Wellington Car Hire

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  • Deutsche Bank names this the world’s most liveable city, it beat off tough competition from the likes of Copenhagen and Vienna.
  • Wellington is home to some of the country’s most successful businesses, including software company Xero.
  • Wellington has more than 20 craft beer bars and breweries, Wellingtonians host Beervana every August to celebrate their love of beer!
  • Wellington declared itself a nuclear-free zone in a benchmark 1982 vote and the whole country declared the same five years later.
  • About 527,800 people live in the Wellington region, which is 11% of New Zealand’s population.
  • Wellington enjoys around 2,110 sunshine hours a year. The warmest month is February, the coolest is July, and the average annual rainfall is 1215mm.
  • Nearly all Wellingtonians are within 3km of the sea which means easy access to the 497km of coastline on offer.
  • Parking in the city centre is free on weekends and public holidays but time restrictions still apply.
  • There is an incredible 24 car hire agencies operating out of Wellington airport for you to choose from.

A short overview of Wellington

When people say New Zealand quite often their immediate thoughts go to Auckland or Christchurch. Don’t be fooled though, Wellington is where the real magic happens. The food scene, art scene, and eclectic murals give this capital city a hip personality unlike any other city in NZ. As cities go, it's really rather small but its compact nature gives it a big city buzz and being the capital, it's endowed with museums, theatres, galleries and arts organisations completely disproportionate to its size.

The city is so compact that over 18000 of its residents can jog or cycle to work. It’s bijou size means it’s a cinch to explore on foot which is handy because you’ll need the exercise to both work up an appetite and burn off some calories, Wellington is jam packed with cool-as cafes, boutique food factories and exceptional restaurants.

What do I need to know about driving in Wellington?

  • Rental vehicles may only be driven on paved roads. Off-road driving is prohibited.
  • You must not park or stop your vehicle on, or closer than 6 metres to, a crossroad unless there are parking spaces or a sign indicating that you can park there.
  • Like in the UK and Australia you drive on the left-hand side of the road so always check to your right at roundabouts.
  • Everyone in your vehicle must wear a seat belt at all time. In New Zealand, it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that everybody follows this rule. If somebody is caught not wearing a seat belt, both the driver and the offender will be fined.

What to do in Wellington?

Wellington has plenty to do and see

The Te Papa museum is like no other place on earth. So much so that lonely planet listed it as one of the top 500 places on earth to visit. This national museum is a must-do when you visit Wellington, spread over six floors this museum is packed with cutting-edge interactive exhibitions. The museum's full name translates to 'container of treasures', which is the perfect description for a museum considered the home of New Zealand stories. Since it opened back in 1998 over 30 million visitors have come through the door, once you have spent even a short while here, you’ll have no doubts as to why this museum is so wildly popular. The museum is open year-round apart from Christmas Day and is free to enter.

One of the most iconic sights in Wellington is the red cable car and no trip to the city is compete without riding it. Every 10-15 minutes the cable car departs from Lambton Quay and makes its ay up into the hills of Kelburn. Although the journey only lasts around 5 minutes the cable car climbs over 120m and offers spectacular views of the city.

Wellington Botanical Gardens

Once you’ve made the journey on the cable car you’ll be rewarded with the incredible Wellington Botanical Gardens. Set over 25 hectares these beautiful gardens are the epitome of peace and tranquillity. Established in 1844, the Wellington Botanic Garden is home to some of the oldest exotic trees in New Zealand. Today, the native and exotic forests are complemented by a duck pond, a begonia house and cafe, colourful floral displays, a herb garden, an Australian garden and the award-winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden. If you venture up in the evening you might catch a glimpse of the glow-worms in around the ponds. It’s also a prime location for taking in views over the city and the harbour.

The Zealandia Ecosanctuary is the world’s first fully fenced eco sanctuary and definitely not something that you would expect to find just a few moments’ drive from the city centre. New Zealand was once an isolated land free from mammals, which meant native plants and birdlife flourished, including flightless kiwi. But with the arrival of humans came pests and predators, which left a lot of this wildlife extinct and many species endangered. Zealandia is a pest-proof ‘urban island’ and the closest thing you will ever find to being in New Zealand before humans arrived. The best way to experience Zealandia is with a tour guide, the two-hour expert led sessions depart four times a day and are the perfect way to soak up all this breath-taking attraction has to offer.

Wellington Zoo

If you didn’t quite get the animal fix you needed at the ecosanctuary Wellington Zoo is just the place for you. Opened back in 1906 they were the first zoo in New Zealand and Wellingtons oldest conservation project. Wellington Zoo is nestled in the city's green town belt and is home to more than 500 native and exotic endangered animals. There are daily talks and animal feedings, and get up close to Red Pandas, Capybaras, Meerkats, Cheetah, Lemurs and Giraffes. If you plan your visit right, you’ll be able to see the keepers feeding the stunning Sumatran tigers. Only a few minutes’ drive outside the city centre and open 364 days a year (closed for Christmas) this is a great day out for the whole family.

If you fancy stretching your legs then there are some amazing walking tracks up and around Mount Victoria. The full loop is around 4.5km and it’s steep in places so worth bearing in mind if you have little legs with you or perhaps not used to walking long distances. Once at the summit the views over the city are captivating and the efforts of the climb will soon be forgotten. What makes this walk even better is that it starts and ends in the city centre so you can fit it in whenever the mood takes you.

Eating out in Wellington

Wellington has some of New Zealand’s top restaurants and cafés

Many of Wellington's eateries won awards for their incredible food and service. From exquisite waterfront seafood restaurants to the more budget friendly bistros there is something for all in the capital of New Zealand. One word of advice, pack your stretchy trousers you’re going to need them.

If brunch is your chosen meal of the day then head to Olive. Established over two decades ago and serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can sit inside for a cosy catch up, or head out the back and sit amongst the plants in the surprisingly tropical outdoor courtyard. With a focus on local produce, dishes are creative, with a range of vegetarian and vegan options that could impress even the most ardent meat eater. Settle in with a coffee, or maybe sample one of their cocktails- you are on holidays after all.

Now who doesn’t love Mexican food? There is something to tickle everyone’s taste buds on the menu at La Boca Loca, so much so they even have a cookbook for you to take home! La Boca Loca places emphasis on using fair trade, organic produce, as well as sustainably raised and sourced meats and in an age where we are all becoming more aware of our environmental impact this makes us love them even more! For dinner, try their house-made tacos with a side of their papas fritas—spicy fried potatoes with chipotle mayo for dipping or perhaps you want to chow down on copious amounts of totopos and guac. Whatever you fancy this bright and welcoming restaurant won’t fail to please.

Mr Go’s is a wallet friendly option that rose like a phoenix after the earthquake hit. Completely destroyed they bounced back, offering a Kiwi take on everything from classic duck pancakes and Gua Bao to Taiwanese popcorn chicken. It’s fun, loud, reasonably priced and you’re guaranteed to leave with a full belly and a smile on your face. The menu is best shared with friends and family so we recommend getting yourself a Gua-Boa (a house-made Taiwanese style bun), filled with your choice of meat (or tofu), then grab a couple of their smaller dishes to share so you can experience all of the mouth watering dishes that the kitchen produce.

Sometimes vegetarians can feel a little left out of the top restaurant list which is why we wanted to include Aunty Mena’s. Serving up Malaysian-style dishes and bottomless jasmine tea, Aunty Mena’s is the perfect spot to hit when you’re in need of a big feed. Their menu includes deep fried mushrooms, dumpling laksa, wonton soup, and so many more delicious animal-friendly options—you’ll honestly be spoilt for choice. Famed for its service and excellent pricing this restaurant is a popular choice and busy all year round.

At the other end of the scale you’ll find the luxurious Charley Noble. Showcasing wood-fired cooking, local ingredients, organic wine and craft beer, Charley Noble is the perfect place to experience Wellington on a plate. A haven for lovers of seafood, Charley Noble’s menu features freshly shucked oysters and diamond shell clams, along with crudo kingfish and house gin-cured salmon.

Their Zesti wood-fired chargrill and rotisserie is the first of its kind in New Zealand from which they serve delicious wood-fired meats and vegetables. If you can get a seat by the large open kitchen for a first-row view of the culinary action.

Transport in Wellington

Wellington Airport (code: WLG)

The airport is located only 8km outside of the city and the journey only takes 15 minutes by car or by shuttle. It is connected to most major cities in New Zealand and to destinations in Australia, Fiji and Singapore.

Buses and trains

Metlink is the supplier of all of Wellington’s regional bus and train networks. There are five train routes which run through Wellington’s suburbs to regional destinations. These include: Johnsonville, Kapiti, Melling, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. Do not miss out on the Wellington Cable car which is one of the top tourist attractions as the historic cable car will take you up to the Botanic Gardens in Kelburn, and you will be able to enjoy marvelous views of the city during your ascent. The cable car can also be used as transport to and from : Kelburn, Salamanca, Talavera, Clifton and Lambton Quay.

Driving Tips

There is a slight shortage of parking in Wellington and it tends to be rather expensive during the day. It is therefore recommendable to park on the outskirts of the city and take transport or walk in.

If the traffic light is flashing amber, you must stop and give way to other traffic.

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FAQs about car hire in Wellington

Most frequently asked questions about hiring a car in Wellington

It’s a simple 9km drive down State Highway One into the city from the airport and should take around 15 minutes.
Car hire averages at about NZ$30 (£15 / A$28) a day for a compact car, deals are available if booking well in advance but expect prices to be higher in peak season.
Wellington International Airport offers convenient on-site car rental services from seven car rental operators. You’ll find our car rental counters on the Ground Level next to domestic baggage claim. On-site you’ll find, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, Europcar, EZI, Thrifty and Hertz.
You need to be over 21 with a valid international license, you can drive for up to 12 months on an international license in New Zealand. You must have held your license for a minimum of one year in order to hire a car. You’ll need to have had your license converted into English if it is not already.
Wellington does have a shortage of parking spaces so it’s best to check that your hotel has parking. Hourly fees apply on weekdays. Weekend parking is free, but time restrictions apply (2 hours free then you need to move).
Wellington does not have any toll roads. However if you are driving up north, you may encounter some toll roads located around Auckland.
The drive takes about 8 hours.
Prices vary depending on the supplier that you have chosen, but can cost as little as $9.37/ day or $16/ rental.
Here are a few convenient petrol stations in Wellington: BP - 15 Taranaki St, Wellington; Z - 174 Vivian St, Te Aro; Caltex - 28 Adelaide Rd, Mount Cook.
The speed limit on major highways linking Wellington to other New Zealand locations is generally 100km for cars.
Wellington is not a very expensive city to travel to when you compare it to New Zealand standards. You’ll spend NZ$93 per day on average.
Wellington is a beautiful city to see through a car. Renting one will give you comfort and convenience while exploring the city.
To the east of the city and a bit far from the centre is Mount Victoria, a small mountain just under 200 meters from which you can get incredible views of the city.
January and February, which is summer for Wellington, are the best months to visit because of the weather and the various festivals taking place around that time.
It begins at NZ$164 for a week, which means NZ$23 a day.
The cheapest offers start at NZ$1076, or NZ$35 per day.
The average price of a litre of fuel in Wellingtoncan vary between NZD 2.10 and NZD 1.83.

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