share of local taxis. Wellington taxis are the most direct way to get around if you're in a hurry or you'd prefer transport that's more private. Thankfully, because the city isn't very large, fares remain quite reasonable for most trips. Ride-sharing companies like Uber also operate in Wellington.


Given its smaller size, walking Wellington is one of the best ways to see the city up close and at your own pace. If you're looking to stay fit while on holiday, walking Wellington is one of the best ways to do so thanks to its hilly terrain – just remember to pack your best walking shoes!


Getting around on Wellington public transport is easy. Grab yourself a Metlink card from your nearest convenience store and top it up with prepaid credit as you need to. Metlink cards function the same way Opal or Myki cards do, giving you access to the vast majority of public transport with one handy way to pay.


Jumping on a bike is another fantastic way to see Wellington at an unhurried pace. To use the Wellington bike hire service, just locate one of the city bike racks around the city, rent one of the bikes currently parked there, and ride to your destination. Helmets are included free – just drop yours off when you arrive at the next rack.


Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

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What are the best parks in Wellington?

Ensconced as it is between the mountains and the sea, the city is blessed with natural wonders on all sides – but there are also myriad Wellington parks to admire within the metropolis itself. This makes it the ideal holiday destination if you’re yearning to get back to nature. From towering mountain hikes to walking trails in the many verdant parks that dot the city, you’ll have a hard time narrowing down which outdoor haven to explore first. Whether you prefer tame gardens or rugged wilderness, you’ll have no trouble relaxing among the greenery of Wellington and its surrounds.

The Wellington Botanic Garden in Kelburn is a 25ha park dedicated to the conservation and study of local and international flora. Filled with walking trails and open areas for picnics and gatherings, the Botanic Gardens are one of Wellington's most iconic sites. As a pleasant bonus, the Carter Observatory is located here as well.


Otari-Wilton's Bush is a botanic garden that is unique in that it's dedicated entirely to indigenous New Zealand plants. While most botanic gardens feature flora from around the world, Otari-Wilson's Bush is committed solely to educating guests on the beauty and splendour of the plants you can only find in this part of the world.


Quite a way out of the city, located between Lower Hutt and Porirua, lies Belmont Regional Park. Belmont is perfect if you'd love to get right into the heart of beautiful North Island mountain scenery. The one-of-a-kind New Zealand landscape rolls away in every direction and walking trails allow you to take in the best of it.


If you're looking for a proper hike with a big reward, the Mount Victoria Lookout high above the city offers the best seats in the house. Go up on a clear day and witness one of the most beautiful vistas New Zealand has to offer, from mountains to the sea. If you're not feeling overly energetic, you can drive most of the way up too.


Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Wellington Frequently asked questions

Wellington is a hilly city, so expect to do a lot of walking. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes because nothing ruins an adventure quite like ill-fitting footwear and blisters! The rest of your packing list will depend on the time of year you plan travel and your proposed itinerary.


Compact but incredibly diverse, the hardest part will be trying to narrow down your to-do list. Some of Wellington's urban highlights include Martinborough, a tiny town famous for wining and dining, and Petone, a seaside suburb with a lively atmosphere and plenty to explore. Greytown is a quaint historic town known for its Victorian architecture, while nature lovers will be drawn to the rural town of Ōtaki (for its excellent hiking) and Kāpiti Island, a nature reserve that is home to some of New Zealand's most endangered birds and marine life. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, Wellington is bursting with incredible places.


Life happens - we get it! Read more here.


If it’s blissful sun-drenched days and outdoor festivals you seek, summer (December to February) is prime time. The autumn months (March to May) are relatively mild, making them ripe for outdoor adventures including hiking and exploring Wellington’s stunning scenery. Winter (June to August) is traditionally cold and windy with rainfall likely, so unless you plan to spend most of your time indoors by the fire, perhaps wait until spring (September to November) when things thaw out a little and the city is blooming with cherry blossoms.


Wellington is renowned for its creative heart, so be sure to spend some time wandering around the city or riding the Wellington Cable Car taking it all in. For incredible views over the city, head to Mount Victoria Lookout, and foodies, be sure to visit Hannahs Laneway to sample some local culinary delights. In need of a pick-me-up? You’re in luck, Wellington is New Zealand’s coffee capital so there are plenty of good brews (of the caffeine kind as well as the beer kind) to be found. The Lord of the Rings fans can step into Middle-earth and on a movie tour, and for a dose of culture, head to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Wine lovers, just one hour’s drive from Wellington is where you will find Wairarapa, one of New Zealand’s most loved wine regions. Bottoms up!


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