Where to Stay in Wellington (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Wellington is so much more than New Zealand’s capital city. It’s also the culinary and arts and culture capital and, according to Lonely Planet, one of the coolest cities to visit in the world.

Located at the southern tip of the North Island, this little city packs a punch. It may only cover 442 square kilometers (171 square miles), but it’s home to more cafes and restaurants per capita than New York!

Brimming with history, culture, beaches, and mouth-watering cuisine (and let’s not forget excellent wine!), Wellington can be overwhelming for a first-time visitor. So we’ve put together a handy Wellington neighborhood guide to help you plan your trip with ease.

 

Quick Tips – Best Places to Stay in Wellington

  • Where to stay in Wellington for your first time – Mount Victoria
  • The best area in Wellington to stay in (on a budget) – Island Bay
  • Where to stay in Wellington for nightlife – Te Aro
  • The coolest place to stay in Wellington – Brooklyn
  • Where to stay in Wellington for families – Kapiti Coast

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

Mount Victoria
Part of the Wellington CBD, residential Mount Victoria places you slap bang in the middle of the action. A collection of excellent restaurants, bars, and museums are just a stone’s throw away, making this easily the best area to stay in Wellington.
Places to Visit:
  • Pack a picnic and hike to the top of the Wellington Lookout
  • Admire the Richard Byrd Memorial, commemorating a Kiwi aviator and Polar explorer
  • Ride up the nearby Wellington Cable Car for a bird’s eye view of the city

 

Where to Stay in Wellington

Looking for a funky or affordable neighborhood to stay in? Here are our top recommendations for the best places to stay in Wellington:

 

Best Hostel in Wellington: The Marion Hostel in Wellington

The Marion Hostel is a funky, laid-back and sociable hostel with an enviable location right in the center of the action.

Just steps from Wellington’s best entertainment venues, Courtenay Place and Cuba Street, guests can look forward to a roof terrace, free unlimited Wi-Fi, and an enormous kitchen for meal prep.

Sometimes the best way to experience a destination is from a good dorm room with good people. Book one of these sweet hostels in Wellington and get ready for the time of your life!

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Best Airbnb in Wellington: Spacious House in the Heart of Wellington

This immaculate and fully renovated townhouse is conveniently located in the center of Wellington. Just a minutes walk to a pub and a restaurant, minutes walk to the center, supermarkets, waterfront, a bus stop and Mt Victoria lookout, you’ll be able to walk everywhere. The house comes with a fully equipped kitchen, two balconies, a spacious dining area and a smart TV. It’s perfect for first-time visitors to Wellington.

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Best Hotel in Wellington: Comfort Hotel Wellington

The 3-star C Hotel Wellington is all about the location. Set on prime real estate right on bohemian Cuba Street close to Civic Square, it’s surrounded by great bars, quirky restaurants, and live music venues.

You’ll love the classic 1900s architecture, indoor heated swimming pool, and the electric bike rentals!

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Wellington Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Wellington

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Mount Victoria

  • Part of the Wellington CBD, residential Mount Victoria places you slap bang in the middle of the action. A collection of excellent restaurants, bars, and museums are just a stone’s throw away, making this easily the best area to stay in Wellington.
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Island Bay

  • If you’re wondering where to stay in Wellington on a budget, Island Bay is an affordable coastal suburb for budget-conscious travelers. 
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Te Aro

  • Te Aro is Wellington’s social hub, and hands down the best neighborhood in Wellington to stay in. It’s home to some of the hippest and happening night-time venues. If you love a good night out, you’ll fit right in!
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Brooklyn

  • Brooklyn is undoubtedly one of the coolest places to stay in Wellington with its gorgeous art deco buildings, pretty parks, historic churches, and atmospheric cinemas.
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Kapiti Coast

  • The Kapiti Coast is a gloriously laid-back part of the city with a series of golden beaches – in fact, they’re some of the best beaches in the country!
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Wellington, and in fact New Zealand as a whole, is not all that big. Covering just 29,600 acres, the capital is home to less than 11% of the country’s population.

Windy Welly, as its lovingly nicknamed, is divided into diverse districts which despite their differences all tend to run into one another.

If you’re a beach bum after a suntan, you don’t have to worry too much about where to stay in Wellington. No matter where you are, you’ll never be more than 15 minutes from a beach!

One of the best areas to stay in Wellington has to be Te Aro, a cultural hub within the Wellington CBD, purely because of its entertainment opportunities. You’ll find bohemian bars and (often underground) live music venues by venturing down famous Cuba Street.

The Kapiti Coast offers some of greater Wellington’s best neighborhoods. You’ll find some of the city’s best beaches, nature reserves, and interesting wildlife less than an hour from the city center.

If you’d prefer a similar experience closer to home, then check out Petone – another one of the Wellington best neighborhoods. This beachfront suburb is just a 10-minute drive outside of the city.

Outdoorsy Wellington is a great spot to hit the beach, take a hike, and enjoy carefree living as only the Kiwis know how.

But with such diversity and choice, how do you decide where to stay in Wellington? Don’t worry; we’ll cover absolutely everything you need to know in our Wellington ‘where to stay’ guide below. Keep reading!

Looking for more details on traveling to Wellington? Check out our EPIC guide to backpacking Wellington!

 

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Check out this post to read our full review!

 

5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Wellington

Now let’s get onto the good stuff. Whether you’re visiting Wellington for the first or 500th time, we’ll take a look at the best neighborhood to stay in Wellington.

 

#1 Mount Victoria – Where to Stay in Wellington for Your First Time

Part of the Wellington CBD, residential Mount Victoria places you slap bang in the middle of the action.

A collection of excellent restaurants, bars, and museums are just a stone’s throw away, making this easily the best area to stay in Wellington.

Combine that with the enviable harbor views of Oriental Bay in front of you, Te Aro’s nightlife to your left and thrifty Newtown to your right and you’ve got the perfect holiday location.

wellington-hobbit

Mount Victoria is also a famous filming location from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, and you’ll soon see why. The surrounding forests (the ‘Hobbiton Woods’) are absolutely stunning!

Don’t miss the lookout point offering incredible 360-degree views of Wellington city. This is where all the best Instagram pictures are snapped! If you’re wondering where to stay in Wellington for one night, Mount Victoria should be top of the list.

 

Things to See and Do in Mount Victoria

– Pack a picnic and hike to the top of the Wellington Lookout

– Visit the Hobbit’s Hideaway, a filming location for the Lord of the Rings (it’s where the hobbits hid when they were being chased by Ringwraiths)

– Admire the Richard Byrd Memorial, commemorating a Kiwi aviator and Polar explorer

– Explore Te Papa (Our Place) Museum, New Zealand’s national museum, and art gallery

– Ride up the nearby Wellington Cable Car for a bird’s eye view of the city

 

Best Hostel in Mount Victoria: The Cambridge Hotel

Dating back to 1883, the Cambridge Hotel & Backpackers offers cozy private rooms and affordable four, six and eight-bed dorms within walking distance of Te Papa, Cuba Street, and the Waterfront.

Open 24 hours, guests can look forward to a social bar, self-catering kitchen, and facilities like an ATM and 24-hour laundry.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Mount Victoria: Spacious House in the Heart of Wellington

This immaculate and fully renovated townhouse is conveniently located in the center of Wellington. Just a minutes walk to a pub and a restaurant, minutes walk to the center, supermarkets, waterfront, a bus stop and Mt Victoria lookout, you’ll be able to walk everywhere. The house comes with a fully equipped kitchen, two balconies, a spacious dining area and a smart TV. It’s perfect for first-time visitors to Wellington.

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Best Hotel in Mount Victoria: Apollo Lodge Motel

The 4-star Apollo Lodge Motel offers a choice of self-contained studios, apartments, and family units in the center of the entertainment district.

Tucked away in an Edwardian-style building, Apollo is perfect for families as some units have their own kitchens. Facilities include free unlimited Wi-Fi, a tour desk, and free off-street parking.

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Best Hotel in Mount Victoria: Richmond Guesthouse

Richmond Guesthouse offers 12 comfortable rooms in a refurbished 19th Century villa, just a kilometer from the thrills and spills of Courtenay Place.

With a choice of double, twin, and triple rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, it caters to all kinds of travelers. A complimentary Continental breakfast is included in your stay.

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#2 Island Bay – Where to Stay in Wellington on a Budget

If you’re wondering where to stay in Wellington on a budget, Island Bay is an affordable coastal suburb for budget-conscious travelers.

Located near the Waterfront, this old fishing village is a very community-orientated neighborhood where most of the bars and restaurants are owned by locals – you’ll get a true taste of the traditional Wellington vibe!

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source: PK289 (Shutterstock)

Set along a rugged coastline, Island Bay offers great beaches, surfing and snorkeling opportunities, and pathways for seaside strolls. You’ll be able to see the South Island across the water.

Just 20 minutes by bus to the CBD, it offers plenty of glorious old churches, a marine reserve, and recreational walkways to explore.

 

Things to See and Do in Island Bay:

– Hit the beach while the kids enjoy the playground right across the road

– Watch a movie at the Empire Cinema

– Snorkel, dive or swim in the protected Taputeranga Marine Reserve – keep an eye out for the New Zealand Seahorse, a large-bellied seahorse unique to the area

– Indulge in a homemade savory pastry from Patricia’s Pies, supposedly some of the best in the world

– Walk along the beach towards the lighthouse and admire the views of the South Island

 

Best Hotel in Island Bay: The Airport Motel

While not a hostel per se, the Airport Motel still offers an affordable alternative to a pricier hotel in Wellington.

It offers comfortable studios with a kitchenette and private en-suite just five minutes’ drive from the airport. A family studio caters for larger groups.

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Best Hotel in Island Bay: Balfour Trading Apartment

Balfour Trading Apartment is a private one-bedroom apartment with a patio, garden, and balcony with mountain views.

The apartment sleeps up to four guests and is fully kitted out with a dishwasher, flat-screen TV, and washing machine.

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Best Hotel in Island Bay: The Wellington Container House

The 4-star Wellington Container House is a unique holiday home near Island Bay housed within one of Wellington’s landmark buildings.

It sleeps up to eight people, making it a great choice for large families and groups traveling together. Facilities include a pool, Jacuzzi, free Wi-Fi, and a complimentary airport shuttle. 

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#3 Te Aro – Where to Stay in Wellington for Nightlife

Te Aro is Wellington’s social hub, and hands down the best neighborhood in Wellington to stay in. It’s home to some of the hippest and happening night-time venues. If you love a good night out, you’ll fit right in!

The restaurants are open until late and most of the bars stay open until dawn. Just a kilometer from Downtown Wellington, Te Aro is about as central a location as you’ll get. Not to mention it’s super affordable too!

flickr-wellington-museum

source: Pawel Loj (Flickr)

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Wellington for one night, the late-night action can be found in and around Courtenay Place. There’s a great mix of venues to suit every mood from bars and pubs, to cocktail bars and nightclubs.

The adjacent Cuba Street is Wellington’s Party Central with its Bohemian vibe, underground clubs, and quirky bars.

 

Things to See and Do in Te Aro:

– Go shopping, explore the galleries and have a drink along Cuba Street

– Hit the bars and soak up the nightlife of Courtenay Place

– Explore Te Papa Museum and see its colossal squid (weighing nearly 500 kilograms!)

– Take a look inside the National Tattoo Museum

– Admire the books or attend a free talk or movie screening at the Wellington City Library

– Watch a free movie screening at Nga Taonga Sound & Vision Film Archive

– Have a vibey brunch at Prefab Eatery or Nicau Cafe

 

Best Hostel in Te Aro: YHA Wellington City

The YHA Wellington City is one of the best places in Wellington to stay.

This award-winning backpackers in the heart of Te Aro offers colorful dorms and private rooms within walking distance of the main bars and clubs of Courtenay Place and Cuba Street.

Perks include en-suite bathrooms, a games room, and an on-site espresso bar.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Te Aro: Cosy Shared Apartment near Nightlife

Perfectly located in the heart of the centre, this shared apartment is one street back from the National Museum Te Papa and a two minute walk away from Cuba Street. Go down the street and you’ll find great cafes, art galleries and the Oriental Bay beach. The apartment consists of a queen size bed, a bathroom with a bath tub and a shower, a common living areas, a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony.

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Best Hotel in Te Aro: The Setup on Dixon

The Setup on Dixon is a 3-star backpacker-friendly accommodation just a short walk from Courtenay Place.

It offers a choice of shared dorms and private twin or double rooms with either a private or shared bathroom. Most rooms have a kitchenette, free Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV.

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Best Hotel in Te Aro: Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

When it comes to location, you won’t find better than Distinction Wellington Century City. This stylish 4-star hotel is just steps from Courtenay Place and 950 meters from the beach.

Book here and you’ll enjoy free Wi-Fi, a kitchenette, and a balcony or terrace. Not to mention access to a heated pool, Jacuzzi, and a gym!

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#4 Brooklyn – The Best Area in Wellington to Stay in This Year

Brooklyn is undoubtedly one of the coolest places to stay in Wellington with its gorgeous art deco buildings, pretty parks, historic churches, and atmospheric cinemas.

It’s very New York, like its namesake, and most famous for its own take on Central Park.

But while it has an obvious American-esque culture – all the streets are named after American presidents – it’s very understated and the community (while becoming more and more popular) is not yet touristy.

shutterstock-wellington-park

source: Natalia Ramirez Roman (Shutterstock)

Located at the top of Brooklyn Hill above Happy Valley, this vibey neighborhood offers panoramic views over Wellington Harbor.

There’s plenty to discover for outdoorsy adventurers, from old army bunkers and war memorials to walking or cycling tracks and the Brooklyn Wind Turbine (it does tend to be windy).

 

Things to See and Do in Brooklyn:

– Admire the views from Brooklyn War Memorial Park

– Walk to the wind turbine located at the highest point of Brooklyn – the views stretch as far as the South Island on a clear day

– Tuck into some of Brooklyn’s best pies at Jo’s Bakery

– Watch a flick at the Penthouse Cinema

– Grab a bite to eat at the Brooklyn Deli

– Take a stroll through or have a picnic in Central Park

– Climb the Tuscan-inspired Tower Studio on Karepa Street for 360-degree views of the native bush reserve 

 

Best Hostel in Brooklyn: The Marion Hostel in Wellington

The Marion Hostel is one of the best places in Wellington to stay, less than a five-minute drive from Brooklyn. It offers bright four, six and 10-bed dorms or private twin and double rooms.

Claiming the title ‘Wellington’s best hostel’, this refurbished historical building offers a stylish communal kitchen, free Wi-Fi, and a roof terrace.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Brooklyn: Private and Spacious Stylish Studio

This private and spacious studio is perfectly locatedin the Tuscan-style tower in Brooklyn, Wellington. Walk three minutes to reach walking and mountain biking tracks, and a further two minutes to reach restayrants, cafes, bars on Cuba Street. Self-contained, the apartment comes with a secluded deck overlooking Polhill Reserve, a queen-sized bed, a double sofa-bed, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom.

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Best Hotel in Brooklyn: 180deg View Of Wellington City

180deg View Of Wellington City offers a choice of one and two-bedroom villas in the heart of Brooklyn. A choice of standard and deluxe villas range in price from moderate to luxury.

Guests can look forward to having their own home away from home as well as free Wi-Fi and daily breakfast included.

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Best Hotel in Brooklyn: 88 Wallace Court Motel

The 3-star 88 Wallace Court Motel is a three-minute drive from the center of Brooklyn. Each cozy room comes with a flat-screen TV and a fridge.

Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, a tour desk and an airport shuttle during their stay. A collection of cafes and eateries can be found within walking distance.

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#5 Kapiti Coast – Where to Stay in Wellington for Families

The Kapiti Coast is a gloriously laid-back part of the city with a series of golden beaches – in fact, they’re some of the best beaches in the country!

Easily the best neighborhood in Wellington to stay in near the beach, this coastal stretch is less than an hour’s drive from the Wellington CBD (40 minutes to be exact), but with its carefree vibe, it feels worlds away.

When it comes to fun-filled beach days, families will love Raumati Beach especially. Marine Gardens offers a beach pool, miniature railway line, and a colorful splash pad for little ones.

flickr-wellington-beach

source: geoff_eva (Flickr)

Paraparaumu Beach offers a playground, skate park and basketball court, or you can take to the seaside cycle path for a family bike ride.

But it’s not just the beaches that put this suburb top of the list of where to stay in Wellington with kids. There’s also a car museum, historic tramway, glorious nature reserves to explore, and so much more.

 

Things to See and Do in Kapiti Coast:

– Spend the day on the beach. We recommend Paraparaumu or Raumati Beach if you’re visiting as a family

– Admire over 400 vintage cars at the Southward Car Museum

– Let the kids run wild at the Maclean Park Playground

– Take the little ones to the Marine Gardens water park

– Watch a movie at the Shoreline Cinema

– Ride the tram through Queen Elizabeth Park and explore the Tramway Museum

 

Best Hotel in Kapiti Coast: Barnacles Seaside Inn

Barnacles Seaside Inn offers easy and affordable Wellington accommodation along Marine Parade just steps from Paraparaumu Beach.

The hostel offers rooms with a shared bathroom, express check-in/out, a shared kitchen, and a garden. Family-friendly facilities include a BBQ/picnic area, a TV room, and an in-house restaurant.

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Best Airbnb in Kapiti Coast: Spacious Beachfront House for Families

This stunning beachfront house is located right on Kapiti Coast, only an hour from Wellington and is ideal for families wanting to relax by the beach. Renovated in the 1980s, the two bedroom cottage comes with an outdoor bath, a fully equipped kitchen with a Nespresso Coffee machine and everything you need for your enjoyment from kayaks, beach tennis, badminton, volleyball, toy box, board games and more.

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Best Hotel in Kapiti Coast: U Studios Paraparaumu Beach

U Studios Paraparaumu Beach offers affordable 3-star accommodation along the Kapiti Coast, within walking distance of the beach and its many water-based activities.

The hotel offers a series of private apartments, including self-contained studios designed specifically for families. On-site facilities include a restaurant, parking, and free Wi-Fi.

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Best Hotel in Kapiti Coast: Tudor Manor Bed & Breakfast

Stay within walking distance of the beach, shops, and cafes at Tudor Manor Bed & Breakfast in Paraparaumu Beach.

The B&B offers a choice of private rooms and a self-contained suite suitable for families. Guests can enjoy the use of an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, tour desk, and a spacious garden.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Wellington

Whether you’ve been trying to decide where to stay in Wellington with kids, or the best place to enjoy the city’s nightlife, we hope our Wellington accommodation guide has helped make your planning a little easier.

Have we missed anything? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email hostels@thebrokebackpacker.com to find out how.

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