Wellington is the capital and third most populous urban area of New Zealand. Wellington has character. Everyone talks about Auckland (which, contrary to popular belief, is not the capital), but the real magic takes place in Wellington. The architecture and eclectic vibe give this city a great personality that should not be missed. There’s great nightlife, food, activities, and a beautiful harbor.
Hostel prices – Dorm rooms range from $20-27 USD per night, while double private rooms cost $70 USD per night.
Budget hotel prices – Budget hotels cost $60-80 USD per night for a double room.
Average cost of food – A typical restaurant meal with cost you about $16 USD. A good restaurant will cost between $25-30 USD per day. If you choose to cook your food, plan to spend about $40-65 USD per week. You can find sandwiches around for $5 USD and fast food like McDonald’s or Burger King costs between $6-8 USD.
Transportation cost – The system, called Metlink, is comprised of an interlinked network of buses, trolley buses, cable cars, trains and ferries. Costs vary depending on type of system and travel.
Money Saving Tips
Eat cheap Asian food – The city has a lot of great, cheap Asian food to satisfy the large student population so you can get a great, filling meal on the cheap.
Top Things to See and Do
Visit the National Archives – Many of New Zealand’s most important documents are held in the National Archives. These include the original Treaty of Waitangi and the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition. If you are into history, this is a good place to go.
Tour the Beehive & Parliament House – The Beehive (a government building) and the adjoining Parliament House are a short walk from the train station. Although parts of these buildings are usually closed to the public, it is possible to take a free, guided tour. It’s a very beautiful building and you can even look down at parliament.
Explore Karori Wildlife Sanctuary – This conservation project is home to rare and endangered New Zealand wildlife including kiwi, saddleback, kaka and weka birds. The sanctuary has over 22 miles of trails offering scenic walks and a 19th-century goldmine to explore. It has an excellent example of native wildlife.
See Old St Paul’s – This old cathedral is an excellent example of colonial Gothic architecture and was built from native timbers.
Visit Wellington Zoo – New Zealand’s oldest zoo has a large range of African, Asian and native wildlife. Admission is $21 USD.
Check out Te Papa – The national museum is huge, covers Maori and Colonial history, is great for kids, and has an extensive section on the geology of New Zealand. Best of all? It’s free.
Learn about Maritime History at the Museum of Wellington City – A free museum chronicling the history of Wellington. It’s great for people who have an interest in maritime history.
Head to the Lookout points – Wellington City is surrounded by hills, so there are a number of good vantage points. Head up to one of them by bike, bus, or cable car and get steller views of the surrounding hills,
Relax in the Botanic Gardens – A nice place to go for a picnic, or just an afternoon walk. You can take the Cable Car from Lambton Quay for a quick five-minute trip to the top though you an walk up to the gardens. They are filled with great views, colorful flowers, lawns to hang out in, and pretty much everything you need to have a great day outside.
See the Carter Observatory – Near the top of the Botanic Gardens, you’ll find this full-dome planetarium. Head out in the evening for some stargazing or pop in during the day for various shows on the cosmos. There are some exhibits to look at, as well as a neat gift shop.
Watch Movies at the New Zealand Film Archive – First established in 1981, this library is home to over 30,000 movies, any of which, can be seen free of charge on a big-screen! There is an interesting gallery to check out too, as well a small café.
See the Wildlife at Zealandia – This is a wildlife sanctuary that can be found just west of Wellington. There are several native birds living here, including the kiwi, hihi, saddleback, and more. This is a great place to walk around freely, but there are guided tours offered as well. When your done outside, check out the exhibition center.
See the Sevens – This is an annual rugby tournament held in the Wellington’s Westpac stadium every February. Drawing crowds of over 30,000 people, this event is always really fun and many people that attend do so in costume.