Metlink (0800 801 700; www.metlink.org.nz) is the one-stop-shop for Wellington’s regional bus and train network, including the Stagecoach Flyer, Stagecoach and After Midnight buses, and Tranz Metro trains, all detailed below.
There are a lot of one-way streets in Wellington, the traffic is surprisingly snarly and parking is a royal pain in the rump. If you’ve got a car or a caravan, park on the outskirts and walk or take public transport into the city centre.
Aside from the major international rental companies (all with desks at the ferry terminals), Wellington has several operators that will negotiate cheap deals, especially for longer-term rental of two weeks or more, but rates generally aren’t as competitive as in Auckland. Rack rates range from around $40 to $85 per day; cars are usually a few years old and in pretty good condition. Operators include:
Ace Rental Cars (0800 535 500, 04-471 1176; www.acerentalcars.co.nz; 126 Hutt Rd; 8am-5pm)
Apex Car Rental (0800 939 597, 04-385 2163; www.apexrentals.co.nz; 186 Victoria St; 8am-5pm)
Omega Rental Cars (0800 667 722, 04-472 8465; www.omegarentals.com; 96 Hutt Rd; 7.30am-5pm)
If you plan on exploring both North and South Islands, most companies suggest you leave your car at Wellington and pick up another one in Picton after crossing Cook Strait. This is a common (and more affordable) practice, and car-hire companies make it a painless exercise.
There are often cheap deals on car relocation from Wellington to Auckland (most renters travel in the opposite direction). A few companies offer heavy discounts on this route, with the catch being that you may only have 24 or 48 hours to make the journey.
Turners Auctions (04-587 1400; www.turners.co.nz; 120 Hutt Park Rd, Lower Hutt; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm Sat), not far from the Top 10 Wellington Holiday Park, buys and sells used cars by auction. Also check noticeboards at backpackers for cheap deals.
Frequent and efficient Stagecoach (0800 748 885; www.stagecoach.co.nz/wellington) buses run from 7am to 11.30pm on most suburban routes. Buses depart the Lambton Quay Interchange (near the train station), or the main bus stop on Courtenay Pl near the Cambridge Tce intersection. Colour-coded route maps and timetables are available at the i-SITE and convenience stores around town. Fares are determined by zones: there are nine zones, and the cheapest fare is $1.50 for rides in zone one, $2.50 for two zones (maximum fare $9.50). A Wellington Daytripper ticket (within zones one to three) costs $5, allowing unlimited bus travel for one day (excluding the Stagecoach Flyer, After Midnight buses and services to Hutt Valley). An all-day STARPass for $10 allows unlimited rides on all bus services.
After Midnight (0800 801 700; www.metlink.org.nz) bus services depart the central entertainment strips (Courtenay Pl and Cuba St) at 1am, 2am and 3am Saturday and Sunday on a number of routes to the outer suburbs. Fares range from $4 to $7, depending on how far away your bed is.
Tranz Metro (0800 801 700; www.tranzmetro.co.nz) operates five electric train routes running through Wellington’s suburbs to regional destinations. Trains run frequently from 6am to midnight, departing Wellington Train Station. The routes are: Johnsonville, via Ngaio and Khandallah; Paraparaumu, via Porirua, Plimmerton and Paekakariki; Melling, via Petone; the Hutt Valley; and the Wairarapa, calling at Featherston, Carterton and Masterton. Timetables are available from convenience stores, the train station, Wellington i-SITE and online. Standard fares from Wellington to the ends of the five lines range from $3.50 to $14. A Day Rover ticket ($10) allows unlimited travel on all lines except Wairarapa.
Taxi ranks are conveniently placed around town (Cambridge Tce, Courtenay Pl, Te Papa museum etc). Operators include:
Green Cabs (0508 447 336)
Wellington Combined Taxis (0800 384 444)
Wellington City Cabs (0800 388 8000)