Wellington, New Zealand's capital, is a lively city with many cultural events, excellent restaurants, a beautiful harbor and part of the country's impressive nature. In short: Wellington is New Zealand in a nutshell.
The city has almost 400,000 inhabitants.
Wellington is located on the southwesternmost tip of the North Island, on the Cook Strait, the narrow strait which separates it from the South Island. North of town lie the mountains of the Rimutaka Range; the Aorangi Mountains lie east of Wellington.
Being the country's capital it's no surprise that the government is one of Wellington's largest employers. The city is also the national education center with many institutes for higher education. Thanks to an extensive promotion campaign, tourism has increased significantly in recent years. Most visitors are New Zealanders, but more and more cruise ships also call at Wellington's harbor. There are also many conferences held in New Zealand's capital. About 10% of the working population works in tourism or related services.
Wellington International Airport is situated 8 kilometers southeast of the city center and is easily reachable by rental car. The airport lies at the end of Highway 1. From Wellington's center you therefore simply drive to Highway 1 (well indicated everywhere) and follow the signs to Rongotai/Airport. You drive via the Mount Victoria Tunnel.
The city has an excellent public transport network, consisting of buses and trolley buses. For tourists there's a special bus, CitySights, along the main places of interest, like Te Papa, Wellington Zoo, the Carter Observatory and the ZEALANDIA Karori Sanctuary. There's also the Wellington Cable Car between Lambton Quay and Kelburn and there are train connections with other places on the North Island. From the train station interregional buses leave, for example to Auckland, New Plymouth, Napier and Hastings.
It isn't difficult to find your way around Wellington by rental car. In the center you have to pay for street parking and often you're only allowed to park 1 or 2 hours. It's easier to park your car in one of the parking garages in and around the center. Outside the center the so-called 'coupon parking' often applies. This means you can park for free the first two hours, but after that you have to place a coupon behind your windshield. These coupons can be bought at most (neighborhood) supermarkets. From Wellington you can make great trips by rental car, for example to the wine regions of the North Island.
Wellington has a large choice of accommodations ranging from basic guesthouses to midrange hotels, so-called aparthotels (apartments) and luxurious accommodations. There are some branches of international hotel chains. In summer months (December through February) many empty rooms in student houses are rented out. Ideal for budget travelers. Lower Hutt, on the north side of the bay, at less than 15 kilometers from the city center, is an alternative place to stay. From the rooms on Petone Beach you have a great view of the bay.
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