How to Plan the Best Trip to Wellington, New Zealand
Located almost central in the islands of New Zealand, Wellington is the country’s administrative capital lovingly nicknamed the “coolest little capital”. This North Island city is a hub for art, culture and cuisine, renowned for its creativity showcased in the movie studio scene to the array of museums. While most who road trip throughout New Zealand need to visit Wellington as a necessity, for its ferry terminal to get between the North Island and the South Island, it’s well worth spending a couple of days here at the very least. Whether you’re into wine, art, shopping, exploring natural landscapes, educating your kids, romantic getaways, treating yourself to fineries or exploring on a budget, there’s something for every type of traveller in Wellington.
Let us guide you through it all with this complete travel guide to Wellington.
Common Questions About Wellington
Let’s cut to the chase; what are the most common questions travellers have about visiting Wellington?
What is Wellington Best Known For?
Wellington is known for being the capital city of New Zealand. It’s also known for its culinary scene and movie studios.
Is Wellington Worth Visiting?
Yes – Wellington is not only the capital of New Zealand but, arguably, the best city in New Zealand. So, if you’re only going to visit one, visit Wellington.
Where is Wellington Located?
Wellington is the southernmost region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is also the name of the city within the region.
What is the Weather Usually Like in Wellington?
Wellington is renowned for being one of the windiest cities in the world, so expect everchanging weather. The daily average temperature is 13°C/55.4°F, while the yearly average rainfall is 891mm/35.1″. Find out more in our guide, What is the Weather Like in Wellington?
How Do You Get to Wellington?
While Wellington has an international airport, most travellers arrive in Wellington by road from Auckland Airport or by road and ferry coming from Christchurch Airport. Find out more about flights to New Zealand in A Beginner’s Guide to Getting to New Zealand. Wellington has a vast public transport network as well as vehicle rentals. Find out more in our guides to Public Transport in Wellington and The Best Car Rental Companies in Wellington. Finally, you can get to Wellington on the national bus network, as well as by train from Auckland.
How Many Days Do You Need in Wellington?
Wellington’s city centre highlights can be done in one day, following our One Day in Wellington: City Walking Tour Itinerary. However, there is enough to do in and around Wellington for 3-5 days.
What to Do in Wellington
The world’s coolest little capital has enough to keep you going for days. The city centre is packed with boutiques, cafes and the largest museum in the country, while around and about you’ll find stunning tracts of nature at the Wellington Botanic Garden and the native bird sanctuary, Zealandia. If you don’t have long to explore, check out the One Day in Wellington: City Walking Tour Itinerary.
The Top Experiences in Wellington
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the Wellington highlights:
- Discover New Zealand’s unique ecosystem at Zealandia
- Explore the Wellington Botanic Garden
- Climb Mt Victoria
- Check out all of the 15 Best Film Locations in Wellington for Movie Buffs
- Try the coffees at the 5 Cool Cafes With the Best Coffee in Wellington
- Ride the Wellington Cable Car to the Cable Car Museum
- Feel your toes in the sand at the 10 Beaches in Wellington You Can’t Miss
- Take an awesome day trip to the Remutaka Forest Park, Kapiti Coast and more, as listed in The Best Day Trips from Wellington…
Rainy Day Activities
Even when it’s pouring in Wellington (which happens often) the fun doesn’t stop. Some things to keep you going when the wet weather arrives include:
- Visit the Te Papa Museum and the 12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington
- Take a movie-making tour of the Weta Workshop
- Try some beer at the 14 Breweries & Craft Beer Bars in Wellington.
Of course, there’s more where that came from over in the 11 Things to Do in Wellington on a Rainy Day.
Where to Stay in Wellington
Other than the accommodations we recommend on the righthand side of this complete travel guide to Wellington (or at the bottom, if you’re reading this on mobile), we have compiled entire lists of places to stay based on price, what’s best for families or a couples’ getaway, as well as premium stays. What’s more, each list is compiled by real writers; not some algorithm.
- The 50 Best Accommodations
- 10 Best Hotels
- 11 Best Backpacker Hostels
- 10 Best Budget Accommodations
- 10 Best Family Accommodations
- 10 Best Luxury Accommodations
- 10 Best Romantic Accommodations
- Wellington City: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation
- Wellington Region: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation
Wellington for Budget Travellers
Thanks to its array of free museums, art galleries, walkways and a myriad of inexpensive tours, Wellington is definitely a friendly city to those on a budget. Most of Wellington’s main attractions are either free or at least under NZ$30 so you don’t have to let go of your savings to enjoy your time here. Get inspired for a budget visit to Wellington with Wellington City – Guide for Backpackers, as well as information on the surrounding region in our Kapiti Coast – Guide for Backpackers, Wairarapa – Guide for Backpackers and Hutt Valley – Guide for Backpackers. Additionally, check out The Guide to Wellington on a Budget.
Things to Do on a Budget
- Visit the Te Papa Museum
- Check out the views from Mt Victoria
- Take the Cable Car to the Botanic Garden
- People-watch and check out the art on the Wellington Waterfront
- See the seals on the Red Rocks Walkway.
Wellington is a city of budget hotels, motels, apartments and backpacker hostels, which makes it easy to enjoy an affordable stay. For our recommendations, see the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Wellington City, as well as the 12 Best Backpacker Hostels in Wellington.
Wellington for Luxury Travellers
Wellington is well worth adding to the itinerary for a luxury getaway to New Zealand. The capital city has a good selection of premium experiences, from helicopter tours to exclusive movie studio tours, as well as city comforts for the luxury traveller, like fine dining and designer shopping. Let us guide you through the ins and outs of luxury travel in Wellington with The Luxury Guide to Wellington.
Luxurious Things to Do
- See Wellington from a helicopter tour (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Play at one of Wellington’s prestigious golf courses
- Explore Wellington’s designer boutiques
- Join a wine tour of the Wairarapa wine region with Zozo Travel (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try fine whisky at the city’s reputable whisky bars.
Find out more about each experience and much more in the 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Wellington.
Some of the world’s biggest names in hotels have an address in New Zealand’s capital. Check out where to stay in our 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Wellington.
Wellington for Families
Wellington is, for sure, a family-friendly city. New Zealand’s capital gives plenty of opportunities to learn thanks to its selection of interactive museums, as well as get outside in the parks, gardens and beaches. See what you and the kids could be getting up to, by checking out The Guide to Wellington for Families.
Things to Do with Kids
- See New Zealand birds at Zealandia Ecosanctuary
- Get active on the high-wire course at Adrenalin Forest (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Spend the day at Wellington’s beaches
- Learn about the night’s sky at Space Place
- Meet the animals and birds at Staglands Wildlife Reserve (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Find out more about each activity for families in the 10 Things to Do in Wellington with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Wellington
From upmarket hotels to budget lodges, there’s a range of family rooms found across Wellington. Check out some of our top recommendations in the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Wellington.
Wellington for Couples
Whether you’re on a honeymoon exploring New Zealand or just seeking a getaway to the big city, Wellington can make a fantastic couples’ getaway. Rain or shine, there’s a whole range of all-weather activities, from thought-provoking art galleries to quirky board game cafes. A trip to Wellington means being interactive together, learning something new and amping up your date nights. Find out more in The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Wellington.
Things to Do for Couples
- Walk hand-in-hand through the city’s Botanic Garden
- Learn something new together at the museums
- Be whisked away in the romantic helicopter tour with bubbles with Wellington Helicopters
- Challenge each other at the board game cafe or bowling alley
- Treat her to dinner at one of Wellington’s fine dining establishments.
Find out more about each experience for couples, as well as a few extras, in the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Wellington for Couples.
A romantic getaway to Wellington means staying in luxurious hotels or well-appointed budget hotel rooms perfect for couples. See some of our top recommended accommodation for couples in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodations in Wellington.
Wellington for Foodies
There’s no doubt about it: people who travel for food have to have Wellington on the itinerary! The city is the host of one of New Zealand’s largest food events, Wellington on a Plate, which means that the local artisans and restaurants are always coming up with new and creative culinary experiences. From hotels with amazing restaurants to artisanal factory tours, there’s so much to do for the foodie in Wellington. Learn more in The Food Guide to Wellington: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Things to Do for Foodies
- Check out the craft beer breweries and brew bars
- Browse Wellington’s farmers’ markets
- Do a tour of the Wellington Chocolate Factory
- Taste the local street eats
- Join Zest Food Tours for a foodie walking tour of the city.
Find out more about each experience for foodies, as well as a few others, in the 9 Best Foodie Experiences in Wellington.
Where to Eat in Wellington
- Karaka Cafe (2 Taranaki Street)
- Hiakai (40 Wallace Street)
- Caffee L’affare (27 College Street)
- Logan Brown (192 Cuba Street)
- Little Waffle Shop (53 Courtenay Place)
- Capital Market (151 Willis Street)
- Fidel’s Cafe (234 Cuba Street)
- Wellington Seamarket (220 Cuba Street)
Accommodation for Foodies
Whether you’re someone who likes to stay in hotels with fantastic restaurants or prefer to cook your own meals with the local produce in self-catering accommodation, we list a range of accommodation options in the 10 Best Accommodations in Wellington for Foodies.
More About Wellington
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Wellington but by no means the end of our Wellington travel tips! Check out the following guides for more advice on what to do in the region:
- 5 Cool Cafes With the Best Coffee in Wellington
- 10 Best Wellington Bookshops for Bookworms
- 10 Best Things to Do in Lower Hutt
- 11 Best Things to Do in the Hutt Valley
- 10 Best Things to Do in Miramar
- 10 Must-Dos on the Kapiti Coast
- 8 Best Things to Do in Waikanae
- 10 Best Things to Do in Porirua
- 8 Best Things to Do in Paraparaumu
- 5 Best Things to Do in Paekakariki
- 10 Best Things to Do in Wairarapa
Finally, plan more of your North Island trip using the North Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary or North Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary. You’ll also find more advice for planning an epic NZ trip in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.