Wellington, New Zealand: A Travellers Guide To The Coolest Little Capital
January 1, 1970
by Tasha Amy
Said to be a small version of Melbourne, New Zealand’s capital is one which boasts an amazing city culture. Whether you are interested in food, artwork, shopping, adventure or nature, Wellington offers something for everyone all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes to traverse this harbour side location and be prepared for a day full of walking.
First thing first, How do I get to Wellington?
Chances are if you are travelling to New Zealand you will be arriving in Auckland, and you will be in the country to either explore the beautiful South Island (Queenstown, Wanaka, Christchurch) or to explore the upper half of the North Island (Auckland, Rotorua, Taupo). These are all beautiful regions to explore, but unfortunately these popular routes do not include Wellington. The city of Wellington is a little bit like the younger Kardashians-Jenner sisters when compared to the more tourist populated towns, it is a lot less explored and ventured, unlike its older, more established relatives, though contains a youthful attitude which will capture your attention. There are numerous flights per day from Auckland and with it only taking an hour in the sky there is really no excuse, so book it here and don’t be too surprised when there is a mountain outside your window, that’s just Mt Ruapehu standing proud at over 9000 ft. Now, if you have a more leisurely trip planned I highly recommend you bus and explore more of NZ while you are at it. Mana and Naked Bus companies provide an excellent service, cheap prices and if you’re looking you travel extensively throughout the country they offer a ‘passport’ giving you a maximum amount of rides for a good set price.
Now you’re here, Where do I stay?
Accommodation in Wellington varies widely depending on what you are looking for. Being a city full of business people, students and hippie crowds it caters for everyone and if you do have a far amount of cash lying around stay at the Museum Art Hotel, it is absolutely beautiful or book into one of the many hotels which line the streets down Lambton Quay in the business area. Though, if you are more like me and like to stay in hostels and meet new people there are numerous hostels just off manners street and expect to pay around NZD$25 per night. For something a little more between these two options, booking through airbnb is an excellent option, though if you don’t want to take any risks stay somewhere with good reviews and live like a local.
Getting hungry, Where are the foodie hot spots?
Once again there are honestly so many amazing places to eat at around Wellington. If you do have a higher budget go for a walk on the waterfront and stop in somewhere for a meal with an astonishing view, from Italian, Japanese and European cuisine all taste buds will be satisfied. Also keep an eye out for stingrays lurking in the waters underneath the pathways as I can personally say I have seen a decent amount, and a couple extremely large ones as well. If you are after some ‘fush and chups’ head straight down Courtney Place towards Mount Victoria where you will find the Mount Vic Chippery, some of the best of this iconic kiwi food I have ever had. Now for those saving their money pay a visit to the little eateries in Left Bank off Cuba Street. Here you can find some extremely cheap eats like $6 curries with rice which actually taste good and also pay a visit to the Night Markets held on a Friday at this location for amazing cheap food from all over the world, you definitely wont regret it. The last place I will mention for a good food deal is Chow, just off Courtney Place on Tory Street, check them out on a Monday for delicious fresh Asian main at two for one prices. Seriously, the food scene in Wellington is incredible, so much that they even have their own event ‘Wellington on a Plate’ held during August, which is a must for any foodie.
Out and About, How do I get around?
Wellington is a super compact city which makes it perfect for any traveller as all amenities and attractions are within a reasonable distance of each other. If you are not planning to travel outside the Central Wellington City area then basically all you need is a decent pair of shoes, everything is in walking distance and the only time you would really need a car or taxi is when it is the end of the day and your calf muscles are too sore to go any further. If you plan on getting out of the city, I recommend this if you are a nature lover as there are some pretty cool attractions, the cheapest and easiest way would be to take the bus. Purchase a snapper card (yes, like the fish) and top that up with enough money to get around, prices between locations will depend on distance travelled and more detailed information on busses within Wellington can be found here.
Ready for an adventure, What to do?
For those wanting to relax:
- Take a walk along the water front to Te Papa. In a massive modern museum it is impossible to miss and home to many collections and galleries it will keep you entertained all day, it is also free so even better !
- Visit Oriental Beach. On a beautiful day this sandy beach is the perfect way to relax, just a short walk out of the city centre you will soon find yourself tanning and enjoying the day
- Take the Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens. The cable car is an iconic way to travel in wellington and will give you great views of the city from the hills.
For an adventure:
- Along the waterfront you will find Fergs Kayaks. Here you can hire bike or roller-skates and go explore Wellington city at a different speed. There are also kayaks and paddle boards to venture around the harbour. Lastly, there is a massive rock climbing wall inside the building for a variety of levels so if you like a challenge this one is for you.
- Adrenalin Forest is a high wire confidence course which will see you up to 31 metres off the ground. It is twenty minutes out of the city by car, though if you do not have access to a car, you can take the train to Porirua then walk approximately twenty minutes next to the highway (there is a footpath) and is so worth it.
For the nature lover:
- Zealandia Sanctuary is located in Kaori, slightly out of the city centre and is a must for anyone wishing to learn about New Zealand birds. They are committed to protecting the local species which you will spot along the bushwalk.
- Wellington Zoo can be reached by taking a bus which stops right outside. Bring comfortable shoes as in this zoo you will be walking up and down hills the whole time, but they have an excellent range of animals with daily talks and feedings.
- The southern Wellington coast line is home to many seals who enjoy lying back and relaxing in the sun. The seals are relatively use to human visitors and as long as you give them a reasonable distance they will have no problem with you exploring their habitat alongside them. There are a two different ways you can get out of the city and visit the seals, the more expensive option is to book a tour, I can personally recommend Seal Coast Safari Tours as they have excellent knowledgeable staff and you will see more animals than just the seals, though at NZD$125 per person it is quite pricey. The second option is to either hire a car, though this could very easily get stuck in the rocky sand or to bus to Owhrio Bay and do the Red Rocks Walkway which will take you half way and keep following the shore line until you arrive, this option would take a full day.
Wellington is definitely the world coolest capital and once you visit you will understand why it has been given this title. From the many eateries and restaurants in the beautiful waterfront location, the never-ending list of activities and attractions, the nightlife and lastly the artwork hidden within the city walls you will find yourself in awe of the captivating sights.