Wellington is the perfect city to spend a few days and get your fill of amazing coffee, local brews, live music, great food and vibrant culture all while on a budget. The country’s capital is easy to get around and there is so much to see and do!
While I was doing a Working Holiday in New Zealand and living in Auckland I caught eye of a great flight deal to Wellington and decided to spend a solo weekend exploring the city.
Wellington is a hot spot for local craft breweries and gourmet coffee. If you love beer and coffee this is the place to be. Arguably Wellington has some of the best coffee in the New Zealand depending who you talk to.
Being on a budget, I did some research ahead of time to plan my trip to ensure I made the most of my solo weekend in Wellington. If you are headed to Wellington on a budget, I’ve compiled a list of a few great spots I ate, people watched in cafes, tasted local beer and explored while there.
Budget Friendly Ways to Spend Your Time in Wellington
Eat and Drink
Fortune Favors is a great local brewery in the heart of the city on Leeds Street serving tasty food and great craft beer brewed right on site. The atmosphere is buzzing with a cool laid back vibe in an industrial style setting. Perfect spot for day or night drinks either catching up with friends or grab a pint solo. This place can fill up pretty fast especially on a weekend night.
Goldings Free Dive is also located on Leeds Street and this local gem is far from fancy with a comfortably quirky, relaxed, friendly vibe. Known for its ever-changing line of local beers, you can be sure to taste some of Wellington’s best brews. If you’re in the mood for a bite to eat, order a pizza from across the street at Pizza Pomodoro. They deliver the pizza right to you at the bar and you won`t regret it. Neapolitan style, gigantic and mouth-watering delicious. This pizza does not disappoint. I ordered one to myself and it doubled as lunch for the next day. Perfect for budget planning meals. This spot is another great hang anytime of the day. I opted for a craft brew while devouring my pizza over a good book. Let’s say I was quite content. (Note: Pizza Pomodoro is only available starting at 5pm.)
There are loads of fantastic cafes in Wellington. One I highly recommend is Husk Brewery, Coffee Roastery and Eatery. Husk roasts their coffee beans on site and they also have their own brewery. There is a full menu ranging from brunch to dinner and late night eats. This was my go to place for coffee and breakfast on both mornings I was in Wellington since it was only a short walk from the hostel I was staying. I completely loved the vibe of it. Its all open-concept so you can see the brew tanks while you sip on freshly roasted coffee with a hint of hops in the air. Trust me when I say the coffee is delicious. I had to order two each time. Bring a good book and its the perfect way to start your morning before venturing out for a day of exploring Wellington. Or check it out later in the day and try out a craft brew.
Places to Explore
Te Papa Museum
Cost: Free (There is no charge to enter the museum.)
Fully named Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, this is a must see on your trip to Wellington for a cultural New Zealand experience. Learn about the rich history of the Maori culture, gaze upon beautiful native art, and explore a variety of exhibitions throughout six floors of all things New Zealand. You can spend so much time in this museum and still feel like you haven’t seen it all. I went two days in a row while in Wellington. The museum also has some eatery and coffee options inside the building. Centrally located on the waterfront at 55 Cable Street.
Mount Victoria is stunning and a must do in my opinion. It was actually my favourite activity I did while in Wellington. The hike to the top is a great workout especially after tasting some local cuisine and beer. The walk takes you through tree covered pathways and you feel as if you are not even in the city. The views are absolutely breathtaking once you reach the top and well worth it. Be prepared for incredible views of the city, ocean, mountains and houses all stacked along the hillside. Keep in mind its very windy when you get to the top lookout so bring some extra layers as the temperature can drop quite a bit.
See a Movie
Cost: Around $13.50 NZD
Wellington is known for unpredictable weather. Rain and heavy winds can hit at any given time. If you get caught in an angry downpour, check out a film at The Reading Cinema located in Courtenay Place.
Walk along Cuba Street, known for funky shops, cool cafes, restaurants and more. Snap some photos of the sculptures, people watch and just embrace the vibrancy of the street.
Take the Cable Car and Check Out the Botanical Gardens
Cost: Cable Car – $7, Botanic Gardens – Free
If you really want to be a tourist take the cable car to the Botanic Gardens with views of Wellington’s business area. Enjoy 25 hectares of beautiful lush gardens right in the city including a variety of attractions such a walking tracks, a duck pond, the main garden and more.
Walk Along the Waterfront
Wellington has a beautiful waterfront with picturesque views of the mountains and ocean lining the city. Stroll along for some scenery, people watching and grab a bite to eat at one of the local food trucks. If you happen to be there on a Sunday make sure to stop by the Harbourside Market on the waterfront near Te Papa Museum. Wellington’s oldest market is home to a variety of stalls featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, artisan cuisine and produce. There are many delicious options to suit all taste buds.
Getting to Wellington From the Airport
Getting to the city from the airport: There is a bus called the Airport Flyer which runs every 10 to 20 minutes from the airport directly into Wellington city and costs about $12 NZD. The trip will take you around 20-25 minutes from the airport to the city.
Where to Stay on a Budget in Wellington
As a budget traveler I usually stay in a hostels. It’s a great way to meet people especially when solo travelling. The hostel I stayed at was centrally located and only a 5 minute walk from Cuba Street. When booking hostels I use Hostel World as they usually have great rates and list all of the hostels in the area along with reviews from fellow travellers. You can book hostels here at www.hostelworld.com.
Wellington offers lots of activities to do while in the city and these are just a few I did while there in the Winter. If you are there in the Summer make sure to hit the beach!
Have you been to Wellington? What did you love most about the city? Would love to hear about your experience, share in the comments below!