Wellington is blessed with an excellent public transport system, and you can easily see the best attractions without a car.
Call GO Wellington (tel. 04/387-8700; www.gowellingtonbus.co.nz) for information on all urban services. Buses operate daily 7am to 11pm on most routes and the visitor center can give you a comprehensive city map that shows major bus routes and timetables. Timetables are also available from newsstands. The main city bus terminal, Lambton Interchange, is adjacent to the main railway station on the corner of Bunny and Featherston streets. The easiest places to catch buses in the inner city are Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Dixon Street, Cuba Mall, Courtenay Place, and the railway station.
The NZ$10 BusAbout Day Pass gives you unlimited 1-day travel (after 9am) on the GO Wellington and Valley Flyer services. The Family BusAbout Pass (NZ$22) gives you unlimited travel for one adult and five children, or two adults and four children, after 9am week days and all day on weekends, on Go Wellington and Valley Flyer Services. The Metlink Explorer Pass (NZ$22) gives you a full day of unlimited travel after 9am on a wide range of train and bus services in and around Wellington, Hutt Valley, and the Kapiti Coast. If you’d like to travel more cheaply and efficiently, buy the NZ$10 Snapper Card (tel. 0800/555-345; www.snapper.co.nz), which stores NZ$300 and can be used for bus fares and everyday items, and can be reloaded. You simply swipe the card as you get on and off the bus and your fare is deducted. Children ages 1 to 8 use a green snapper card and kids 9 to 13, a red card. All the above passes can be purchased from your bus driver. Snapper Cards can also be purchased from participating retailers. Normal urban bus fares range from NZ$2.50 to NZ$5.
Newlands Coach Service (tel. 04/478-8315; www.newlands.co.nz) operates bus routes 50 to 59 from central Wellington to the northern suburbs. Purchase tickets from the driver; these buses arrive on Featherston Street and leave from Lambton Exchange.
There are taxi stands in front of the railway station; in the Lambton Quay shopping area between Grey and Hunter streets; on Bond Street just off Willis Street; on Dixon Street between Cuba and Victoria streets; and on Cambridge Terrace near Courtenay Place. For service, call Gold & Black Taxis (tel. 04/388-8888) or Wellington Combined Taxis (tel. 04/384-4444; www.taxis.co.nz). You’ll pay a NZ$1 surcharge if you phone for a taxi. Wellington Combined Taxis recently became the first taxi company in New Zealand to receive carboNZero certification, which means they are committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. They use only hybrid, diesel, or LPG cars for their 442-strong fleet.
Tranz Metro operates daily electric train service from Wellington to its outer suburbs. Trains arrive at the railway station on Bunny Street; everything is an easy walk or bus ride from there. You can save money with the purchase of a Group Rover Pass (NZ$35), which gives unlimited travel for a day for up to four people traveling together. A Day Rover Pass costs NZ$14 and both passes are a cheaper way to travel between central and Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Johnsonville, Kapiti, Porirua and the Wairarapa. Call tel. 0800/801-700 in New Zealand, or check www.metlink.org.nz or www.tranzmetro.co.nz for timetable information and discount fares.
If you can avoid using a car in downtown Wellington, do so; you’ll save yourself a lot of hassles and steep parking fees. Traffic congestion is significant during the week and parking can be a problem. If you do drive, there are 10 major parking buildings in the inner city. All are well signposted and are open 24 hours. Rates range from NZ$4 to NZ$15 per hour. There are also pay-and-display parking areas, where a machine dispenses a ticket to be displayed in your car window. Note: If you don’t display a ticket, you will receive a significant fine. On Saturday and Sunday, parking is free in all metered pay-and-display areas and in council parking buildings, but the time limits still apply. If you exceed them, you can also expect a fine. Parking in resident parking zones is also a costly business if you get caught. Tip: If you park in the Te Papa carpark, you pay NZ$3.50 per hour up to a daily maximum of NZ$28, so it works out cheaper to leave your car there all day and walk to your chosen spots. They also offer an evening special of NZ$6 if you park after 5pm and leave by 2am.
By Cable Car
The cable car takes you from Lambton Quay straight up to the Botanic Garden, with a Victoria University stop on the way. It runs daily every 10 minutes from 7am to 10pm Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 10pm Saturday, 9am to 10pm Sunday and public holidays (closed Dec 25). A round-trip ticket costs NZ$6 for adults, NZ$2 for children 5 to 15. Family and senior discounts are available. For information, call tel. 04/472-2199. Please note that the Cable Car will be closed in April 2012 for its next safety survey; normal services will resume May 2012.
The Dominion Post Ferry runs daily between Queen’s Wharf, Somes Island, Eastbourne, and Days Bay Wharf. The trip to Days Bay takes 30 minutes one-way, and Eastbourne Village is a good 10-to 15-minute trip from Days Bay. The one-way fare costs NZ$12 for adults and NZ$6 for children; a family pass is NZ$50. Call tel. 04/494-3339 or 499-1282, or check www.eastbywest.co.nz for timetable information.
Have Scooter, Will Travel
If you have limited mobility, you can enjoy central Wellington and the waterfront on a free mobility scooter. Book it for 4 hours and pick it up from one of four locations—Freyberg Pool, Oriental Parade (tel. 04/499-4444); Wellington City Council, 101 Wakefield St. (tel. 04/499-4444); Fergs Kayaks, Shed 6, Queens Wharf (tel. 04/499-8898); or Wellington Botanic Garden, Tinakori Rd. (tel. 04/499-1400).