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"You can't beat Wellington on a good day" is a common saying in New Zealand's capital, a city that bursts with culture and hosts many events. If you are a movie fan you have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the studios responsible for a lot of famous international films. As the transit point for the inter-island ferry service, Wellington is the perfect place to pick up your hire car in New Zealand.
Dubbed by Lonely Planet as “the coolest little capital in the world,” Wellington proves that size doesn’t matter with an eclectic mix of culture, natural beauty, and history, making this a must-see destination on your New Zealand holiday.
A hotspot for all things food, Wellington is also famous for its coffee, craft beer and casual dining. Round out your stops between food trucks with mountain biking, kayaking, and hikes around the harbour,or immerse yourself in Wellington’s iconic museums and art galleries. Located at the bottom of the North Island, Wellington is around a 7-hour drive to Auckland, so make the most of the road trip opportunity by planning stops along the way in Palmerston, Rotorua, and Hamilton.
Some of our favourite things to do while exploring Wellington are:
Summer (December, January, February): Bask in the summer sun and indulge in the local food scene at the Wellington Wine and Food + Craft Beer Festival in February. And if it’s a dose of culture you seek, then look no further than New Zealand Festival and its three-week program of artists, performers, musicians, and more. Enjoy the sun and surf at Wellington’s Oriental Bay—a family-friendly swimming spot.
Autumn (March, April, May): With the temperatures cooling, enjoy exploring the Wellington Harbour and waterfront by boat, or take a short 30-minute drive to Red Rocks to see a colony of fur seals. Those with a green thumb will enjoy time spent in Otari-Wilton’s Bush—a park and botanic garden where you can be introduced to native plants of the region, including Wellington’s older tree which is more than 800 years old.
Winter (June, July, August): Sit back and tune in to the Wellington Jazz Festival each June before Beervana rolls into town in August (along with thousands of fellow beer lovers). While the weather is chilly, make the most of indoor pursuits, dining at some of Wellington’s most famous eateries in Hannah’s Laneway.
Spring (September, October, November): Take a hike to the top of Mount Victoria where you can enjoy 360-degree views of New Zealand’s capital city, including the Hutt Valley and the harbour. Drive just over an hour to premier wine region, Wairarapa, andvisit its many boutique vineyards.
Year-round: Ride on the iconic red Wellington Cable Car,take a journey through space and beyond at Wellington’s digital planetarium, Space Place, and get up close and personal with more than 500 animals that call the Wellington Zoo home. Enjoy a lesson in history and visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa that shares the country’s art, culture and science in one location.
Need to pick up/drop off a hire car early morning or late evening? These depots have extended hours.
|Avis Wellington Downtown, 25 Dixon Street, Wellington: |
Monday to Sunday from 8am - 6pm.
|Budget Wellington, 186 Victoria Street, Te Aro, Wellington: |
Monday to Friday from 7:30am - 6pm.
Saturday and Sunday from 8am - 5pm.
|Europcar Wellington Ferry Terminal, 290 Aotea Quay, Wellington: |
Monday to Sunday from 8:30am - 6:30pm.
|Hertz Wellington Downtown, 38-44 Hania Street, Wellington: |
Monday to Friday from 7:30am - 6pm.
Saturday and Sunday from 8am - 5pm.
|Thrifty Wellington Ferry - Interislander Ferry Terminal, Aotea Quay, Wellington: |
Monday to Sunday from 8am - 6pm.
Need an even earlier pickup or drop off?
(It's about a 19 minute drive from Wellington CBD, depending on traffic)
Here are some other reasons for booking with VroomVroomVroom.
Winters in Wellington frequently see temperatures dip below 0 degrees Celsius. In contrast, summers are generally warm, making this a popular time to visit the city.
Wellington hosts festivals throughout the year, with plenty to keep visitors entertained. For music fans, the Wellington Jazz Festival kicks off in June with a great line-up of musicians. Anybody visiting the city in July or August may be lucky enough to catch the New Zealand International Film Festival.
From Wellington, you can travel to many famous attractions on the North and South Island. Foreign visitors can drive legally up to 12 months, provided they possess a current drivers licence, or in some cases an International Driving Permit.
There are two major roads into the Wellington metropolitan area, State Highways one and two. Fatal crashes have occurred along these single lane highways, so visitors are advised to take care, keep to the left and watch their speeds while using these roads.
Click here for more useful driving tips.
The speed limit is 50km/h in urban areas and 100km/h on highways unless otherwise signed. Always drive to the signposted speed limit.
Driving in Wellington is not unlike driving in other cities. During peak times—early mornings and evenings—there may be extra traffic, so allow extra travel time to get to your destination.
No. There are no toll roads in Wellington.
There is plenty of parking available in Wellington CBD with more than 3000 on-street parking spaces available. Most CBD parks are $4.50NZD/hour Monday-Friday, and $2.50NZD/hour on Saturday and Sunday.
Sights, beaches, culture and events: It's all easier in a rental car. In the busy capital of a beautiful nation, there are tons of things for you to enjoy and explore in Wellington! By having a hire car, you get to experience them with complete convenience and freedom. But where should you start? Check out our travel guide to the very best Wellington activities, accommodations, and restaurants below.
Food & Spice Odyssey
Address: 5b, Level 1, Courtenay Place, Wellington
Discover the wonders of the finest Foods, Spices and Cocktails on offer around the beautiful and cultural city of Wellington. Your expert guide will take you off the beaten track to experience a variety of taste sensations, where you can discover the hidden gems usually only experienced by the locals in Wellington. It's a special treat you shouldn't miss where you'll be taken around the nooks and crannies of specialty food & spice stores and quirky cocktail bars. (Transport provided for non-walking tours)
Te Papa Museum
Address: 55 Cable St, Wellington
Crowned the world leader in interactive and visitor-focused displays, this national museum takes you on a journey through history, art and science. Apart from paying for parking if you drive your rental car to Te Papa, you won't have to open your wallet for anything else, as admission is free. Until 2018, Te Papa is host to a groundbreaking exhibition, 'Gallipoli - the Scale of our War.' The exhibition combines the creativity of Weta Workshop, and the research expertise of our national museum, to remember the Gallipoli landings as never before.
Hours: 10am-6pm everyday & 10am-9pm on Thursdays
Visit this unique wildlife reserve where you can easily feed local animals and interact with the wildlife. Staglands Wildlife Reserve is located in Akatarawa Valley, Upper Hutt. This is a must-see tourist attraction, ideal for families and all types of tourists who love nature. You can also have a picnic, BBQ or dine in at their cosy cafe.
Hours: open daily 9:30 am – 5:00 pm (Except Christmas Day)
A modern zoo with a range of exotic and native animals. Take the young ones to the newest attraction, He Tuku Aroha, a walk-through area that is a love story to New Zealand. They can see native animals such as the Korora/ little blue penguin, and introduced animals such as the kunekune pigs. There are barefoot and vegetable gardens to explore. It's a great day out for young and old and with ample parking for your hire car available, you'll have plenty of time to spare for exactly what you want to see!
Hours: 9.30 am–5.00 pm (last entry 4.15 pm) Every day except Dec. 25th
Cuba Street District
Address: Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
Cuba Street is THE place to be if you have an adventurous palate. Having the two most recent winners of the Cuisine New Zealand Restaurant of the Year Supreme Award, it is a foodie's dream come true. It is also arguably the coolest street in New Zealand, being the creative heart of Wellington. With its boutique shops and Bohemian feel, it attracts emerging artists, creatives, and coffee addicts alike.
The Weta Cave
Address:1 Weka St, Miramar, Wellington
After the great success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it would be a travesty for Lord of the Rings fans to visit Wellington and not see where all of the magic happened. With a trove of different film paraphernalia related to the vast collection of movies that Weta workshops have worked on, don't miss out on this piece of cinematic gold. The Weta Cave is free to visit and is the hub for Weta Workshop's guided studio tours.
Hours: 9am-5.30pm 7 days
Address:101 Wakefield St, Wellington
Located in Civic Square, this is a must-see for those art lovers visiting the city of Wellington. There are ever changing exhibitions in a range of media, workshops, and special late night events.
Address: Martinborough, New Zealand
Visit the award-winning Martinborough wineries, taste fine local wines and have an exquisite gourmet meal. Tranzit Tours offers this incredible gourmet wine tour with a small group departing from Wellington every day. This is an all-inclusive tour that includes visits to four boutique vineyards, lunch in the picturesque Martinborough village, sweets, a cheese platter, local coffee and your transportation. You can choose to depart from Wellington by train, with scenic views of Wellington Harbour and the Wairarapa valley, or you can depart from any Wairarapa town.
Annual events to experience while in Wellington
Wellington Phoenix. Catch football action when the Wellington Phoenix plays home games in the Hyundai A-League. Games at the Westpac Stadium are full of atmosphere, as the Phoenix supporters, 'Yellow Fever' are a lively bunch! The season runs from October to April.
Summer City Festival 1 December 2016-31 March 2017. A series of events that runs through the whole summer, including 90 free events, at various locations throughout the city. Highlights include the Wellington Pasifika Festival on 28 January, and the Meridian Gardens Magic at the Botanic Gardens Soundshell from 10 -29 January.
Address:223 Cuba Street, Wellington
CQ Wellington is an award-winning and charming hotel located in the heart of the bustling Cuba Street District. It is close to Wellington main attractions such as the Wellington waterfront and Te Papa, restaurants, bars and shops. The hotel offers double and twin accommodation, exclusive suites, executive apartments, along with conference facilities, swimming pool, restaurant, cafe and bar. It is an ideal place for leisure or business travellers, and all can expect to experience a relaxed atmosphere.
Museum Art Hotel
Address: 90 Cable Street, Wellington
Recipient of Tripadvisor's Certificate of Excellence in 2014 and featured in Freckle magazine, this accommodation offers a hotel experience unlike any other. From its sombre black exterior with street-side brass sculpture to its invigorating interior, you will be taken on a journey through the mind of amazing NZ artists.
Address: 8 Halswell St. Thorndon, Wellington
Want somewhere to stay that's classy and won't break the bank? Then Wellington's finest hostel is for you. With modern kitchen and bathroom facilities, spacious, clean rooms and friendly staff; you'll feel right at home.
Pizza Pomodoro was the first place to open on Leeds Street in September 2000. They pride themselves on offering the best classic Italian pizzas with unique and original creations, using local and international ingredients. All pizzas are baked in a wood-fired pizza oven, which gives them a unique and delectable flavour. The venue is usually open for takeaways, so order your Pizza Pomodoro and continue on to explore this bustling area.
Hours: Wednesday to Friday: 12 am to 2 pm | Monday to Thursday: 5 pm to 9 pm | Friday and Saturday: 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Ortega Fish Shack
Ranked #1 of 636 Restaurants in Wellington, recipient of Tripadvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2014 and Awarded One Hat - NZ Good Food Awards 2014 "Cuisine Magazine", this fresh New Zealand seafood cuisine experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity that won't disappoint. Hours: 5:30 pm till late, Tue-Sat. For reservations, call at 04 382 9559.
The White House Restaurant
Address: 232 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay, Wellington
Consistently one of the top ranking restaurants in the city, and in smooth operation for over 20 years. This fine dining restaurant is set in the most expensive real estate area in Wellington. Located on Oriental Bay waterfront, The Whitehouse Restaurant offers not only the finest view over the harbour but also a menu rich in fresh local ingredients and elegance.