How to Plan a Trip to Wellington on a Budget
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is on your itinerary, right? Right?! It doesn’t need much of an introduction being one of the largest cities in New Zealand and literally the launching pad for ferrying between the North and the South Island. It’s a vibrant student city, artsy city and historical city with lots of free things to see and do. With cheap street eats and affordable lodges, hotels and hostels, your stay here will likely be one of the cheapest in New Zealand yet.
Let’s waste no more time planning your affordable trip with this travel guide to Wellington on a budget!
Budget Tips for Wellington
- Stay in Wellington’s budget hotels and hostels
- If you want to stay in a hotel, try to avoid the peak season (October to April) where rates are at their highest
- Stay in self-catering accommodation so you can cook your own meals and save money on food
- If you’re camping, check out Where to Camp in Wellington for holiday parks and free camping sites
- Fill up your itinerary with the free museums, art galleries, walks and other free and cheap things to do in Wellington
- Wellington is well connected with city buses and Uber drivers to get around. See our guide to Public Transport in Wellington for more information.
For more general money-saving advice, check out the 11 Ways to Save Money When Backpacking in New Zealand.
Free Activities in Wellington
There’s no lack of free attractions in New Zealand’s capital, one of which is a Wellington must-do! The Te Papa Museum (55 Cable Street) is the national museum of New Zealand and is free to visit. You can easily spend hours in this museum learning about New Zealand’s volcanic and tectonic formations, it’s unique wildlife, Maori culture and European settlers. If that wasn’t enough, also in the city centre is the Wellington Museum (3 Jervois Quay) which delves in the history and art of Wellington itself. See more free museums in the 12 Free Art Galleries & Museums in Wellington.
If it’s a nice day, then it would be a crime not to visit Wellington’s amazing outdoor spaces, such as the Mt Victoria Lookout Walkway passing through the city’s green belt where scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed. Learn more about the walk in the 10 Best Walks in Wellington.
Another stunning outdoor space is the Botanic Gardens. Find an array of various themed gardens, as well as a treehouse information centre, bush walks and parks across 25ha (62 acres) of hillside between Thorndon and Kelburn. In summer, it’s also the venue for free gigs.
Wellington is also the administrative capital of New Zealand where the Beehive building (1 Museum Street) is an iconic attraction. Snap up a photo from the outside or tour its surrounding buildings on the free New Zealand Parliament Tour. Tours run on the hour between 10am and 4pm and last approximately one hour.
For more free activities, check out the 22 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wellington.
Cheap Activities in Wellington
If you have room in your budget to spend a little, then these cheap activities in Wellington are worth doing. Catch a free shuttle from the Wellington i-SITE to Zealandia, a native bird sanctuary just outside of the city centre. The sanctuary has a museum which tells the story of New Zealand unique wildlife and threats they face today, while the large predator-free haven has numerous walking trails. Look out for birds that are free to come and go as they please, such as the rare blue-feathered takahe, bush parrots, tui, robins and much more. Find out more about Zealandia on Viator and Tripadvisor.
If you’re a bit of a movie enthusiast, then head to Wellington’s “Wellywood”, i.e. Miramar, where you’ll find the Weta Cave and Workshop tours. Weta Studios does special effects and props for huge blockbusters, including The Lord of the Rings, and offers behind-the-scenes tours of their workshop for under NZ$30 per adult.
Finally, a cheap and quite simple attraction is the historic Wellington Cable Car (280 Lambton Quay), which you can ride from the city centre to the top of the Botanic Gardens for around NZ$5 per adult. At the top of the Cable Car track, you’ll get an amazing view of the city and a chance to explore the free Cable Car Museum.
For more cheap activities, see the 22 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Wellington.
Cheap Eats in Wellington
Finally, wrap up your affordable day in Wellington with some local and international cuisine in this melting pot city.
For street eats, treat yourself to waffles at the Little Waffle Shop (53 Courtenay Place), pick up some French crepes from Crepes A-Go-Go (61 Manners Street), or head to The Capital Market (151 Willis Street) for heaps of deals and food trucks to be found all in one place.
Combine a visit to Wellington’s famous bohemian street, Cuba Street, with some cheap eats at Fidel’s Cafe (234 Cuba Street) and Phoenician Cuisine (245 Cuba Street), both offering NZ$10 lunch options. And for vegan and vegetarian delights, head to Higher Taste (Old Bank Arcade).
For much more recommendations, check out the Cheap Eats in Wellington.
More About Wellington
- One Day in Wellington: City Walking Tour Itinerary
- 10 Things to Do in Wellington with Kids
- 20 Incredible Things to Do in Wellington
- The 50 Best Accommodations in Wellington
That’s it from the travel guide to Wellington on a budget. Check out even more money-saving tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand on a Budget.