Wellington (Photo:Victor Maschek/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic Staff

Port of 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 the 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, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away across Cook Strait.

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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 Te Papa museum 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 some 400 restaurants and counting). Another thing Wellingtonians are obsessed with is coffee. Kiwis, as New Zealanders are known, have their own lingo for coffee drinks -- flat white (not a cappuccino, but similar), short black (espresso) and many more.

Where You're Docked

The big ships dock at Aotea Quay, between the Interislander Ferry Terminal and the train station. The walk to the city centre takes 25 to 30 minutes. Small ships dock at Queens Wharf, right in the heart of town.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The New Zealand dollar is about 1.48 to the U.S. dollar, which is good news for cruisers. The easiest way to get local currency is from an ATM, found at the railway station and at major banks. Shoppers using debit cards can ask for "cash out," the Kiwi term for money back. For current exchange rates, check www.oanda.com.


Everyone speaks English. A few handy, commonly used Maori phrases are "kia ora" for "hello" and "ka kite ano" for "see you again."


A bottle of wine, perhaps a Pinot Noir from the nearby Wairarapa region, or a pair of gloves made from a blend of possum fur and sheep's wool. Both will warm you up back home.

Wellington Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards

2018 Top-Rated Australia & New Zealand Destinations