Wellington on a budget: the best things to do
You won’t blow your budget in Windy Welly with these travel tips.
- March 2022
Wellington is a happening city. It’s dynamic, fun, sophisticated and cultured. Even if you’re not flush with cash, it’s easy to have ball here in the Windy City, with plenty of free and low-cost things to do. There are museums and galleries galore and incredible landscape to explore. You can hang out on eclectic Cuba Street, fine dine at the city’s coolest food trucks, or lose yourself in the city’s movie-making scene. It’ll blow your socks off. But it won’t blow your budget.
Ride the Cable Car
Completely affordable and totally cute, a ride on the Wellington Cable Car, up through the hillside terraced houses to the panoramic peak, is an iconic Wellington experience. The cable car runs every 10 minutes from the city centre, and it’s a short but scenic trip to the top where the views are anything but cheap. If you want to save a little cash, buy a one-way ticket to the peak then enjoy an easy 40-minute walk back down through the hillsides of the Botanic Garden.
Take in the views from Mount Victoria
Okay, you know Wellington is good looking, but if you want to see just how good looking it is, walk through pine forests and up to the top of Mount Victoria. The view from the lookout is an absolute knockout. You can drive up, but the walk is fairly manageable and way prettier with various lookouts along the way. The full loop is less than 5 kilometres. It takes roughly 90 minutes to walk up to the summit and back via Oriental Bay. Time it so you hit the peak at sundown if you want to double-down on the scenery.
Lose a day at Te Papa
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is an epic showpiece of all things New Zealand. It’s free to enter, and you will easily lose a day at this national museum with its interactive historical displays, art exhibitions, light installations, fashion collections, earthquake simulator and more. It also hosts a range of events from musical performances to workshops, talks, cultural days and parties after dark.
Eat up at the markets
Wellington’s food and coffee scene is epic, and you can dive right into it without the fine dining price tag by chowing down at one of Wellington’s many markets. They’re an event in themselves, with a vibrant, creative atmosphere. Head to Cuba Street on Fridays and Saturdays for the sizzling street food and good times of the Wellington Night Market. On Sunday mornings, head to the Harbourside Market which is on the waterfront just near Te Papa. Besides all the local produce, it’s a global street food fiesta.
Have a good time in the Gardens
Free to enter and gorgeous to hang out and enjoy, the Wellington Gardens are popular with locals and tourists alike. They’re in the heart of the city and stretch across 62 acres so you can find a spot for a lush picnic (with your market spoils) and relax. Go exploring (the Bolton Street Cemetery is fascinating), catch some free live music or go on a free, informative, guided walk. You’ll be amazed by what you find. In summer, the gardens are lit up in multicolours at night, with local musicians providing the soundtrack.