Well, well, Wellington – if it isn’t the cultural capital of New Zealand.
With over 496,000 residents (10% of the country’s total population), the Windy City sure does know how to draw a crowd.
Not only is it home to a never-been-washed, autographed plate David Beckham once dined off, it’s also renowned for its stunning scenery, friendly locals, and vibrant café culture.
Yep, Welly’s just oozing with a lively energy that makes you wonder what your next adventure will be. No wonder it was rated the ‘coolest little city in the world’ by Lonely Planet.
But if living in Wellington is next on your agenda, it’s important to weigh up the good and bad before packing your bags.
Living in Wellington: Pros and Cons
Living in Wellington doesn’t just give you access to David Beckham’s dirty old plate. It also accommodates an adventurous lifestyle and offers endless culinary experiences. But Welly isn’t immune to the odd negative trait, either.
Pro: It’s great for getting outdoors
New Zealand in general is loved for its natural beauty and access to outdoor activities, and Wellington is no exception. There are over 100 parks and playgrounds in Wellington city alone, and the area is surrounded by lakes, mountains, beaches, and walking and mountain bike tracks aplenty. It’s easy to escape the city to postcard-perfect seclusion.
Con: The weather could be better
If you’re not used to cold winters, Wellington could be a bit of a shock to the system. And if you’re a New Zealand newbie, it can take a while to get used to the earthquakes and tremors. Wellington’s weather can be pretty unpredictable – there’s even a Welly Brolly Fails Subreddit proving why it’s called the Windy City.
Pro: There’s always something to do
Your weekend agenda will never be empty with plenty of things to do in Welly. Wander down a vibrant laneway for your morning brew, check out the blooms at the Botanic Gardens, make some new friends at Wellington Zoo, or taste your way through the Night Market. There’s truly something for everyone, and plenty of local festivals and events to put on your calendar, too.
Con: Renting is expensive
Pro: Dining out never disappoints
Foodies: Unite! Wellington is flush with hip bars, trendy cafés, and new restaurants popping up all over – not to mention the local roasteries and breweries. If having easy access to good coffee and eats is a top priority for you, Welly has your tastebuds covered.
Best Wellington Suburbs to Live In
If you’re moving to Wellington but aren’t sure which area to call home, these are some of our favourite spots to plant your roots in Welly, whatever your lifestyle.
With the beautiful Botanic Gardens and the Carter Observatory on its doorstep, leafy Kelburn is a great spot to live if you want the convenience of inner-city living with a side of peace and quiet. Just 1km from the CBD, Kelburn is home to the main campus of the Victoria University of Wellington and is just minutes from many of Wellington’s primary and secondary schools, making it a great area for students and families. It’s also the final stop on the iconic Wellington Cable Car ride.
The closest seaside suburb to the CBD, Oriental Bay is a well sought-after location for a reason. If you’re a fan of the beach, Oriental Bay puts you in prime position to swim in the summer months. With great views and all the amenities you need nearby, if you can find a place here, snap it up quick – tenants tend not to leave because they love it so much!
If quirky is your thing, Newtown is for you. Buzzing with boutiques, cafés, and bars, Newtown is a hipster’s dream, with a sense of community unlike anywhere else in the city. Newtownians range from students and young professionals to families and the elderly, and offers two primary schools and the Wellington Hospital. The suburb also hosts the annual street fair as part of the Newtown Festival.
Wellington’s Dining Scene
The city is said to have more cafés, bars, and restaurants per capita than New York City, so it’s no surprise Welly’s dining scene never fails to satisfy come mealtime.
Courtenay Place – Te Aro
The main street of the Courtenay Quarter in Te Aro, Courtenay Place is known for its dining scene and nightlife. It’s chock-a-block with tempting menus, from burgers and pizza to traditional Asian fare and New-Orleans grub, so even the fussiest of eaters is sure to find a dish they love. This is also where you’ll find Monsoon Poon, home of David Beckham’s dinner plate.
Cuba Street – Te Aro
Another Te Aro local, take a wander down Cuba Street and see where your tastebuds take you. From Venetian-style tapas and wine to rustic French-Italian, this foodie hotspot is buzzing with eatery options – perfect for romantic date nights or casual dining with the family.
Culture in Wellington
Wellington has a great mix of visual and performing arts, live music, and a fascinating history waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking to ignite your imagination or simply get out of the house on a Saturday, this cultural hub has plenty on offer.
BATS Theatre – 1 Kent Terrace, CBD
The hip BATS Theatre has been delighting Welly locals and visitors alike since 1989 with its performance spaces and boutique bar. Affordable and unpretentious, and hosting upcoming and established talent, the vibrant BATS Theatre is your go-to for discovering the next big thing in theatre. Here you can catch comedy, dance, improvisation, musicals, and family-friendly shows.
Circa Theatre – 1 Taranaki Street, Te Aro
With a reputation as one of New Zealand’s liveliest theatres, Circa Theatre never fails to entertain and inspire visitors. Its waterfront location and world-class shows have helped maintain its place as one of Welly’s favourite venues. Circa Theatre’s exciting program consists of everything from musicals and dance to comedy and ghost stories.
Wellington Writers Walk
Picturesque waterfront views and sculptural quotations combine on this unique walk to remember, ideal for lovers of literature and poetry. The Wellington Writers Walk features 23 quotations from some of New Zealand’s best-known writers, taking form in contemporary concrete plaques and inlaid metal text. It was opened in 2002 as part of the NZ International Festival of the Arts, and continues to surprise and delight people of all ages on their seaside strolls.
Though it’s generally mild and temperate, Windy Wellington has a tendency to be unpredictable with its weather. Be prepared for every season with these tips.
Summer in Wellington brings average daily temperatures of around 19°C – 21°C, so you can enjoy the sunshine without sweating your face off. Summers are generally pleasant with comfortable humidity, so this is the perfect time to enjoy swimming and outdoor activities. Don’t forget your sun protection!
Cool and clear, autumn in Wellington sees average daily temperatures of around 14°C – 19°C. While things are cooling off, autumn remains pleasant enough to stroll through the many parks and check out the changing colours of trees.
You can expect more rain than frost during Welly’s winters, with average daily temperatures of around 6°C – 12°C. You’ll definitely need a good raincoat or spray jacket and some waterproof walking shoes if you’re looking to venture outdoors.
With the city in bloom and the sunshine emerging, spring in Wellington is a great time to explore the city – and catch a beautiful sunrise. Average daily temperatures are around 14°C– 17°C, and Daylight Savings starting in October means more time for activities!
Getting Around Wellington
Wellington has an extensive public transport network to get you from A to B.
With around 2,800 stops on over 100 routes, Wellington’s bus network is an affordable and convenient way to travel pretty much anywhere in the city and beyond. If you’re planning to travel by bus in the Greater Wellington region, a prepaid Snapper card is a great way to save some money and time.
Wellington has five train lines travelling to Johnsonville, Waikanae, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, and Masterton.
Whether you’re using it for your daily commute or just to tick the experience off your bucket list, the Wellington Cable Car is a pleasant way to travel through the CBD and up to Kelburn for knockout views.
Wellington’s ferries operate between central Wellington and Days Bay (near Eastbourne), Seatoun, and Matiu/Somes Island.
Like with most cities in New Zealand, it’s easy to order a taxi from your phone, hail one in the street, or find taxi ranks in main streets and near popular attractions.
Take some stress out of your move to Wellington with our moving checklist.
Tags: City Guides