Planning a solo trip to Wellington, NZ? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital of New Zealand and its second most populated urban area, Wellington has a metro population of about 420,000.
- Located on the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital. It is seat of the country’s government and its cultural centre.
- Enjoys an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine a year- 500 more than London!
- Nicknames: Windy City, Welly.
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
- Spoken languages: English and Te Reo Māori.
- Best time to visit: from September to April for the warmest weather. Be prepared for wind no matter when you visit, and pack appropriate clothing.
- Arriving via airport: Wellington International Airport (WLG) offers the Airport Flyer express bus service that runs every 20 minutes ($12 NZD), or a shared shuttle system for passengers travelling in the same direction.
- Taxis charge NZ$40-50 to the Central Business District.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Wellington hostel for solo travelers: The Marion. Perhaps the best hostel in New Zealand – a boutique establishment located right near Cuba Street (where all the action is). Friendly atmosphere, exceptionally clean rooms/facilities, and welcoming staff. Book ahead!
- The CBD (Central Business District) has plenty to offer thanks to superb views across the bay, including a wide range of accommodation options, Pacific Rim cuisine at any of the award winning restaurants and cafés. It is also just a short walking distance away from the city’s main attractions.
- When it comes to elegance and exclusivity, visitors book a stay at any of the famed properties found along Oriental Parade.
- Mount Victoria is preferred for its lookout views and beautiful outdoors.
- Metlink operates the public transportation network of railway, bus and ferry lines. Stored-value smartcards (called Snapper) facilitate payment and offer a 20% discount on cash fares. Be sure to tag off as you get off any form of transport, as there is a penalty fare for not doing so.
- Check the official Metlink website for the latest ticket and fare information. The entire public transportation network operates on a zone system, and charges fares according to travel.
- Taxis are a convenient, if expensive, option. Traffic conditions are at their worst during the early hours of 7 AM – 8.30 AM and then again from 4.30 PM – 6 PM. Call 387-4600 to book.
- Instead of bothering with taxis, check prices using the popular ride-sharing apps: Uber, Zoomy and Ola.
- Drinking age is 18 and last call is 5 AM on weekends.
- Courtenay Place is the place to be on most nights, with a variety of bars and nightclubs.
- Cuba Street is the incarnation of bohemia with funky cafés, quaint holes-in-the-wall and arty bars that attract a varied crowd.
- Lambton Quay is popular for after-work drinks and relaxed dinners.
- Great bars to start your night: San Fran (Cuba Street), Havana Bar (Wigan Street), and Valhalla (Vivian Street – rock/metal live music, can get loud).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the crowning glory of the capital, an interactive multimedia museum with exhibits and installations on New Zealand’s history.
- Old St. Paul’s is an icon of heritage and one of the most important wooden Gothic Revival churches in the world.
- Museum of Wellington City & Sea celebrates the city’s cultural and historical relationship with the maritime industry.
- The Wellington Cenotaph, or Wellington Citizen’s War Memorial, commemorates the victims of World War I and World War II and serves as the site of the Dawn Memorial Service every ANZAC Day on the 25th of April.
- City Gallery Wellington hosts a regularly changing programme of exhibitions and is recognised as being the epicentre of New Zealand arts.
- Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience is a unique eco-attraction and restoration project. Discover the wildlife and natural environments that make up New Zealand and get to see a Kiwi (if taking the night tour).
- Walk the length of “Millionaire’s Row” – Oriental Parade and stroll along the golden inner-city beach before retiring at any of the award winning restaurants.
- Peruse the underground tunnels of Wrights Hill Fortress, a former bombardment coastal artillery battery used until 1947.
- The Wellington Botanic Garden offers ancient forests and colourful gardens, including the award-winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
- The Wellington Cable Car celebrated 110 years of service in 2012, and remains a favourite attraction for both locals and visitors.
- The city is known as Windy Wellington for good reason: its position fronting the Cook Strait invites exposure to severe elements. The windiest month is October.
- Looking for amazing coffee in Wellington? Top picks: Customs, Caffe L’affare
- Great restaurants to try: Shepherd ($$$), Floriditas, Loretta, Tatsushi (Japanese), Burger Liquor, Nolita (Italian), Ombra (Italian), Mr Go’s (Asian), and Fred’s Sandwiches.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Cuba Street has a wonderful selection of exotic restaurants and take-aways and Willis Street is popular for its decadent cafés while the BNZ food court offers sushi, Indian, Greek and Turkish stalls.
- Dangerous areas: none. Wellington is one of the safest cities in New Zealand (and in the world). The party crowd out during the weekends can sometimes get rowdy, but the police are usually quick to respond.
Recommended trip duration: 1-2 days