How to Get Around Wellington
Getting around Wellington’s capital city and surrounding districts is made easy with the extensive bus and train network. There are even a few public transport surprises in Wellington including its historic cable car and the trolleybuses in use around the city centre. Wellington’s trolleybuses are the last in Oceania and the last to be driving on the left. Impress your mates with that piece of trivia… (Or get completely ridiculed).
To pay for most public transport in Wellington you’ll either need cash or the correct stored value card (there are different cards for different operators, but Snapper is used on the most services). Fares are determined by zones, which is based on the distance of travel. The more zones you travel through the higher the fare. Be aware that when changing a vehicle on your journey, there is usually an additional charge unless you have purchased a transfer ticket.
So follow the Wellington public transport guide below to see how to get around. Plus, find a place to stay in The 50 Best Accommodations in Wellington.
Wellington’s Public Transport Smartcards
Smartcards are Wellington’s answer to not having to carry change around with you and, most importantly, for you to save around 20% of the fare. Because there are different public transport companies operating in Wellington, most of them have their own smartcard. If you are using public transport to travel the same route often, it might be worth purchasing a smartcard.
The current smartcards available in Wellington include:
- Snapper cards (GoWellington, Valley Flyer, Runcimans, Airport Flyer)
- Mana Coach Services Smartcard
- Newlands Coach ServicesSmartcard
- Madge/Uzabus Express Card
- Tranzit a.to.b card
Buses in Wellington
It’s fair to say that the bus network in Wellington is the most extensive with more than 100 bus routes throughout the region! Here are the basics of what you need to know:
City Centre Buses
These are the yellow GoWellington branded buses operating across the city centre and inner suburbs. Many of these services use a trolleybus with overhead wires (which often disconnect with much annoyance to the drivers). Find out what to do in the city centre in 10 Wellington Must-Dos.
Hutt Valley Buses
The Valley Flyer services between Upper Hutt and Wellington city centre. The major stops in between include Lower Hutt, Eastbourne, Stokes Valley, Petone and Wainuiomata. Find out what to do in the Hutt Valley in the 11 Excellent Things to Do in the Hutt Valley.
Porirua and Kapiti Coast Buses
Manu Coach Services operate many of the bus services from Porirua and along the Kapiti Coast. There are regular commuter services between Porirua, Whitby, Titahi Bay, Johnsonville, Tawa, Paraparaumu, Raumati and Waikanae. Find out what to do in Kapiti in 10 Must-Dos on the Kapiti Coast.
The Airport Flyer connects Wellington Airport to the city centre, Queensgate and Lower Hutt. Find the Airport Flyer at the southern end of the airport terminal, level 0.
Train Services in Wellington
The trains in Wellington are the fastest way of getting between Wellington Station and its surrounding districts.
Hutt Valley Line (HVL): Upper Hutt Station – Wallaceville Station – Trentham Station – Heretaunga Station – Silverstream Station – Manor Park Station – Pomare Station – Taita Station – Wingate Station – Naenae Station – Epuni Station – Waterloo Station – Woburn Station – Ava Station – Petone Station – Ngauranga Station – Wellington Station
Johnsonville Line (JVL): Johnsonville Station – Raroa Station – Khandallah Station – Box Hill Station – Simla Crescent Station – Awarua Street Station – Ngaio Station – Crofton Downs Station – Wellington Station
Kapiti Line (KPL): Waikanae Station – Paraparaumu Station – Paekakariki Station – Pukerua Bay Station – Plimmerton Station – Mana Station – Paremata Station – Porirua Station – Kenepuru Station – Linden Station – Tawa Station – Redwood Station – Takapu Road Station – Wellington Station
Melling Line (MEL): Melling Station – Western Hutt Station – Petone Station – Ngauranga Station – Wellington Station
Wairarapa Line (WRL): Masterton Station – Renall Street Station – Solway Station – Carterton Station – Matarawa Station – Woodside Station – Featherston Station – Maymorn Station – Upper Hutt Station – Waterloo Station – Petone Station – Wellington Station
Ferry in Wellington
Other than the ferry which runs to and from the South Island (find out more in Ferry Between the North Island and South Island), there is a ferry that runs across the Wellington Harbour Ferry.
The 20-minute ferry journey goes between Queens Wharf in Wellington city centre and Bays Bay wharf, 30 minutes if calling in at Matiu Somes Island on the way, or 40 minutes if stopping at SeatounWharf.
Wellington Cable Car
The Wellington Cable Car is a novelty tourist “must-do” meets public transport. The historic cable car takes passengers from the busy Lambton Quay to the peaceful Botanic Gardens in Kelburn, offering great views of Wellington on the way up.
For people using it as transport, you can hop on/off the cable car at these stops: Kelburn, Salamanca, Talavera, Clifton and Lambton Quay.
Cable cars run every 10 minutes between 7am-10pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am-10pm Saturday, and 8.30am-9pm Sunday.
We, backpackers, try to avoid using taxis as much as possible, as they are not the most cost-effective method of transport. However, their convenience and the fact that you can find taxis operating 24 hours a day sometimes trumps the cost of them.
For more information on Wellingtons taxi services, check out Wellington Cab Fares: Taxi Prices in Wellington.