We're staying in Eastbourne, just accross the Wellington bay. Reaching Wellington is easy with the ferry, in about 20 minutes. It has several stops in the bay. they not only serve freshly brewn coffee, but also a full range of beers and wines. We bought a 10 trip ticket - $85 - on board.
Wellington has a very efficient bus service called Go Wellington. The buses run at regular intervals and go to most corners of this very divided and segregated (by topography) city. Wellington has little pockets of houses in little valleys and ridges. The buses go to many of these.
I found the drivers always smiling and very helpful to me as a 'stranger'.
An example of rates, is I paid $3.50 from Lampton Quay to Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.
Called the Airport Flyer you can easily catch this bus from Lambton Quay to the airport and vice versa. Look for the Flyer signs to find the correct stop, and you have to flag the bus down or it may not stop. It has Airport Flyer on the front.
At the airport just exit the terminal and look for the Airport Flyer sign, it's right out front.
Drivers are very friendly and helpful. I didn't time it exactly but was less than 30 mins trip City to/from Airport.
These buses are the kind that "kneel down", ie they are lowered so it makes it easier to get your heavy bags on board :-) Comfy buses with leather seats and aircon.
There is a screen running so you can see what the next stop is, on a map, as well a recorded voice of a very nice lady announces each stop.
There is free wifi on the bus as well, courtesy of the City. How cool is that!
Service runs every 15 mins between Airport and Lower Hutt.
City to Airport - Adult $8.50
On the website, where it says "Select a route or service" for the bus, click on "091 Airport Flyer", then click on "View PDF timetable and route map".
The Valley Flyer or number 91 bus runs every 15 minutes during the day and costs $8.50 to get from the Airport to town or town to the Airport. It's a bright orange colour so easy to see coming along the road. The bus stop at the airport is just to the right of the exit doors (come down the stairs, out the main door and turn right). The bus stop sign is on the other side of the pillar in front of you!
From town, you can pick it up from many stops (check each stop for the #91) and comes down Lambton Quay, Willis St and Courtenay Place with plenty of places to get on.
There are now three zones in Wellington city - there used to be sections. Look for a map of the zones on the link I give below.
I find the site quite! easy to use and understand.
I had invested in ten trip tickets - and also used the daytripper ticket for $5 if I was going to be out and about a lot - but now the snapper card is in the process of being phased in so it is all brand new again. No ten trip tickets after the end of August 2008 - though they can be used up until December.
Above is the link for snapper cards.
You have to pay to buy them ($10 in the introductory phase and $15 thereafter) and there is a saving of 25%.
They don't work on the city section which costs $1 and is from the railway station to Courtenay Place.
You can top them up on line or at various places around the city with Snapper symbols in the window. And buy a coffee or pay for your drycleaning with them.
They work on GoWellington buses, not the green Newlands coaches, which are a separate entity.
Nor do they work on the trains - called Tranzmetro at the moment but that will change as the rail system in NZ has just been sold again.
The ferry line Interislander connects the North- and South-Island of New Zealand. The ferries go from Wellington over the Cook Strait to Picton on South Island. On their way they pass the picturesque Marlborough Sounds.
As Cook Strait is a windy waterway the passages can be quite rough. So be prepared and bring some medicine for seasickness if you tend to suffer from that.
Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) is one of New Zealand's three largest airports. For the year to 31 March 2002 it handled 3.7 million passengers, of which 0.5 million were international. For the same year there were 110,690 aircraft movements.
The airport has a single 1936m runway and is a major domestic hub in the regional and national transport system, together with providing international services across the Tasman to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Facilities include: Koru Club lounge, duty free shops, book shop, gift store, music shop, NZ souvenir shop, disabled/wheelchair/baby changing facilities, short- and long-term parking.
Although Wellington has an international airport – with the super silly slogan “Wild at Heart" which sounds like a coffee ad – it is not really an international airport. There are just some direct flights to and from Australia and Fiji, those are the international links. If you come from other foreign destinations you will always have to travel via Auckland or Christchurch, and get on a domestic flight to Wellington from there.
Thanks to this tiny international touch Wellington does not have separate international and domestic terminals. All flights depart and arrive at the same terminal.
The carriers with international connections are:
Air New Zealand www.airnz.co.nz (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Fiji)
Qantas www.quantas.co.nz (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane)
Pacific Blue www.pacificblue.co.nz and www.flypacificblue.com (Brisbane only)
Freedom Air www.freedomair.co.nz (Gold Coast and Fiji)
Domestic carriers are:
Air New Zealand
Jetstar (Christchurch and Auckland only)
Sounds Air www.soundsair.co.nz (Picton and Kaikoura)
Air2There www.air2there.co.nz (Picton, Blenheim, Paraparaumu)
Air West Coast www.airwestcoast.co.nz (Greymouth and Westport)
Capital Air www.capitalair.co.nz (Takaka)
(Pacific Blue which serviced Wellington from Christchurch and Auckland has stopped its service in a cooperation deal with Air New Zealand; update January 2011)
Address: Wellington Airport, Kilburnie
The airport is closed from 1.30am to 4am.
Update 23 August 2008
When we arrived at the airport last night before our flight back to Christchurch a live jazz band was playing in the main hall. And we found this rather special. However, it was hard to find a seat, even more so as most flights were late. And the hot food was horrible. The Indian food from Tulsi's - a restaurant which we really like - looked as if it had made a two day trip from India, via Auckland... ;-)
Update Nov 2009
I have only replaced Quantas by Jetstar in the list of domestic carriers. Nothing changes for travellers, as Jetstar is part of Qantas.
El viaje entre las islas Norte y Sur lo hicimos en el Ferry , que es muy cómodo si tienes un día de mar en calma .
Salimos a las 10h35m y llegamos a picton a las 13h 30m pasando por los fiordos y unos paisajes bastante bellos
Viajamos con la compañía que se llama Inter Islander
We did the travel between North and South Islands in the Ferry, which is very convenient if you have a day of calm sea.
We left at 10h35m and we reached picton at 13h 30m through the fjords and quite beautiful landscapes
We travelled with the company called Inter Islander
Only a few car rental companies do have their offices and cars right in the city centre, this makes renting – especially if you want a car for a day only – rather time consuming. You either have to take the bus to the office, or you ask for a pick-up to be taken to the city. Ace is no exception.
As I had always made good experience with them, I went for them when all the cheapies in the city centre were fully booked and/or not cheap at all. I got a pick-up at the Visitor Centre at Civic Square as I stayed at a hotel nearby. They are located just off the city centre in the Hutt Valley in a suburb named Kaiwharawhara (pronounce: Kaifarafara), so not a really long drive. To get back to the city after drop-off I took the bus. There is a stop next to the Ace office.
I was slightly disappointed with this old car for which I paid a rate for which you could have expected something more recent. It reminded me a bit of the prehistoric car we had rented in 1991 when Ace had just started their business with old cars in Auckland (Parnell). Only after my third stop or so I got aware that the central locking system did not work, and so I had left the passenger and rear doors unlocked without noticing it. However, mechanically the car was absolutely fine, and I had no problem at all with it.
Service was very friendly and speedy.
What I disliked were the impertinent excess cover insurance rates. For short-term rentals of up to three days insurance costs nearly as much as the rent. It is really a great way of income gathering for rental companies. They will surely claim it is the insurance companies’ fault… I do not care. It is a rip-off. That is why I always recommend overseas visitors to get a travel insurance with excess cover included.
Open 8am to 5pm (in summer until 5.30pm), closed on Christmas Day (25 Dec).
Late bookings can be arranged at the discretion of the Branch Manager at a fee of $60. Free transfers only in a radius of 10 km of the branch. Shuttles to/from the airport are arranged but at the customer's cost. The ferry terminal is very close, so no problem, this is in the free-shuttle zone.
126 Hutt Road, Kaiwharawhara, Wellington
If you are not in a hurry in Wellington you should take the time to make a boat trip in the harbour. The cruises start at Queen’s Wharf.
There are up to 15 return sailings daily to Matiu/Somes Island and Days Bay. On the weekends they offer Harbour Explorer Tours with stops in Petone, Seatoun, Days Bay, Matiu/Somes Island and Queen’s Wharf.
The trip from Queens Wharf to Days Bay or Petone takes 20 minutes if it is a direct sailing, or 30 minutes if it is via Matiu/Somes Island. A direct trip to Matiu/ Somes Island takes 20 minutes, and it is a further 10 minute ride to Petone or Days Bay.
One way fares to Seatoun, Days Bay or Petone are $ 8.50, return tickets to Matiu/Somes Island $ 18.50 (as April 2008).
Matiu/Somes Island is a reserve administered by the Department of Conservation, reverting back to its original flora and fauna. Pest animals have been eradicated, so bird life is thriving, and even tuatara have been released. There are several easy walkways and picnic spots.
Days Bay is one of Wellington’s best swimming beaches, located in the suburb of Eastbourne. From there you can take a bus to Eastbourne Village (or walk 15 min) which has a good choice of shops and restaurants. Kayak and bike hire at the Days Bay Boat Shed
The main attraction of Petone is the Settlers Museum. Plus, you can go on a shopping spree in Jackson Street. It is praised as one of the country’s most exciting retail precints – I think it is a ridiculous claim. Although Jackson Street is NZ's longest street of its era, and really beautiful with historic buildings and a water well where you can fill up your bottles, it is just a small town shopping street that does not compare to anything you will see in Wellington.
The only direct bus connection to and from the airport is the Airport Flyer. You recognise it easily by its striking orange colour. (The Valley Flyer is purple, the GoWellington buses yellow, and Newsmans buses green.)
Fares depend on where you want to go, and are from NZ$ 3.50 to 10.00. Our trip from the airport to the Railway Station, for example, cost NZ$ 6.50 per person. To Courtenay Place it costs 5.50.
The Flyer runs at 30 minute intervals, starting from the airport at 6.20am until 8.20pm (Mon – Fri), on weekends and public holidays from 6.50am to 8.50pm.
If you plan to travel back to the airport on the same day or make more bus trips buy a day pass for $ 12 (= Star Pass). It allows you to travel on all Wellington buses except Newmans, and as far as Eastbourne on the other side of the harbour.
Update 23 August 2008
New fares from 1 September 2008. They write: "The fares remain either unchanged, go up 50 cents or one dollar." Now you know everything ;-)
Update November 2009
The Airport Flyer has been updated dramatically, travelling now is fantastic for someone who does not know the city at all. Not only do the new buses have nice leather seats and free WiFi, also all stops are announced and indicated on a digital display and a screen with a map. Tell the driver where you want to go to and he will tell you at which stop you have to get off.
Many travelers spend time in Wellington before crossing the Cook Strait to move to the South Island. Wellington port is well organised and you will not have problems in boarding your car.
Just remember to be at the port 2 hours before departure (it takes time to board all the vehicles).
The crossing lasts 3 hours and the journey is pleasant. The ferry is is equipped with a self service area, a kids area, bars and a "cinema".
I suggest a window seat not to miss the stunning views on South Island!
Wellington has the best working railway system in New Zealand (to compare: Christchurch has none). So if you plan a trip to the outer suburbs like Upper Hutt or even further out to Paraparaumu, consider taking the train. The railway station is conveniently located next to the Old Government Buildings in the Parliamentary Zone.
There are four major commuter lines, leading to Johnsonville, Paraparaumu, Melling, and through the Hutt Valley to the Wairarapa.
They also have ten trip passes and lower fares for trips outside the peak traffic times. But already normal travel is cheap. For example, downtown Wellington to Johnsonville costs $ 3.50 and 2.00 only off peak. To Paraparaumu it costs 9.00 or 6.50 off peak. To get to Masterton comes to $ 14.
If you go to a rugby game or a concert in the Westpac Stadium – Wellington’s “Cake Tin” next to the Railway Station – you get special fares on the day of the event upon presentation of the ticket. Special tickets also for groups and on weekends.
However, on the weekends the service - especially to the Wairarapa - is very poor. There are just two trips per day in each direction, one in the morning, one in the evening. So trips have to be well planned.
More info about the Tranzmetro network here
Update 23 August 2008
Like the bus fares, also the train fares go up on 1 September 2008. The lowest fare not at all, others 50 cents or 1 dollar.
Fare info here:
It is easy to get around in Wellington by bus. Fares depend on the distance and the zones you want to go to.
To travel in the city section costs NZ$ 1 only, a trip covering the maximum of six zones comes to NZ$ 6.
If you intend to stay several days and not make too many trips each day you can save some money with the 10 trip SmartCard. One zone costs $ 1.20 instead of 1.50, and six zones 4.80 instead of 6.00.
The best deal for people who make many trips is a day pass. This covers three zones and costs $ 5.00. Those three zones are fairly sufficient, as they cover all the major tourist destinations, including Mt. Victoria, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Otari-Wilton Bush, Oriental Bay etc.
Make sure you get on a Stagecoach with the day pass. It is not valid on other bus services like Mana and Newlands Coach Service, and the Flyer (airport bus).
Another great ticket is the Star Pass, a day pass for $ 10 ($ 12 from 1 Sep 2008). This includes the Stagecoach Flyer to and from the airport, and the trip around the whole harbour to Days Bay and Eastbourne.
You get the day passes from the bus driver.
Special fares apply to the Cable Car, the Harbour ferry and other means of transportation.
Metlink Service Info Phone (0800) 801 700
New Fares from 1 September 2008
The official information in the buses says that the fares will go up on 1 September 2008 - and this means they will remain unchanged, or go up 50 cents, or 1 dollar LOL
The city section ($ 1) and 1 zone ($ 1.50) remain unchanged, 2 zones go up by 50 cents to $3, and so on.
The Day Tripper stays at $ 5.
The Star Pass goes up from $ 10 to $ 12.
More info about the new bus fares: