An energetic hub of New Zealand, continuing to captivate various travellers from all walks of life; the city of Wellington is an undeniable highlight of the North Island. Ranging from towering lookouts and observatories to buzzing streets and eateries, there’s always something new to uncover within the city.
The Seasons of Wellington
Wellington is typically a colder travel destination with temperatures dropping as low as 2°C in the winter, so it would be wise to pack warmer clothing when you are visiting. This is with exception to summer, as temperatures can rise up to 32°C.
Summer: December–February: 21°C to 32°C
Autumn: March-May: 7°C to 21°C
Winter: June–August: 2°C to 16°C
Spring: September–November: 4°C to 18°C
Best Time to Visit Wellington
The peak season for travel in Wellington is the summertime (December – February). This is typically due to a combination of school holidays and desirable temperatures. Hotel rates are usually much higher during this time due to the higher demand.
Wellington’s low season is between the months of June and August. This is due to the colder temperatures of winter accompanied by strong, chilling winds. On the other hand, you may be able to avoid the crowds of tourists during this time and hotel rates will be lower.
The best time to travel to Wellington is between the peak and low seasons. When visiting in autumn (March to May), temperatures are pleasant, crowds aren’t too overwhelming and accommodation prices are reasonable. However, the weather can become rainier as the season progresses. Springtime can also be a pleasant and colourful time to visit. Although winds are still present, plant life is often vibrant and blooming.
Flight Times and Cost From Australia
The flight time to Wellington will vary between different cities. If you are flying out from the east coast of Australia, it should take about 3 – 4 hours to reach Wellington, whereas if you are flying out from the west coast, it should take about 8 hours.
Flight cost won’t typically fluctuate too much when it comes to Wellington. Travellers departing from the east coast can expect to pay anywhere between $200 - $500 (AU), whereas flying out from the west coast can cost around upwards of $700 (AU). To get the best prices of flights, it’s best to be patient for a good deal and flexible with your travel dates. Find out if it’s cheaper to fly out of a different, nearby airport. Booking with an airline directly as opposed to a travel agent can often be cheaper as well.
Accommodation Costs in Wellington
Accommodation costs in Wellington will vary between peak and low seasons. Travellers visiting the city will find that hotel costs spike in the summertime whereas in the wintertime rates will drop.
For example, on average, a 3-star hotel in late January (peak season) will cost $150 (AU), and a 5-star hotel will cost $244 (AU). This is compared to a hotel 3-star hotel in mid-June (low season) costing $104 (AU) and a 5-star hotel costing $185 (AU). When visiting in the shoulder seasons, accommodation prices won’t be as expensive as the peak season, and not as cheap as the low season.
When trying to save money on accommodation, it may be worth staying around 15 – 20 minutes away from the city centre. Although staying in the heart of a city can be convenient, it can also be expensive.
Top Attractions in Wellington
Cuba Street is a colourful, busy centre within Wellington, containing an array of restaurants, pubs, and shops to enjoy. Walk among the busy street, take in the sweet aromas and dine in at some of Wellington's finest eateries. With a complex blend of food, art and vintage stores, Cuba Street is the creative point of Wellington. The street is a perfect spot to take in the cities energetic nightlife and atmosphere.
Entry Cost: Free
Time to Allocate: As long as you’d like
Any Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans can appreciate the significance of the Weta Workshop experience. The facility has grown over the years to become one of the leading facilities for props and effects, contributing to iconic movies such as the Middle Earth films, Pacific Rim, Thor and many more. Visitors can wander through the impressive gift store, showcasing some of the workshop’s talented pieces, before embarking on a studio tour. Witness a range of recognisable props and learn how they are made firsthand. The Weta Workshop is a must-see attraction when visiting Wellington. Parking is available in nearby streets.
Entry Cost: Studio Tour: $45 (NZ)
Time to Allocate: 1.5 to 2 hours
For travellers wanting panoramic views of Wellington’s city and bay, Mount Victoria can deliver. The hill perches visitors 196m above the city and is a perfect place to lay back and watch the boats float over the water. This spot is also excellent for taking in sunrises and sunsets. The peak can be reached on foot through lush greenery, otherwise, visitors can simply drive.
Entry Cost: Free
Time to Allocate: 1.5 hours
Stroll among an eco-sanctuary, restored with various ecosystems to closely resemble a prehuman state; Zealandia is a perfect place to explore the colourful vegetation of the country. The forestry extends over 225 hectares, and contains a variety of birds, plants and reptiles native to New Zealand. The restoration project is overall very effective, having introduced 18 species of wildlife back into the area. The park can be explored through day, twilight and night tours.
Entry Cost: Adult: $19.50. Child: $10.
Time to Allocate: 2 hours
Cable Car & Space Observatory
A trip to Wellington is incomplete without a ride on the city’s historic cable cars. Catch a cable car from the heart of the city, and over 5 minutes, rise over 120 metres to witness a unique view of the city. This short ride also takes passengers directly to the city’s Botanical Garden and Carter’s Space Observatory, for an interesting insight into Maori astronomy. Take a look through the iconic Thomas Cooke telescope, and explore the vast, southern skies.
Entry Cost: Cable Car – Adult: $7.50 (NZ). Child: $3.50 (NZ).
Space Observatory – Adult: $12.50 (NZ). Child: $8 (NZ).
Time to Allocate: 2 – 3 hours
Transportation around Wellington
Rent a Car
Renting a car is one of the most convenient ways of getting around Wellington. This provides you with the freedom to come and go as you please. However, prices will vary depending on the company, model, demand etc. The best thing to do if you are wanting to save some money is to shop around, compare prices and find a deal to suit you. Petrol and parking costs should also be considered in the decision making process.
The public transport system in Wellington is well advanced when compared to other cities. Trains are available within Wellington and are mainly used for getting from Wellington Station to surrounding suburbs. The bus system is best for getting around the city, with over 100 routes available.
Ferries are a popular way of getting from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand. Grabbing a Snapper Card may be a good idea, as this will allow you to pay for transport faster, rather than constantly rummaging for change. Walking is another regular mode of transport in the city, as the city centre is not that large and can be walked under 20 minutes.
Although taxi’s can be convenient, they can also be very expensive. Prices for a taxi will depend on the company, how far you are travelling, how long you’re in the cab (due to traffic) etc. As a guide, a 10 kilometre taxi ride should cost roughly $30 (NZ). Costs for a taxi often include add-on fees such as a call out fee, an increase fare with more people, premium rates, airport pick up or a fee for paying with card. Uber is also available in Wellington.
Foods to Try in Wellington
Wellington is a creative hub of New Zealand, with a vast range of unique foods to sample and enjoy, and with a range restaurants and eateries on offer, there’s no shortage of supply. In regards to food cost, according to Lonely Planet’s Money and Cost Guide to New Zealand, an average meal at a midrange restaurant will cost between $15 (NZ) - $32 (NZ). Here are a few foods to try during your stay in Wellington.
Hangi – a pit full of heated stones in which food is cooked in.
Hokey Pokey Ice-cream – plain vanilla ice cream with chunks of honeycomb toffee.
Manuka Honey – Honey made from the nectar of the Manuka tree. Commonly used as an alternative medicine.
Fish and Chips – Best had by the beach.
Wellington contains a vast range of exciting activities that continue to pull in curious travellers from all over the world. Visitors can travel back in time to see untouched landscapes, explore behind the scenes of beloved movies and gain an insight into Maori astronomy. When visiting the North Island of New Zealand, be sure to stop by this acclaimed city.
Planning a road trip to New Zealand's North Island? Check out an In-depth campervanning guide here.