Where to stay in Wellington for first time: 4 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Wellington as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Wellington for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Wellington for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Wellington and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Wellington, also known as the Windy City due to its gusty weather, is the capital city of New Zealand, nestled at the southern tip of the North Island. It’s famous for its vibrant arts scene, bustling waterfront, and delicious coffee culture. 

Wellington is home to the New Zealand Parliament, the iconic Beehive building, Te Papa Tongarewa (the national museum), and Weta Workshop, famous for its work on films like The Lord of the Rings and Avatar.

The city also boasts a thriving culinary scene, with numerous cafes, restaurants, and craft breweries. Its compact size makes it easy to explore on foot, and the surrounding hills offer stunning views of the city and harbor.

The city has an international airport, connecting to major cities both domestically and internationally. You can fly directly into Wellington from Auckland, Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and other cities.

Is Wellington safe to visit?

Yes, Wellington is overall a safe place to visit. Like any urban area, I recommend you take normal safety precautions such as taking care of your belongings, being aware of your surroundings, avoiding leaving your valuables visible in a parked car, and avoiding walking alone in poorly lit areas, especially at night.

It is also important to monitor media about weather forecasts and preparing for natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, severe storms, and floods.

Where to stay in Wellington for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Wellington for first-timers and tourists include Wellington CBD, Te Aro, Pipitea/ Thorndon, and Oriental Bay. Remember, no matter where you stay, it’s always a good idea to use common sense to have an enjoyable trip.

In general, Wellington CBD is the overall best base for first-time visitors. This area is the heart of the city, so you’ll be walking distance to major points of interest like the waterfront, the Cable Car, Te Papa Tongarewa, and Lambton Harbour. It also has lots of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops.

Te Aro, part of Wellington CBD, is a vibrant neighborhood known for its bustling nightlife, eclectic shops, and diverse dining scene. It’s also home to popular attractions like Cuba Street, Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand), and the Courtenay Place entertainment hub of Wellington.

Thorndon is a historic suburb located right next to the CBD. This area is home to the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, the Beehive, and the Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. It offers a charming blend of heritage architecture, leafy streets, and convenient access to the central business district.

During my trip to Wellington, I stayed in the city center at the mid-range Ramada by Wyndham Wellington Taranaki Street. It was a great value for money in a prime location of Wellington, close to everything, including Cuba Street with lots of food options. My room was clean with a comfortable bed and high quality linen.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Wellington for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Wellington first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Wellington first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Wellington, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Wellington have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

4 Best/Safe areas to stay in Wellington for first-timers and tourists:

1. Wellington CBD

Wellington CBD is an ideal base in Wellington for first-timers and tourists who want to be at the center of the action. The CBD is the commercial and cultural hub of Wellington, so you’ll have easy access to shops, restaurants, cafes, theaters, museums, and galleries

You’ll be within walking distance from the city’s major attractions like the Wellington Cable Car, Lambton Quay, Te Papa Tongarewa, Civic Square, Courtenay Place, and Cuba Street.

You can take a leisure stroll along scenic promenades on Wellington Waterfront, enjoy waterfront dining, or take a ferry to nearby attractions like Matiu/Somes Island or Days Bay.

The CBD offers a diverse range of shopping options to suit every taste and budget. Similarly, you’ll find a wide variety of dining options, including international cuisine, trendy cafes, and gourmet restaurants.

Wellington CBD comes alive at night with its vibrant nightlife scene with many cozy bars, lively clubs, and live music venues.

The city center is also an ideal starting point for exploring the region’s picturesque coastline and wineries. It is only 1 hour drive from vineyards of Wairarapa Valley and 30 mins to Hutt Valley, a great place for rock-climbing and abseiling.

Best places to stay in Wellington CBD for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): InterContinental Wellington, an IHG Hotel, 5-star waterfront  hotel centrally located in Wellington CBD, close to the harbor,  the ferry terminals, and major attractions like the Te Papa museum and the Parliament. It has a health club, 3 restaurants, 2 bars, an Indoor swimming pool, and fabulous breakfast. You can take a ferry crossing to the South Island.

Luxury ($$$): Boulcott Suites, 5-star e luxury apartment hotel in central Wellington, 10-15 mins walk from Te Papa Museum and Lambton Harbour. It includes studios, one, two, three, four-bedroom townhouses with a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. Great base for families, groups of friends and couples. There are rooms that can accommodate up to 8 people. 

Mid-range ($$): Doubletree By Hilton Wellington, 4-star hotel in Wellington Central, at the Corner of Lambton Quay and Grey Street. Easy walk to the waterfront area, the vibrant Cuba Street, Wellington Cable Car, and Te Papa Museum. The hotel has comfortable rooms with  black-out curtains and soundproof windows.

Mid-range ($$): CityLife Wellington, 4-star hotel in the trendy Lambton Quay shopping area in the heart of Wellington. It is a short stroll from popular points of interest like the waterfront, Cable Car terminal, TSB Arena, and Queens Wharf Ferry Terminal. They have comfortable sized family rooms.

Mid-range ($$): James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, popular 4-star hotel in the heart of Wellington, easy walk to the Lambton Harbour. It is connected with Lampton Square via a lift, giving easy access to convenience access to cable car, shops and harbor. It features a 24-hour front desk and a business center.


2. Te Aro

Te Aro is a fantastic area to stay in Wellington, especially for tourists who want a central location and lively atmosphere. This area is known for its vibrant arts scene, trendy cafes, boutique shops, and bustling nightlife.

The heart of Te Aro, Cuba Street, is a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare lined with colorful buildings, street art, quirky shops, and bustling cafes. It’s a great place to explore during the day and transforms into a lively hub of nightlife in the evenings.

You’ll also find plenty of bars, pubs, and live music venues, particularly along Cuba Street and Courtenay Place.

Te Aro is close to many of Wellington’s cultural attractions, including Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand), which showcases the country’s history, art, and natural treasures. You’ll also find galleries, theaters, and performance spaces scattered throughout the neighborhood.

Best places to stay in Wellington in Te Aro:

Luxury ($$$): Museum Apartment Hotel, Independent Collection by EVT, 5-star hotel centrally located on Wakefield Street close to the waterfront and many restaurants at Courtenay Place. It has a heated pool, Private parking, family rooms, and a fitness center.

Luxury ($$$): Mövenpick Hotel Wellington, 5-star hotel located in a great area, easy access to the university and the downtown area. Just be mindful that the hotel is up a steep hill, but it has stunning views of the city. There is a lift that takes you down the hill a little which is very convenient. 

Mid-range ($$): Ramada by Wyndham Wellington Taranaki Street, great 4-star good value for money hotel in central Wellington, on Taranaki Street, a short stroll from National War Memorial and Basin Reserve Cricket Ground. They have well-appointed rooms with  great kitchen and washing facilities.

Mid-range ($$): TRYP by Wyndham Wellington, Tory Street, 4-star hotel located in central area of Wellington, close to Te Papa Museum, National War Memorial and TSB Bank Arena. Easy access to museums and several good restaurants. They have clean comfortable rooms and nice bathrooms.

Budget ($): The Marion Hostel, great backpacker hostel in central Wellington CBD, on Marion Street, close to everything. Short walk from Cuba Street, home of many restaurants, cafes and bars. It has a nice rooftop terrace, dormitory/private rooms, and a shared fully equipped kitchens area.


3. Pipitea/ Thorndon

Pipitea/Thorndon, just north of the CBd, is a great base for a more laid-back and heritage-rich experience in Wellington. This area is home to the Beehive, the Parliament House, Old St Paul’s Cathedral, and Katherine Mansfield’s Birthplace.

Best places to stay in Wellington in Pipitea/ Thorndon:

Luxury ($$$): Bolton Hotel, 5-star boutique  hotel, conveniently located in a safe quiet area in the CBD of Wellington, short distance from the Lambton Quay, Cook Strait ferries, and Wellington Railway Station. It has a fitness center, Indoor swimming pool, and spacious guest rooms with laundry facilities and a fully equipped kitchen.

Mid-range ($$): Quest on Thorndon, 4-star art deco-style apartments in the Thorndon government district, a short stroll from the Sky Stadium and Central Station. It features accommodations with a fully equipped kitchen. 

Mid-range ($$): Thorndon Heritage Listed Villa, great value for money, beautiful heritage bed and breakfast near the Botanical Gardens and Beehive Parliament Building. It has luggage storage space, and comfortable rooms.


4. Oriental Bay

If you’re looking for a scenic and relaxing stay, Oriental Bay is the place to be. This waterfront neighborhood offers stunning views of the harbor and is perfect for leisurely strolls along the promenade or lounging on the beach.

Best places to stay in Wellington in Oriental Bay:

Luxury ($$$): Ohtel Wellington, 5-star hotel located on Oriental Parade, close to the city’s entertainment district, seaside promenade, and major attractions. Rooms have a balcony with a view of the bay.

Mid-range ($$): Incredible Views! Luxurious Studio & Outdoor Living, beautiful appointed accommodation in Oriental Bay, close to hiking trails and cafés, great base for a peaceful and restful vacation. It has free parking which is a bonus for those who drive.

Mid-range ($$): Oriental Bay At Its Best, 3-star beachfront apartment on Oriental Parade, a short distance from Freyberg Beach and Hataitai Beach. It has spectacular views from the rooms.


In conclusion, Wellington CBD, Te Aro, Pipitea/ Thorndon, and Oriental Bay are the best places to stay in Wellington for first-timers and tourists. These areas are generally safe and provide a variety of accommodations and easy access to major attractions and activities.

You can continue reading about other destinations in New Zealand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safe neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Wellington. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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