Wellington probably doesn’t get the tourist attention it deserves, probably because it’s seen as a long- haul destination and is somewhat isolated, situated somewhere between the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean. The reality is that Wellington has much going for it. If you’ve had to spend most of your budget getting here, we can help you save money without sacrificing your enjoyment while you’re here.
New Zealand is probably responsible for producing more backpackers than any other country in the world, so, as you might expect, there are plenty of low cost hostels here, all offering a full range of facilities. Two popular choices are Lodge in the City and Nomads.
Get to the Very Heart of New Zealand
The National Museum, Te Papa Tongerewa, offers free admission and is a great way to learn about New Zealand, Maori heritage, the environment, and the national ecosystems. Nearby, in Civic Square, you’ll come across the City Gallery, also free, with a good selection of contemporary visual art, among other exhibitions. You can enjoy a good cup of coffee, or a reasonably priced lunch at the Nikau Gallery Café here.
For a view of the city from above, strike out for Lambton Harbour, where, for just a few dollars, the ride on the Wellington Cable Car (a funicular railway) offers stunning views across the city and harbour. If you’re in the mood for the 40-minute stroll back, you can take in Wellington Botanic Gardens with its Japanese Rock Garden.
Once back in the harbour, recuperate with a drink at one of the bars or cafes. If the weather’s good, you’ll find people socialising all across the waterfront. Lambton Harbour, Queen’s Wharf,and Oriental Bay, with its little beach, are all great places to hang out and watch life go by. At Queen’s Wharf, you can hire kayaks inexpensively to explore the bay. If that sounds a bit energetic, film buffs will be happy to know that New Zealand’s involvement with the Lord of the Ring franchise, and other big screen ventures, has inspired several tours to movie locations.
Tuck into some tucker
Being a cosmopolitan destination, Wellington is home to every type of cuisine. In fact, the city has more restaurants per head than New York, making it a little easier to find a good, cheap meal. Coffee shops, such as Fidels and Deluxe, serve food of a similar standard to that offered by far more expensive restaurants.
Lambton Quay has a food court with stalls offering a wide range of fare at low prices. Many Asian restaurants offer “all-you-can-eat” buffets– a good way to conserve your cash for a night out. Chow is a good, low cost, option for ordering à la Carte.
For something quirkier, Sweet Mothers Kitchen specializes in Cajun, Creole, and Mexican food. Sushi fans should make a beeline for the sushi train at Catch Sushi Bar on Courtenay Place.
When in Wellington
Wellington comes alive at night and one of Wellington’s comedy clubs, such as The Fringe on Cuba Street, is an ideal place to kick off your evening. Afterwards, the clubs and bars on Courtenay Place are where all the locals party the night away. Drink prices are reasonable and, because there are so many clubs to choose from, most offer free admission. The best are Shooters (which also offers good food), the Mexican themed Coyotes, and the ever-popular Matterhorn.