The complete guide to moving to Wellington

Updated: Jun 25, 2018

Wellington; it’s a location that isn’t only the birthplace of stars such as Russell Crowe or Taika Waititi—the humorous Director behind Thor Ragnarok, but a location which is famed for its quirky cafes, strong coffee game and even stronger winds. It’s the capital of New Zealand and a place where over 10% of New Zealand’s population reside, making Wellington an attractive destination to move to from Australia.

Setting up home

Around 496,000 people live in New Zealand’s capital and make up the diverse culture that is known as Wellington’s population. People of European, Maori, Asian and Pacific Islander descent populate the area and its rich cultural scene make it a unique and exciting place to live for both individuals, as well as families. 

To rent or to buy

To rent or to buy is a personal choice, but in Wellington the percentage of homeowners is relatively high compared with other global cities. The average house price however, starts at $500,000 and the property market is stable—so if you’re looking to purchase a property, it doesn’t come cheap.

Tip: If you’re a newcomer to the area we suggest that you take a short-term rental whilst you get to know the city. This will not only enable you to find your feet with both the city and employment, but to also get an idea and a feel for which neighbourhood you are drawn to before committing to a purchase

Whilst what people look for can vary from person to person, the neighbourhoods in Wellington typically look like this:

Family Friendly

With excellent public transport links, an abundance of outdoor amenities and a plethora of good schools, Johnsonville is a popular choice for families. House prices here range, but can typically be found for between $400,000-$500,000 depending on the number of bedrooms.


If you’re looking for a short ride (just eight minutes!) from the city centre and stunning views of Wellington’s harbour, then Brooklyn is where you want to be. Property prices typically start at $525,000 and increase upwards, depending on whether you’re looking for a luxury apartment or a townhouse.


Round the clock entertainment and a burgeoning art scene make Aro Valley the perfect choice if you’re looking for something lively. Prices here vary and can be more affordable, with the possibility to snap up gems for as little as $200,000, but you have to be quick as there’s very little on the market!

Up and Coming

If you’re looking for the perfect balance between work and life, Island bay is where you want to head. A sandy beach, entertainment aplenty and just a ten-minute drive to the city centre. Unfortunately, like it’s popularity, prices in the area are on the up, with the average house price starting at around $550,000.


The cost of your utilities will vary depending on whether you rent or buy your property. Rentals often have water, for example, covered in the council rates which are paid by the landlord. However, this depends on the property you rent - as many come with a water meter installed, which means the cost is payable by you.

Companies such as Easy Energy, exist to make managing your utilities a simple one-stop solution however, if you prefer to look around at different providers to ensure you’re getting the best deal, comparison websites come in incredibly handy. Powerswitch, Glimp and SwitchMe are the most popular options for comparing utilities, but sometimes it’s worth contacting the company once you’ve found a quote you like, as you can often get a bigger discount if you sign up to have your gas and electric provided through the same company.

Getting around

Getting around Wellington is fairly simple, as the majority of the capital is easily walkable. There are areas where the terrain is more elevated than others, but transportation isn’t always a necessity and, depending on where you’re placed within the city, walking or cycling generally suffice. When you need it however, there are plenty of options.


The good news is that if you already have a driving licence or an international permit from your home country, your driving licence will be honoured in New Zealand. It is valid for one year and once it expires you’ll need to ensure that you have a New Zealand drivers licence, which can be obtained through the New Zealand Transport Agency. If you don’t have a driving licence already, you’ll need to obtain one.

In New Zealand, the roads follow international road rules, and just like Australia and most Commonwealth nations, everybody drives on the left. As is the case with most capital cities, traffic happens, and traffic in Wellington is no different! You can stay up to date with traffic information in the area by following the New Zealand Transport Agency’s twitter account, and if you want to sit comfortably in idle traffic in your beloved vehicle - be sure to check out our guide to shipping your vehicle to New Zealand.


With more than 100 routes, it’s fair to say that the bus network in Wellington is extensive. Covering the majority of the region, the bus service operates with different buses for different purposes.

City Centre Buses
If you see a bright yellow bus with GoWellington branded on it - this is the bus you need for getting around the city centre and inner suburbs. They’re often referred to as ‘Trolleybuses’ and operate with overhead wires. Sometimes the wires get stuck and disconnect, so if you see a driver get out to reattach the wire or hit it—don’t be alarmed!

Hutt Valley Bus
If you’re planning on travelling between Wellington City and Upper Hutt, this is the bus service you will need.

Manu Coach Services
This is the company which controls many of the bus services which operate along the Kapiti coast from Porirua.

Airport Bus Service

Connecting the city centre to Wellington Airport is the Airport Flyer. A bus service which can be found at the city centre and level 0 of the southern end of the airport terminal at the southern end.


The train services in Wellington are well connected and offer a quick way to get between Wellington city and the surrounding districts. The majority of trains branch out from Wellington Station and are made up of the following lines:

Hutt Valley Line (HVL)
Operating from Upper Hutt Station to Wellington Station.

Johnsonville Line (JVL)
Operating from Johnsonville Station to Wellington Station.

Kapiti Line (KPL)
Operating from Waikanae Station to Wellington Station.

Melling Line (MEL)
Operating from: Melling Station to Wellington Station.

Wairarapa Line (WRL)
Operating from Masterton Station to Wellington Station.


Ferry routes used to be one of the most popular choices of transport options, but dwindling demand meant that many of the routes, such as those which served the Miramar, Karaka Bay and Eastbourne proper regions, have been discontinued. Nowadays, the routes which remain are the daily route between Days Bayon, Central Wellington and Seatoun, and the Harbour Explorer Excursion which runs on weekends and serves the Perone and Seatoun areas.

Cable Car

The Wellington Cable Car isn’t technically a true cable car and is more of a funicular with two, permanently attached, cars running between Kelburn and the central city. But regardless of the type of cable car it is, it’s a popular transport choice for those commuting to work at Victoria University or the Wellington Botanical Garden.

School Options

Residents of Wellington, occasionally known as Wellingtonians, tend to be better educated than the average New Zealander—with the statistics of New Zealand showing that 28% of people, aged 15 years and above, have a bachelor's degree, or higher, as their top qualification.

The diverse population in Wellington mean that the talent pool is generally well educated, skilled and worldly. But where do people go in the area to get their qualifications?

In New Zealand, children start school at the age of five, and they will stay in education until the age of 18. Wellington offers a broad selection of schools of all levels, including state-integrated, private and state schools. The schools are highly rated, with New Zealand regularly scoring above the world average for maths, science and reading. There are around 80 schools in Wellington’s main city, and if you go further into the surrounding regions this number increases. Some of the highest rated teachers teach in schools such as Naenae Intermediate in Lower Hutt, Awatapu College in Palmerston North and the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Karori, but you’ll notice that Wellington places great pride on education and as a result the schools in Wellington are some of the best in the country—making it a popular choice for relocations.



If you’re relocating to New Zealand from Australia, the good news is that you don’t need to worry about a visa. However, once you’re in the country you still need to ensure that you are following the country’s legal system. One of the most important aspects of this, outside of obvious legal requirements, is tax. Everybody in New Zealand must pay tax!


There is a flat tax on consumption called Goods and Services Tax (GST) which is added to most services and purchases and is currently set at 15%. In addition to this, once you start earning, you’ll need to ensure that you are paying income tax. New Zealand’s income tax system operates on a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system and is deducted from your wages before they are issued to you. The rate for tax varies based on your earnings, and is currently set up based on the following brackets:

$0-$14,000 = 10.5%

$14,001 – $48,000 = 17.5%

$48,001 – $70,000 = 30%

$70,000+ = 33%

New Zealand does have a tax credit system so if, for example, you have children living with you, you may be eligible to receive Working for Families tax credits.

Everyday Life

This year Deutsche Bank surveyed 50 global cities in a quest to find the one with the best quality of life. Traffic, commute times, pollution, income and purchasing power were all reviewed and Wellington nabbed the accolade, marking it as ‘2018’s city with the best quality of life’.

When you look at Wellington, it’s not hard to see why. The Wellington area covers a whopping 813,005 hectares filled with diverse landscapes which include; forests, hiking trails, camping spots and regional parks. It also has 497 kilometres of coastline, which the majority of residents live within 3 kilometres of. With so much to offer in terms of natural landscape, residents of Wellington would be hard-pressed not to enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, with only 2,000 sunshine hours a year - the weather isn’t always so welcoming when doing so. Wellington is infamous for its winds - which only tend to die down for a handful of days a year for residents to bake in the sun and truly embrace being along the waterfront.

Recreational activities

In the Wellington city alone, there are 102 playgrounds and parks, which means there are plenty of things to do outside - especially when it comes to the waterfront! Wellington’s location may be windy, but if you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot orcas, dolphins and stingrays passing through the harbour. Plus, if you like wildlife, you’ll love Zealandia; a place where you can see endangered animals and birds roam free. You can even take a night tour to see if you can spot New Zealand’s infamous (and nocturnal) bird - the Kiwi.

If you’re looking to escape the wind and spend time indoors, Wellington’s art and culture scene provides plenty to do. Te Papa is one of the most popular places and has been deemed one of the most visited museums in Australasia. With an array of both permanent and temporary exhibitions which are both innovative, and often interactive, Te Papa has quickly become New Zealand’s most famous national museum. Or if museums aren’t your thing, then Wellington’s cafe scene, coffee culture and retail therapy outlets, will definitely have you covered!


Due to the fact that the Wellington region has a population which sits largely in the ‘working age’ bracket, employment opportunities in Wellington are incredibly fast-moving. But there’s still plenty out there for those seeking a new role. The majority of job roles within Wellington are based in the ‘professional’ occupation, with a large percentage based in Government, but whilst that’s the most common occupation, Wellington needs skilled employees in all areas with, ICT, construction, finance, business, engineering and health all currently high priority areas. The largest websites for perusing vacancies are Seek and TradeMe, but the Government also offers a large list of recruiters and job-seeking websites which can be found here.