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Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington (Te Whanganui a Tara in Māori) is the capital and second largest city of New Zealand. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. The Windy City is built on the foreshore of Wellington Harbour and ringed by mountains, providing the scenic home of many of New Zealand's national arts and cultural attractions.

Wellington offers a blend of culture, heritage, fine food, and lively arts and entertainment.
Surrounded by hills and a rugged coastline, the city boasts a stunning harbor. Wellington’s charm is that it serves up a vibrant inner city experience with a slice of New Zealand scenery. And because of its compact nature, you can sample it all: boutiques, art galleries, trendy cafés, and restaurants. Right on its doorstep is a network of walking and biking trails with beautiful wineries and vineyards just a few hours away.Read more

Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington (Te Whanganui a Tara in Māori) is the capital and second largest city of New Zealand. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. The Windy City is built on the foreshore of Wellington Harbour and ringed by mountains, providing the scenic home of many of New Zealand's national arts and cultural attractions.

Wellington offers a blend of culture, heritage, fine food, and lively arts and entertainment.
Surrounded by hills and a rugged coastline, the city boasts a stunning harbor. Wellington’s charm is that it serves up a vibrant inner city experience with a slice of New Zealand scenery. And because of its compact nature, you can sample it all: boutiques, art galleries, trendy cafés, and restaurants. Right on its doorstep is a network of walking and biking trails with beautiful wineries and vineyards just a few hours away.
Wellington offers an array of theatre, music, dance, fine arts, and galleries and museums. It is also home to one of the nation’s key attractions, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Wellington is also known for its film tourism. It is the heart of New Zealand's film industry and main filming and production centers for films such as the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Avatar, Tin Tin and District 9.
The city promotes itself as "Absolutely Positively Wellington". Its motto "Suprema a situ" claims site supremacy, with some justification. Wellington was named as the fourth best city in the world to visit in 2011 by "Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2011" referring to the New Zealand capital as the "coolest little capital in the world".
  • Wellington Visitor Information Centre (iSITE), Civic Square, Corner Victoria and Wakefield Streets, +64 4 802 4860 or 0800 933 53 63. A good place to begin your Wellington visit - they're able to book accommodation, activities and provide useful information about Wellington and surrounding areas. Their website contains the same information and is worth checking out prior to your visit. They are a member of the national i-SITE visitor information center network (i-SITE).


Wellington is known as the Windy City. The prevailing wind is from the northwest but the strongest winds are southerly. The wind speed and direction can be seen by the flag being flown from the Beehive. A large flag is flown only on calm days, a small flag is flown when windy days are expected.

The temperature in Wellington rarely drops below 0°C (32°F), even on a cold winter's night, while daytime winter temperatures are rarely lower than 8°C (46°F). During summer, the daytime maximum temperature rarely gets above 25°C (77°F). Away from the seaside, in inland valleys, frosts of up to -10°C (14°F) have been recorded and snow settles on the nearby ranges in winter.

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Wellington, New Zealand: Port Information

Cruise ships from overseas often call on Wellington. If you are arriving on a large cruise ship, you will dock at Aotea Quay, located beside Westpac Stadium in between the Interislander Ferry Terminal and the railway station. At the Wellington Cruise Terminal, you may chat with Wellington City Ambassadors and pick up maps and brochures for your visit to the capital. Computers, phones, a post box, and metered taxis are all available at the terminal. From there, you might take a shuttle if offered by your ship or catch a shuttle operated by the city. Due to this port being busy and industrial, it is recommended that you taxi or shuttle into the city rather than walk. If you do choose to walk, just follow the yellow lines outside the terminal; a walk to the railway station is about 10 minutes, along an industrial area, and to the city center 20 minutes.
Smaller cruise ships dock conveniently at Queens Wharf, which is right in the middle of the beautiful downtown waterfront.

Get around Wellington, New Zealand

It is easy to get around the central city on foot, as is very compact and pedestrian-friendly. In addition, New Zealand's best public transit network with buses, commuter trains, and suburban ferries is available to take you farther afield.

  • Metlink (Greater Wellington Regional Council - Transport), 0800 801 700. Provides full information about routes and fares about Wellington's public transport. Metlink also provides a text bus service - Text the bus-stop number to bus (287) from any NZ mobile phone to receive the times the next bus is timetabled to arrive.

By foot
The core of Wellington is notably compact and vibrant and is well-suited to exploration by walking. As dictated by geography, the core of the city is quite linear, with the classic commercial backbone known as the Golden Mile making for a diverting and pleasant walking route. This route runs from the Railway Station down Lambton Quay to its southern end at Willis Street. It then runs down lower Willis Street to Manners Street and the pedestrianized Manners Mall, and continues straight onto Courtenay Place. On the Manners Mall section, the route crosses Wellington's bohemian heartland of Cuba Street, which heads south into the core of Te Aro. While these streets mark the traditional core of the commercial city, the surrounding blocks also have plenty to be seen.
Another enjoyable and popular place to amble in the city core is the Waterfront, from the revitalized Kumutoto area in the north, past Queen's Wharf to Frank Kitts Park, and then through the Lagoon and City-to-Sea Bridge areas and on to the Te Papa museum and Waitangi Park. From here the waterfront curves northeastward along lovely Oriental Bay with its beach and promenade.

By bus
Wellington city itself has an extensive network of buses, including a significant number of routes served by electric trolleybuses.

Network overview
Excellent and free network maps and route timetables and maps are available from locations throughout town, including the main visitor center in Civic Square, the Central Library, and many convenience stores. You can also access the timetables and maps online. While these maps can be quite useful if you desire to travel into the suburbs, they aren't generally necessary if you simply want to travel across the central city. Being a rather linear city, the heart of Wellington is heavily served by the central bus corridor between the Railway Station and Courtenay Place. Nearly all lines run along this section, so you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes to catch a ride. The route is approximately as follows:

  • Out of the Railway Station bus terminal onto Lambton Quay.
  • Lambton Quay to Willis Street.
  • Willis Street to Mercer Street, where the route zig-zags by Civic Square and onto Cuba Street.
  • Cuba Street to Manners Street, continuing straight to Courtenay Place.


  • From Courtenay Place straight onto Dixon Street
  • From Dixon Street zig-zags to Manners Street
  • Manners Street to Willis Street
  • Willis Street to Lambton Quay to the Railway Station.

You can always call the friendly hotline on 0800 801700 and they will tell you what buses to take and how much it will cost. Bus fares use a zone structure. While the metropolitan area includes many zones, nearly the entire city of Wellington (extending to the water's edge in the south, east, and west, and as far north as Johnsonville) exists within three zones. In addition, the core of the network between the Railway Station and Courtenay Place serves as a special fare zone.
If you plan to use the bus extensively, you can also buy an all-day central bus pass which allows unlimited trips after 9 AM on weekdays within zones 1 through 3. Check Metlink's website for current pricing.
In addition, electronic Snapper fare cards are available from most supermarkets and convenience stores, which provide approximately 25% discount off adult fares on Go Wellington buses. These cards can be topped up electronically at various agencies for a small fee. However, you need to remember to tag not only when you board the bus but also as you leave the bus, or you will be charged for the whole route.

By cable car
The Kelburn cable car is a Wellington icon. It provides a regular service between Lambton Quay and Kelburn. The Wellington city terminal is at the end of Cable Car Lane, just off Lambton Quay, near the intersection with Grey Street. The Kelburn terminal is at the end of Upland Road by an entrance to the Botanic Gardens. The cable car operates every 10 minutes and usually between 7 am and 10 pm, 7 days a week (though times may vary during weekends and public holidays). The Cable Car also makes stops at Clifton Terrace, Talvera Terrace and Salamanca Road (Victoria University).

By boat
The Eastbourne ferry service, which provides regular services between Queens Wharf and Days Bay in Eastbourne, also stops at Somes Island most trips. There are also limited ferry services to Seatoun and Petone during both weekdays and weekends.

By train
The train is the best form of public transport between the central city and Johnsonville, as well as the Hutt Valley, Porirua or the Kapiti Coast - although you do have to walk from Melling or Western Hutt, or catch a bus from Petone or Waterloo (Hutt Central) stations to central Lower Hutt's CBD.
At Wellington station, the destination and departure time of the next train departing from each platform is displayed on the message board at the entry to each platform. Two announcements are made a few minutes before each train is due to depart. Tickets can be bought at the Wellington station ticket office or suburban ticket agents. Since most smaller stations do not have ticket offices, you can also buy single journey tickets, and day passes, with cash, from the conductor on the train, after you board and often once the train is moving. Monthly passes do need to be purchased from a station ticket office or suburban ticket agents in advance.
The easiest way to travel between the Hutt Valley and Porirua is by train via Wellington (it is no cheaper to change at Kaiwharawhara, not all services will stop there and the timetables mean there is generally no time-saving). Trains run every half hour on the Hutt Valley and Porirua lines, and more frequently during peak hour. Services generally run every half hour on Saturdays and Sundays.
A Day Rover pass allows unlimited trips on any of the four commuter lines on the same day (from first off-peak service departing after 9 AM weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday). This can often work out cheaper than buying separate tickets if you need to make two or more journeys. A 3 Day Weekend Rover pass is available for train travel from 4:30 AM Friday to midnight Sunday. If you have a group of people, a Group Rover pass allows up to 4 people to travel together on the same conditions as a Day Rover.

By taxi
As in all New Zealand cities, taxi rates vary according to the company. There is a "flagfall" charge, then a per kilometer charge once the cab starts moving. Extra fees apply for things like airport pickup, phone booking, electronic payment, etc. Major taxi companies in Wellington include (alphabetically) Combined, Corporate, Green, and Kiwi. There are many alternate taxi companies and taxis are usually in plentiful supply.
Check the door of the taxi before you get in for the current approved fare rates. Wellington taxi charges are high on international comparisons.

By car
As noted above, driving in the core of Wellington is generally not necessary or as convenient as walking. However, it is not particularly difficult once you learn the one-way system, nor is traffic a big worry outside of normal rush-hour periods.
Street and garage/surface lot parking is not particularly difficult for a city of Wellington's density, but as with any city, you may have to search a bit for a street spot. Street parking is generally metered in the center, often with a one or two-hour time limit. Multi-story car parks tend to be similarly priced, but you can generally stay for longer periods.
In the suburbs immediately surrounding the city, coupon parking zones exist in conjunction with Resident Only parking. In the Coupon Zones, two hours of parking are free. Beyond that, you must display a coupon to allow you to park for the entire day. Enforcement of the Coupon Zones is from 8 AM to 6 PM. Resident Zones are generally reserved for Residents (displaying a current permit) at all times, and you may be served with a ticket for parking there without a permit.
On the weekend, metered car parking is free, with a two-hour time limit on both days.

What to see in Wellington, New Zealand

  • Te Papa. The national museum. Particularly good if you have children to entertain on a rainy day. Free (except for the occasional special presentation).
  • Museum of Wellington City & Sea, Queens Wharf. Daily, 10 AM-5 PM, closed 25 Dec. A well-presented museum of the history of Wellington, including its maritime history. Free.
  • City Gallery, Civic Square. Lacks a permanent collection but runs a consistently avant-garde set of exhibits. It also has an excellent cafe Nikau attached to it.
  • The Wellington Cable Car, from Lambton Quay (next to the McDonald's), 04 472 2199. Daily until 10 PM. The easiest way to get a nice view of the city and harbor, the Cable Car runs on rails from Lambton Quay to the Botanic Garden in Kelburn every ten minutes.
  • Frank Kitts Park. A great place to wander around, with walls to climb, inline skates, and jet ski rental.
  • Futuna Chapel. Important architecture modernist masterpiece located in the suburb of Karori. Visit by arrangement.
  • Lookout points - Wellington City is surrounded by hills, so there are a number of good vantage points:
  • Mount Victoria. (196 meters) The best lookout in Wellington. The full 360-degree view is a great place to see the airport, the harbor, the CBD and the Town Belt with just a turn of the head. It takes about an hour to walk up from Courtenay Place. Many tourist buses go there but also a lot of the locals, especially at night to 'watch the view'.
  • Mount Kaukau. (445 meters) Another great lookout point, not as close to the city as Mt Victoria.
  • Wrights Hill. More views, and WWII underground tunnels which are open to the public on public holidays for a small fee.
  • Brooklyn Wind Turbine. Another great place to go to get an excellent view of the city, the harbor, and Cook Strait, plus experience the wind! Access is signposted from Brooklyn shops: head up Todman Street.
  • Massey Memorial An interesting place to go if you want to see a large memorial in the middle of nowhere, with a good view of the surrounding harbor.
  • Karori Cemetery is an interesting picnic spot.
  • Elmscourt a historic art deco apartment block on the corner of The Terrace and Abel Smith Street.
  • Oriental Parade. A new beach. However, if you are not from somewhere really cold it is unlikely that it will be hot enough for you to be in desperate need for a swim. There is a spa pool (jacuzzi) in Freyberg Swimming pool (on Oriental Parade) which is inexpensive if you enjoy "people soup".
  • Zealandia (Karori Wildlife Sanctuary), end of Waiapu Rd, (first left after the Karori Tunnel). Daily 10 AM-5 PM (last entry 4 PM), closed 25 Dec. A predator-proof fence encloses an old water catchment area, forming a mainland island that provides a natural haven for endangered native birds, tuatara, wētā, and other indigenous flora and fauna, safe from introduced predators. By far the most convenient place in the country to see rare New Zealand wildlife.
  • Plimmer's Ark. Under and in the Old Bank Arcade on the corner of Lambton Quay and Customhouse Quay - near Plimmer's Steps. A hundred years ago a Bank was built on top of a wrecked ship that had been used as a market. When they renovated the building they discovered the ship's timbers and preserved the remains in the building! Just take the escalator down through the bank vault doors.
  • Parliament Buildings, the Beehive (or Executive Wing), and the Parliamentary Library. The grounds of Parliament are open to the public. Known as the hill, Parliament grounds are at the foot of Molesworth and Bowen Streets, where they meet Lambton Quay.
  • National Library of New Zealand, corner of Aitken and Molesworth Streets (across the road from the Cathedral and Parliament). The library regularly holds exhibitions.
  • Turnbull House, Bowen Street (just across the road from Parliament Buildings). This imposing brick mansion now seems small and out of place amongst the surrounding high-rises.
  • Old Government Buildings opposite Parliament at 15 Lambton Quay. This is the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere and the second-largest in the world. It is now the home of Victoria University Law School.
  • Old St Paul's, (one block east of Parliament). This was the Anglican center for decades. Superseded by the new cathedral north of Parliament, this one is popular for weddings and funerals.
  • Statues and sculptures appear in some intriguing places around town. Famous prime ministers, memorials, and works of art have all been erected in the streets of Wellington, including:
  • Memorial statues to two prime ministers in the grounds of Parliament as well as a bicentennial memorial to Captain Cook's 1769 discovery of New Zealand.
  • The Cenotaph on the corner of Lambton Quay and Bowen Street, just outside the Parliament Grounds, is where a Dawn Memorial Service is held every ANZAC Day (25 Apr).
  • Behind Parliament, on the corner of Museum and Bowen Streets, is a small park with 3 sculptures in block.
  • On the corner of Lambton Quay and Stout Street, the fallen column has not come off the nearby building but is a work of art.
  • On Lambton Quay, opposite Cable Car Lane, the two stainless steel monoliths with pimples are actually a poem in braille!
  • Where Lambton Quay meets Featherston Street there is a wind mobile.
  • The Bucket Fountain in Cuba Mall - a real splash, for many years.
  • Wellington Central Library, (in the city square, next to the information center). It's huge with great places to sit and read or if you bring your laptop to connect home via one of the city's paid-for wi-fi networks. Entry is free.
  • Matiu/Somes Island Out in the middle of the harbor, this island has its share of history. It was once a quarantine station for immigrants, and later (and more extensively) for animals. It was also an internment camp for "dangerous" individuals during both World Wars. The ferry leaves from Queen's Wharf and Day's Bay (on opposite sides of the harbor). Only at certain times will the ferry stop at the island and only upon request. The best choice is to leave Queen's Wharf at noon and return at 2:30 PM or 3:25 PM.
  • Carter Observatory, 40 Salamanca Road, Kelbrun (2-minute walk from the top of the Cable Car), +64 4 910 3140. 10 am-5 pm. Carter Observatory, located 2 minutes walk from the top of the Cable Car. Carter offers a state of the art planetarium show, along with multimedia exhibits show how early Māori, Polynesian, and European settlers navigated their way to New Zealand.

What to do in Wellington, New Zealand

  • The Botanic Garden is 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 5-minute trip to the top; but it is not designed to be exciting, despite being photogenic. If you're keen on walking up, take the lifts in The James Cook Arcade (or one of several others along Lambton Quay) up to The Terrace, head south uphill until you reach Salamanca Rd. Head uphill up Salamanca Rd until you reach Victoria University. A set of stairs on the opposite side of the road to the Hunter Lawn goes uphill right to the top of the Gardens. If you already shelled out for a Daytripper ticket, just catch the Mairangi bus, get off at the stop after the University, and walk back along Upland Rd until you reach the Cable Car Museum. At the top of the Gardens, there are several attractions:
  • The Cable Car Museum has two of the old cars in semi-restored and fully-restored condition and some of the original Cable Car machinery from the system that was replaced in 1978.
  • The Lookout has a great view day or night, and the large map next to the round tree usually has a few pamphlets with maps of the Gardens.
  • The Carter Observatory is a stone's throw from here. This is the perfect place to explore the Garden from or wander back to the city.
  • Bolton Street Memorial Park. Watch out for the friendly black cat who haunts this hillside cemetery. If you're returning from the Botanic Gardens by foot, this is a great place to meander through and check out the epitaphs of early pioneers and historical figures.
  • Red Rocks/ Seal Colony. This is an interesting walk named for its distinctive red rocks (probably Jasper). Take the number 1 bus to the end (Island Bay). Walk across the park towards the ocean and hang a right. There is another bus, number 4, that goes to the end of the road but only at certain times. Travel west (right side, if facing the water) until you run out of road. Here you will find a disused quarry and a visitors center (open daily from 10 am - 6 pm, later in summer). The walk along this beach is pleasant but rocky and often very windy, so dress accordingly. The road is shared (except Sundays) with 4WDs and other motor traffic. If one walks for about 1 hour you will come across a distinctive pass through the rock face. Just on the other side of this is a seal colony (in May-October)that is worth the walk. Please bear in mind that these are wild animals and so require a certain level of respect, so keep your distance and do not get between them and the sea, especially if you value your health! Continuing on from here, you will eventually arrive at Makara (but this is a long distance, and the seal colony is a recommended turn-around point).
  • Circa Theatre.
  • Bats Theatre.
  • Downstage Theatre.
  • Capital E National Theatre for Children.
  • The Embassy Theatre.
  • Beck's Incredible Film Festival. Incredibly strange, exploitation cinema and extra low budget movies.
  • Festival of the Arts. February/March every two years.
  • Comedy Festival.
  • Fringe Festival.
  • Polo. Wellington is well-known for Polo and Equestrian events including horse shows, jumping, and dressage.
  • Sevens. The Wellington Sevens or the New Zealand International Sevens is an annual rugby sevens tournament held in Wellington. The tournament, the fourth on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit, is played at Wellington's Westpac Stadium in early February and includes teams from 16 countries. The event attracts over thirty thousand spectators annually. The tournament has become Wellington's largest sporting event and one of New Zealand's leading sporting events. It also has a reputation for a party atmosphere, with a large proportion of attendees wearing fancy dress. Recent years have seen large groups of costumes that vary from Fred Flintstone and Wilma to Care Bears, dance troops, wrestlers and many other interesting costumes. More recently items of recent media interest or advertisements form a key theme. Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, George Bush have made appearances. Movie figures such as Men in Black (MIB) and Austin Powers are crowd favorites and an impersonator of Austin has been a regular feature each year performing to the crowd.
  • Dance Music.
  • Dive the frigate Wellington (F69). Probably the world's most accessible dive wreck. Just a few kilometers around the coast from Wellington International Airport. Sunk on 13 November 2005 in 23 to 26 meters of water off Island Bay on Wellington's south coast. The wreck lies about 600 meters southeast of Taputeranga Island (the island of Island Bay) at 41° 21'.270 S., 174° 46'.770 E.
  • Take a ferry across the harbor to Eastbourne and Days Bay beach. Go down to Queen's Wharf and check out the destinations and times.
  • Oriental Bay, Oriental Parade (Past Te Papa). Oriental Parade is Wellington's most beautiful street. Wellingtonians and visitors run, walk, cycle, rollerblade and eat at the great cafes & restaurants on this strip or sunbathe at the beach.

What to eat and drink in Wellington, New Zealand


Wellington has a lot of restaurants and cafes, in fact, more cafes, bars, and restaurants per head than New York City. Malaysian food is surprisingly popular and available in most areas. You can also get good Turkish kebabs anywhere in the city, or Lebanese at the Phoenician Falafel on Kent Terrace. Fish and chips are the best value food and you usually get better quality in the suburbs.

Wellington is home to a range of good coffee roasteries. Local roasters include Caffe L'affare, Coffee Supreme, Havana, Mojo, People's Coffee and Red Rabbit Coffee Co. Below is a small range from the extensive list of the Wellington cafe scene:
  • Aro Cafe - On Aro Street, offering a range of vegan and gluten-free food.
  • Beach Babylon, 232 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay (Across from Oriental Bay), 801 7717. early till late. A retro, beach paradise inspired cafe and restaurant with Wellington's best outdoor dining area. Beach Babylon serves good, retro New Zealand cuisine and great prices.
  • Butlers Chocolate Café - Willis Street - chocolates, coffee, and decadent hot chocolate. If you're a chocolate lover, you can't miss this!
  • Cafe Neo - 132 Willis St - a trendy cafe offering a delicious variety of cuisine and very good tea.
  • Caffe L’affare - with its own roastery that supplies New Zealand coffee to cafes and supermarkets across the country. Popular cafe.
  • Clarks Cafe - located in the Wellington Central Library, Clarks is one of the few places where you still put your own food on the tray - and then wait for your coffee at the counter.
  • Customs Brew Bar - Coffee Supreme's flagship store on Ghuznee St, offers a range of espresso, soft brew, and filter coffee, and sells single origin beans and brew gear to take away.
  • Deluxe - nestled beside the Embassy Theatre, Deluxe is the ideal pre-movie meeting place, portions are well-sized and the food is tasty.
  • Espressoholic - centrally located on Cuba Street.
  • Fidel's Cafe - a popular destination, it is claimed to be one of Wellington's best-known cafes. Has a selection of vegetarian and vegan food.
  • Floridita's – in Cuba St on Marion Square, good cooking using fresh, locally grown and organic food that’s popular among foodies
  • Front Page Cafe - 40 Boulcott St off of Willis St. Caters for both the public and Wellington's local newspaper staff (The Dominion Post).
  • Gasoline- between Woodward Street and The Terrace in Wellington's business district, Gasoline caters to a largely corporate clientele.
  • Kelburn Cafe - Located on Upland road amongst the Kelburn shops.
  • Maranui Cafe - in the surf life-saving club buildings at Lyall Bay (near the airport). Relax in front of a panorama of the beach and the Cook Strait.
  • Memphis Belle - Great single origin filter coffees from Flight Coffee around the corner.
  • Midnight Espresso - Selection of mostly vegetarian counter food.
  • Ministry of Food - just up the road from parliament, what else can you call the place where the civil servants go to eat.
  • Nikau at the Art Gallery (Civic Square) - good food, but at relatively high prices.
  • Olive Cafe - a long-established cafe on Cuba Street. Has a selection of vegetarian and vegan food.
  • People's Coffee - excellent single origin espresso in Newtown. Also, their "Brewtown" next door is a great place to try some filter coffee.
  • Plum - located on Cuba Street and recently given a refit. Great coffee and food selection.
  • Red Rabbit Coffee Co. - Specialist micro-roastery operating out of the historic Hannah's Factory building on Leeds St, Te Aro.
  • Simply Paris – new to Wellington and has a range of tasty sweets and pastries.
In Wellington's CBD:
  • China Delight - on 18 Allen Street off of Courtenay Pl. Offers both Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine with some generous lunchtime specials.
  • Majestic Cuisine - on 11 Courtney Pl.
  • Regal - on 7/9 Courtenay Place.
Fine Dining
  • Boulcott Street Bistro, 99 Boulcott St, +64 4 499 4199 (info@boulcottstbistro.co.nz, fax: +64 4 499 3879). Bistro Lunch M-F from noon, Bistro Dinner M-Sa from 6 PM, Wine bar All day M-F, reservations accepted for lunch only. Private room is available for groups of 10-16. Modern bistro. Classic combinations, fresh ingredients, attentive service.
  • Charley Noble, Ground Floor, Huddart Parker Building, No 1 Post Office Square, 0508 242 753. Francois, 10A Murphy St, Thorndon, +64 4 499 5252. Lunch Tu-F, Dinner M-Sa (can bring own wine on M). Exquisite French dining (and service).
  • Logan Brown, 192 Cuba St (corner of Cuba and Vivian Sts), +64 4 801 5114. In the former banking chamber of a historic banking building.  
  • Pravda - elegant bistro dining, 107 Customhouse Quay Wellington (Part of the Lambton shopping precinct), +64 4 801 8858. early to late. Pravda means “The Truth” in Russian, but here it is a cafe, bistro, bar, and restaurant. The coffee is strong, the food is diverse and of a high standard.
  • The White House, 232 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay, +64 4 385 8555 (whitehouse.restaurant@xtra.co.nz). Lunch F (more frequent in Nov/Dec), Dinner 6 PM onwards nightly. Winner of numerous awards, specializing in seafood, NZ meats, and organic veges.
Fish and chips
Every suburb in Wellington has a good fish and chip shop.
In Wellington City:
  • Athena Fish and Chips, Onepu Road, Lyall Bay.
  • Fisherman's Plate, 12 Bond St, CBD. Don't know about their fish and chips, but they also do excellent, authentic Vietnamese food in admittedly shabby surroundings.
  • Huckle & Co., 31 Dundas St, Seatoun.
  • Mt Vic Chippery; 5 Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria.
  • Northland Fish & Chip Shop; 57 Northland Rd, Northland
  • Starfish, Molesworth Street, Te Aro - slightly more pricey than most but worth it.
  • Supremo Takeouts, 2a Moxham Ave, Hataitai
  • Te Aro Fish Supply; on Aro St.
  • Wadestown Takeaways, 102C Wadestown Rd, Wadestown.
Further north:
  • Asian Takeaways; Ganges Rd, Khandallah
  • Calypso Fish & Chips; 5 Waiwhetu Rd, Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt
  • Dennis Fish Supply; 103 Randwick Rd, Moera, Lower Hutt
  • Plimmerton; Beach Road, Plimmerton, Porirua
  • So Fine Seafoods, 2 Tennyson Ave, Avalon, Lower Hutt. Voted NZ's best fish and chips shop in 2008.
Food Tours
  • Zest Food Tours, 0800-937 886 or +64 4 801 9198 (tours@zestfoodtours.co.nz). Zest operates a number of food, coffee and chocolate walking tours around Wellington.


Wellington has a bustling nightlife, concentrated along Courtenay Place, one of the major streets running from the CBD. It runs through Te Aro and ends in Mt Victoria. The nightlife causes this street to have the highest population density in all of New Zealand on Friday and Saturday nights. In most establishments, drinks are remarkably affordable, and entrance charges are either nonexistent or minimal. In some of the better clubs, reasonable dress standards apply, however in many places tidy casual is acceptable. Cuba Mall also features some cool and more alternative bars. Away from Courtenay Place in the CBD district (Lambton Quay) there are many after work bars frequented by office workers, however, this area becomes deserted in the later hours, and thus these establishments usually do not provide all night partying.
Craft beer bars:
Wellington has experienced a surge in the production and popularity of locally-made craft beer since the mid-90s. As a response to this, one can now expect to find at least a few local beers in any good restaurant, and on tap in bars. While many bars are still in the process of shaking off their supply contracts with the major players (Lion, owned by Asahi) and DB Breweries (owned by Heineken International), there has been an enthusiastic response to small bars specializing in the provision of quality beer, in a similar way to San Francisco, San Diego and Portland.
  • Golding's Free Dive, Leeds St, Te Aro. 12 pm-12 am. Neighborhood bar, six gas taps, one handpump, dog-friendly, serving quality Neapolitan pizza from Pizza Pomodoro over the courtyard.
  • Hashigo Zake, 25-29 Taranaki St (between Molly Malone's and Te Papa), (04) 384-7300. Noon-late. Totally uncompromising beer bar. Local and imported craft beer, wine, whiskey, and sake.
  • Malthouse, 48 Courtenay Place, Te Aro. 12 pm-3 am. 26 gas taps, two handpumps, innumerable bottles, one of the better single malt whiskey selections in town.
  • Little Beer Quarter, Edward St, Te Aro. Sun-Mon 3 pm till late; Tues-Sat 12 pm-late. Great food and beer selection, served in a cozy, friendly little bar.
Courtenay Place nightspots:
  • Establishment, Cnr Blair St and Courtenay Pl, 04 382 8654 (info@.theestablishment.co.nz, fax: 04385 0206). A cheap bar popular with first-year students from Victoria University. Mixed drinks are generally overpriced and low quality, though there are always specials available. Is popular with binge drinking young people, particularly students. Has dress code, though this is often not enforced. 
  • Kitty O'Shea's, Courtenay Pl. Popular, with regular live Irish music.
  • Blend Bar, 118 Wakefield St. The only bar in Wellington where dancing on the tables is allowed. This is a backpackers bar connected to a hostel thus locals don't frequent this bar. It's out of the main bar scene and closes early.
  • Chow & Motel Bar, 45 Tory St, 04 382 8585 (tory@chow.co.nz). A combination restaurant/bar and cocktail lounge in one connected unit. Chow is a restaurant & bar serving Asian fusion food, cocktails, and Sake. Motel Bar is behind Chow with its main entrance in Forresters Lane. According to worldsbestbars.com, it is 5th best bar in the world.  
  • Hummingbird, 22 Courtenay Pl, 04 801 6336 (cafe@hummingbird.net.nz, fax: 04 801 6339). Daily 9 AM-3 AM. Live music.
  • Boston on Blair, 20 Blair Street (Blair Street), 04 384 9070. Wed-Sat 9 pm - 6 am. Late night bar and nightclub playing electro house music from both local and international Djs. Attracts the younger crowd with drink specials on student night (Wednesday) and beers and spirits on Fridays. 
  • Minibar, Courtney Place (Corner of Blair Street). 9 pm - 6 am Tues-Sat. Small and compact with room for up to 80 people inside and 20 outside. Cocktails and drink specials all night, rather pricey (esp on weekends) but you will find a more mature cliental, great music and bar staff that are friendly and down to earth.  
  • Red Square, Blair Street. Next to Boston on Blair, this is a lavish night club named after Russia's red square. Club sounds rock the club from 9 till 4 on Wednesdays and Weekends with cocktails and spirits on offer. No door charge but usually a popular club with Indian men. Tends to enforce a strict dress-code on busy nights.
  • The Residence, Courtney Place. Brand new pool/snooker bar opened in May 2013. Has a bar with live DJ playing quality music all night while revelers can play Pool or Snooker on one of the 20 tables. Popular with young folk.
  • Four Kings, Cnr Courtney Place & Taranaki Street. Best sports bar in town playing live sports from lunch till dinner. Open late nights on Fridays & Saturdays. Has a TAB (betting office) and over 50 big screen tvs. Drinks are reasonable. Popular place to watch premier league games on at 3 or 6 am after a night in town. 
  • Edison's Superette, 21 Blair Street, 029803332. Opposite Boston on Blair, plays club sounds from 9 pm till 4 am. Separate dance floor and bar, plays live sport and has experienced bartenders for cocktails and shots. Regularly holds private parties until 11 or 12.  
  • Basement Bar, 39 Dixon Street. Another backpackers bar located 20mtrs from the corner of Courtney Place. Missed by many visitors, located downstairs under the hostel. Live DJ from 10 pm playing club sounds. Cheap drinks, backpackers and famous strobe light. You will find many tourists here and a few locals.  
  • Famous. New bar on Courtney Place, home to the loudest sound system in Wellington. Has more led lights than you could ever imagine and some of the hottest international and local DJ's. Club gets so busy on weekends that a guest list is enforced until 2 or 3 am. Club regularly advertises cheap drinks on the door but once inside these prices do not exist - be wary before paying. 
  • El Horno. Next to Minibar with a similar layout, long but narrow. Popular among mature young professionals and plays old school club music. Drinks are reasonable and has outside seating, perfect for sitting on a winters night under the heaters or cooling down in Summer.  
Cuba precinct:
  • Havana Bar, 32a Wigan St, 04 384 7041. Havana Bar is attached to the popular Havana Coffee Works. Near the top of Cuba St in an old Wellington character house, it is a nice place to listen to some jazz or just relax out in the outside courtyard bar. Gets loud later at night. 
  • Good Luck, Cuba Mall. Hidden away down underneath Cuba Mall in the basement of a building. Good Luck can be difficult to spot. With a low roof and dim lighting, it is a cozy place for a winter drink. Also good in summer, it can be a little dark and hot in the warmer summer months. 
  • The Matterhorn, Cuba Mall. The Matterhorn has been a popular Wellington bar for many years.
  • Mighty Mighty, Level 1, 104 Cuba St. W-Sa from 4 PM. This is probably one of the hippest and popular places in town at the moment. It often has local and international artists performing. It generally has a door charge on the weekends, though this is generally admission for a live gig. Some nights there isn't a door charge after about midnight- once the live acts have finished and a DJ takes over. Tends to be almost overflowing with hipsters on busy nights and the tiny, sardine can smoking area is an experience in itself.
  • S&M's Cocktail lounge, Cuba St. Wellington's only gay bar currently operating is small but packed on weekends especially. Two floors with the lower floor being a sweaty dance floor. 
  • Fringe Bar, 191 Cuba St, +64 21 251 0589. Until 6 AM weekdays, until 8:30 AM weekends. Gay-friendly, live entertainment, karaoke, comedy, all night bar- has a bit of a reputation as a dive bar and is often populated by seedy characters by the early hours of the morning. Don't be put off though- most of them will be more interested in karaoke than trouble.
  • Valhalla, 154 Vivian St. The home of New Zealand's underground and emerging metal and hardcore artists. Craft beer on tap. Formerly known as Medusa, Valve and Hole In The Wall.
  • Boogie Wonderland, Courtney Place. The only club with a light up dance floor. Jam to the old school classics from early evening until 3 am. Entrance via Courtney Place or via Tory Street behind Burger King through Alice - another hip bar. Most people here are over 30 but the young crowd frequent this bar, so do the married couples and the old generation. 
  • Alice. This is a hip bar connected to Boogie Wonderland, entrance to the club can be made through Boogie or via the side street off Tory Street on the Cnr of Courtney Place. Reasonable priced drinks and cocktails, with the famous teapot cocktails - only place in Wellington to get these. Attracts an older crowd, but don't let that put you off- it has a loose dress code (particularly on quieter nights) and the staff is friendly and professional. A nice, classy place to start an evening. 
Strip clubs:
  • Calendar Girls, Dixon Street. Wellington's largest adult strip club spread out over 3 levels. Recently opened in Wellington after moving from earthquake-damaged Christchurch. There is a door charge after 10 pm and drinks are pricey but the girls are highly professional. An expensive, boutique decor makes this the classiest strip club in town. 
  • Dream Girls, Dixon Street. Next to Calendar Girls, this is a low-quality strip club. Open every night until 5 or 6 am. Inside is small and compact with 3 or 4 girls live at once. Look for the blue neon outside if you can't find this place. Despite it's more down-market feel, Dream Girls is a friendly, casual & relaxed venue with a less stringent dress code, etc. Regularly hosts international 'Show Girl' acts. Has attached brothel (prostitution is legal in NZ). 
  • Mermaids. Owned by two Chinese brothers this is a popular strip club. This place has a dive tank with 'mermaids' in. Live music and great atmosphere, drinks are pricey as usual but an experience none the less. Has attached Brothel (prostitution is legal in NZ).

Shopping in Wellington, New Zealand

  • Old Bank Shopping Arcade (Corner of Willis Street and Lambton Quay). Small upmarket arcade in the former BNZ HQ which opened in 1901. Has an animated musical clock which performs on the hour, and a small display on the remains of a boat washed up here in 1855.
  • The Warehouse, 133 Tory Street. The red shed for cheap clothing and household goods. 
  • New World, 279 Wakefield St (to the east of Te Papa). Daily 07:00 - 23:00. Main central supermarket, with small stores in the Railway Station and on Willis Street.

Safety in Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington is reasonably safe at night, but common sense should prevail, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, as in any other city.

Occasionally, tourists relax security in New Zealand thinking that it is a crime-free paradise. While violent crime against tourists is very rare (and is usually followed up by public outrage against the offenders), opportunistic petty crime can still occur. Taking simple steps like locking valuables away and keeping to well-lit areas at night usually prevent problems. Muggings are uncommon, however, it is best to walk in groups- particularly in the early hours of the morning- particularly in the darker suburban streets surrounding the CBD - for instance The Terrace, Willis Street, Cambridge Tce, and the Waterfront.

Vehicle break-ins are common, especially in shopping malls and 'park and ride' type car parks. Thieves generally target older vehicles with less complicated locks. Removing all valuables and leaving the glove box open (to show that no valuables are hidden) will usually act as a deterrent. Police will normally give you a copy of their report for insurance purposes, but it is very unusual for the thieves to be apprehended or any stolen property to be recovered and returned to its owner.

The only other small worry is some areas of the city center during the very late hours of the night/early hours of the morning, particularly Cuba Street, although a very interesting and great street for shopping during the day, it is also a local hangout for buskers, punks, homeless and other weirdos. Although you're more likely to be approached for change, offers of tinnies (small amounts of cannabis- it is unwise to attempt to buy drugs at night on Cuba St) and drunken conversation violence is fairly uncommon on Cuba Mall and there are numerous bouncers. There are regular fights on Courtney Place on busy nights, typically as the bars stop serving between 3-5 am.

The biggest risk while drinking in town is from groups of people who either can't afford to go to bars, are underage or are too drunk to get in anywhere who drink in parks, alleys and on the street itself. Despite the liquor ban, there are many liquor stores open until late in the CBD. Show common sense and try not to engage with drunks who are looking for a fight.

Despite this, the bouncers are numerous and highly professional as well as typically cooperating with one another and the police to control not just the bar space but also the street. There are also numerous police foot patrols through Courtney Place and Cuba Street.

Recently there has been a more proactive stance taken against alcohol-related crime - arrests for drunken disorderly behavior are common. As long as you show a little common sense and don't drink more than you can handle Wellington has a vibrant nightlife that can be enjoyed as late as 5-6 am. If you meet the right locals you may even get taken to one of the unregistered venues that regularly party until 10 am the next day!

Language spoken in Wellington, New Zealand

English is the main language in New Zealand. 


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