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Cruises to Wellington

Wellington (Photo:Victor Maschek/Shutterstock)
Wellington (Photo:Victor Maschek/Shutterstock)

About Wellington

You can't beat Wellington on a good day, so the saying goes. But New Zealand's cosmopolitan capital city, located at the southern tip of the North Island, rolls out the 'fun carpet' even when that legendary wind is blowing. Located in the centre of New Zealand, all roads lead to Wellington -- as do all ferries cruising over from the South Island just three hours sailing away across Cook Strait.

According to Maori legend, the two main islands of New Zealand are actually the great canoe of Maui (the South Island) and the giant fish he caught (the North Island). Wellington Harbour is the mouth of that huge fish. So where did the city's name come from? From Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and British Prime Minster from 1828 to 1830.

Though a geographic hub, Wellington is surprisingly compact -- it's nestled between the harbour and steep, forest-clad hills -- and wonderfully walkable. The revamped waterfront area leads from the cruise dock at the eastern edge of town to the must-see Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in the west. A stroll along the quay is filled with surprises. There's a grassy playground for kids, large-scale sculptures and fun wooden walkways. Cross the street, and you'll have your choice of cafes and shops.

Foodies will love Wellington for its wide range of dining options. There are close to 800 restaurants and counting -- per capita that's more than New York City. Another thing Wellingtonians are obsessed about is coffee. Kiwis, as New Zealanders are known, along with their Australian neighbours, have their own lingo for styles of coffee -- flat white (coffee with milk), short black (espresso) -- though cappuccinos remain constant and servings won't be supersized.

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120 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
San Francisco
Visiting:
Honolulu, Maui ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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DAY 1: Auckland

12 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Tauranga, Napier ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Sydney

11 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Eden, Milford Sound ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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DAY 1: Auckland

10 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Tauranga, Napier ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Eden, Melbourne ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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43 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Tauranga, Napier ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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32 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Melbourne, Burnie ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Milford Fjord, Doubtful Sound ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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14 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Paihia, Tauranga ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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111 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Eden, Hobart ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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26 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Jakarta, Bali ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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17 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Melbourne, Hobart ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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56 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kona ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Adelaide
Visiting:
Melbourne, Fjordland ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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18 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Honolulu
Visiting:
Tahiti, Moorea ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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12 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Tauranga, Napier ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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12 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Hobart, Milford Sound ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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21 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Tauranga, Napier ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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12 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Eden, Burnie ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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13 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Hobart, Milford Sound ...
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Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises
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11 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Sydney
Visiting:
Milford Fjord, Doubtful Sound ...
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Cruise Line:
Royal Caribbean International
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126 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Venice
Visiting:
Dubrovnik, Catania ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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70 Night
Cruise to Wellington

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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Why go to Wellington?

Pros:

Lots to do, vibrant port area, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Cons:

The weather is haphazard and it's a different town when it's windy and raining

Bottom Line:

The nation's capital has lots to explore and you need Plan A and Plan B depending on the forecast

Wellington Cruise Port Facilities?

The big ships dock at Aotea Quay, an industrial area, where disembarking passengers are met by coaches to transport them into the city -- a short, five-minute journey. Small ships dock at Queens Wharf, just a few steps from Wellington Museum (formerly the Museum of City and Sea) and a couple of blocks from all the downtown shops and restaurants.

Good to Know?

New Zealand's capital Wellington is the home to many of the country's cultural institutions, which are well worth seeking out. From the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to the National Library of New Zealand and, of course, New Zealand Parliament's Executive Wing, universally known as The Beehive (that it resembles) you can select an interest and pursue it here.

Getting Around?

Wellington is relatively small. You can walk to most of the major sights in town.

By Taxi: Wellington Combined Taxis accept debit and credit cards. You can also call them on 04 384 4444 (within NZ). Uber and Ola operate in Wellington, too.

By Bus: Metlink is Greater Wellington's Public Transport for buses, trains and ferries. Go to the railway station for buses traveling beyond the city centre and harbour area. If you are going to be travelling quite a lot on public transport, it may be worthwhile buying a Snapper card for $10 as the fares can be almost half that for cash.

By Rental Car: For out-of-town exploration, rental cars are available from the usual outlets -- Avis, Budget, Hertz and more. For more information, visit the Wellington i-SITE Visitor Information Centre at 111 Wakefield St.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The New Zealand dollar is about 1.50 to the US dollar, which is good news for cruisers. The easiest way to get local currency is from an ATM, found throughout the city and attached to just about every bank. Shoppers using debit cards can ask for 'cash out' the Antipodean term for money back.

Language?

English is the national language though there is a vowel-shift going on, so that 'ham' becomes 'hem' and 'best' sounds more like 'bist'. Australians have been known to unkindly say that the Land of the Long White Cloud would be better named the Land of the Long Flat Vowel.

New Zealanders are extremely proud of the nation's Maori heritage so you will hear Maori words being used in everyday speech. A few handy, commonly used Maori phrases are kia ora for 'hello' and ka kite ano for 'see you again'.


Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

  • 2018 Top-Rated Australia & New Zealand Destinations
  • 2017 Top-Rated Australia & New Zealand Destinations

Wellington Cruise Reviews

Ovation of the Seas
ozpen
Sail Date: Feb 2020
Unfortunately I found Wellington a very boring city and surprised that it was their Capital. I thought Canberra was dull but Wellington was worse. Apart from an excellent coffee at Mojo's and lunch at David Jones... Read More
Explorer Dream
blokartphil
Sail Date: Feb 2020
A lovely city. Everything is close. Great views from Mt Victoria and Cable Car. Maritime and TePapa museums are well worth seeing. It was a little windy on the day we were there, but you can't beat Wellington on a... Read More
Le Laperouse
SeasideLady
Sail Date: Jan 2020
We independently booked a friendly, private driver to take us to visit fur seals, and give us a tour of Wellington that focused on the things we were eager to see/do.... Read More
Sea Princess
Gail T Brisbane
Sail Date: Nov 2019
A very wet day, and the fact that we were in Wellington on a Sunday, meant that we stayed onboard. We have visited Wellington many times before and would recommend the Maritime museum.... Read More
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