Getting Around Wellington
The best way to get around Wellington is on foot since the downtown area is compact. When your legs need a break – or you want to reach places beyond the central business district – Wellington also boasts a great public transportation system of buses, trains, cable cars and even ferries. Driving around the city can be frustrating for a number of reasons, including a profusion of confusing, one-way streets. Taxis and the ride-hailing service Uber are also available in Wellington, though they aren't the most cost-effective means of getting around.
To reach Wellington, many travelers fly into Wellington International Airport (WLG), which is located less than 5 miles southeast of the city center. Travelers can hail a taxi, hire a rental car or hop on Metlink's Airport Flyer (bus No. 91) to get to central Wellington.
Walking is the best way to get around Wellington, not to mention the least frustrating and most affordable means of transportation as well. Plus, central Wellington is so compact that the entire width of it can be traversed on foot in less than 20 minutes.
Metlink is Wellington's public transportation system of cable cars, trains, buses and ferries, and its online trip planner makes it easy to get from point A to point B using all three transport options. Fares range widely depending on where you want to go. For instance, if you want to take the train from the Wellington station to the Upper Hutt station in Hutt Valley, a one-way ticket will cost you 9 New Zealand dollars (about $6.50). Meanwhile, a bus trip that travels through just one zone will cost you NZ$2 (or roughly $1.50). Traveling through additional zones will add about NZ$1.50 per zone to your one-way fare. Purchasing a Snapper card (rather than paying cash) can save you money on your bus and cable car fares. Ferries, which travel from Wellington to places like Matiu/Somes Island, cost up to NZ$23 (approximately $16) for a round-trip journey.
Driving around Wellington can be more frustrating than helpful. In addition to heavy traffic during rush hour, the city also has a bunch of one-way streets that can be difficult to navigate. Be advised that speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour and that all traffic travels on the left side of the road. If you must drive, you'll be pleased to find that street parking is free for up to two hours on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Plus, if you're planning to visit more than just Wellington on your New Zealand vacation, a car will be helpful for traveling between cities. And if you have a current driver's license, you won't need to obtain an international driving permit. Drivers 21 and older can legally rent cars from the Wellington airport, as well as at different kiosks around the city.
Although taxi and Uber rides aren't the cheapest way to get around, they're definitely some of the most convenient – especially after a night of enjoying Wellington's craft beers. Wellington Combined Taxis is one of Wellington's most reputable taxi companies, and it also has its own free app. Taxis can also be used to get to and from the airport but will generally set you back NZ$30 to NZ$40 (or $21 to $28) per ride.
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