Getting there & away
Wellington is a bus-travel hub, with connections north to Auckland and all major towns in between. InterCity (04-385 0520; www.intercity.co.nz) and Newmans (04-385 0521; www.newmanscoach.co.nz) buses depart from Platform 9 at the train station. Tickets are sold at the Intercity/Newmans ticket window in the train station. Typical fares include: Auckland (from $70, 12 hours, four daily), Palmerston North (from $33, 2¼ hours, six daily), Rotorua (from $70, 7½ hours, four daily). Fares booked online can be half price!
White Star City to City (06-758 3338; www.white starbus.co.nz) departs once daily from Bunny St, opposite the railway station, running to Palmerston North ($24, 2¼ hours), Wanganui ($29, 3½ hours) and New Plymouth ($47, 6½ hours). Connect at Palmerston North for services to Masterton, Hastings, Napier and Gisborne. Call for ticket info or visit Freeman’s Lotto & Cafe at 23 Lambton Quay.
Kiwi Traveller (0800 500 100, 04-384 7031; www.kiwitraveller.co.nz) runs daily through the heart of the North Island, from Wellington to Palmerston North ($31, 2¼ hours), Taupo ($62, seven hours) and Rotorua ($80, eight hours). With a ticket to your final destination, you can hop-on/hop-off off along the route.
Naked Bus (0900 625 33; www.nakedbus.com) runs north from Wellington to many North Island destinations, including Palmerston North (from $16, 2½ hours, three daily), Napier (from $14, five hours, three daily), Taupo ($39, 6½ hours, one daily) and Auckland ($54, 12 hours, one daily), with myriad stops en route. Buses depart from the Bunny St bus stop. Book online or at Wellington i-SITE; cheaper fares for advance bookings.
Wellington Train Station has two ticket windows (04-498 3000, ext 44324; 6.30am-8pm Mon-Thu, to 1pm Fri & Sat, to 3pm Sun), one selling tickets for Tranz Scenic trains, Interislander ferries and InterCity and Newmans coaches; the other ticketing local/regional Tranz Metro trains (Johnsonville, Melling, Hutt Valley, Paraparaumu and Wairarapa lines).
Long-haul Tranz Scenic (0800 872 467; www.tranzscenic.co.nz) routes include the Overlander between Wellington and Auckland ($119, 12 hours, one daily) departing Wellington at 7.25am (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only May to November); and the Capital Connection between Wellington and Palmerston North ($22, 2¼ hours, one daily Monday to Friday) departing Wellington at 5.17pm. Online discounts (as low as $79 Wellington-Auckland) are often available.
On a clear day, sailing into Wellington Harbour or through the Marlborough Sounds is magical. Cook Strait is notoriously rough, but the ferries are big enough to handle it, with lounges, cafés, bars, information desks, even cinemas! There are two options for crossing the strait between Wellington and Picton (timetables subject to change) :
Bluebridge Ferries (0800 844 844, 04-471 6188; www.bluebridge.co.nz; adult/child $55/25) Crossing takes three hours, 20 minutes. Departs Wellington at 3am, 8am, 1pm and 9pm daily (no 3am service Saturday; no 8am service Sunday). Departs Picton at 2am, 8am, 2pm and 7pm daily (no 8am service Saturday; no 2pm service Sunday). Additional sailings December to January. Cars and campervans under 4m long $130; campervans under 5.5m $165; motorbikes $60; bicycles $15.
Interislander (0800 802 802, 04-498 3302; www.interislander.co.nz; adult/child $72/37) Crossing takes three hours, departing Wellington at 1.55am, 8.25am, 2pm and 6.15pm; departing Picton at 5.45am, 10am, 1.15pm, 6pm and 10.05pm. From mid-November to April there’s an extra 10.35am sailing from Wellington; an extra 2.25pm sailing from Picton. The most flexible (and expensive) fare for a car is $163; for a 5.5m campervan it’s $208; a motorbike $78. Sizable discounts apply for advance, non-changeable and internet bookings. Bicycles $15.
Book ferries at hotels, by phone, online, at travel agents and with operators directly (online is the cheapest option). Bluebridge is based at Waterloo Quay, not far from Wellington Train Station. The Interislander terminal is about 2km northeast of the city centre; a free shuttle bus runs to/from Platform 9 at Wellington Train Station (where long-distance buses also depart). There’s also a taxi stand at the terminal.
Car-hire companies allow you to pick-up/drop-off vehicles at ferry terminals. If you arrive outside business hours, arrangements can be made to collect your vehicle from the terminal car park.
Wellington is an international gateway to NZ. See p709 for information on international flights. Wellington Airport (WLG; 04-385 5100; www.wellington-airport.co.nz; 4am-1.30am) has touch-screen information kiosks in the check-in hall. There’s also currency exchange, ATMs, car-rental desks, cafés, shops etc. If you’re in transit or have an early flight, you can’t malinger overnight inside the terminal. Departure tax on international flights is adult/child $25/10.
Air New Zealand (0800 737 000, 04-474 8950; www.airnz.co.nz; cnr Lambton Quay & Grey St; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat) offers flights between Wellington and most domestic centres.
Soundsair (0800 505 005, 03-520 3080; www.soundsair.com) flies between Wellington and Picton ($79, six to eight daily), Kaikoura ($125, two daily), Nelson ($75, one daily) and Blenheim ($79, one daily).