In a city with endless restaurants, cafes and bars and a country full of breathtaking, but pricey adventure sports, one could easily spend hundreds of dollars a day while visiting Wellington.
A lot of people complain about how expensive the city is, but it doesn't have to be.
Full of public art displays, markets and street performers, just a walk around Wellington will give visitors more than just a taste of the city's culture. For those who want more than just a tour, some of the city's biggest attractions are also its cheapest.
Here are five things to do in Wellington for under $5.
1. View the city from Mount Victoria (Free)
Hands down, the best view of the city. From Mount Victoria Lookout Point people have a panoramic view of the city. It comes with a bit of work, but it's worth it.
To get there, use the Southern Walkway, which starts at the corner of Victoria and Wakefield Streets at Oriental Bay. There are a few more walkways, it's possible to drive to the top and take public transit.
The view is great at all times of day. Try to visit at dusk for an especially spectacular sight.
2. Visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa (Free)
This isn't just a two hour activity. One could spend days in Te Papa and only scratch the surface.
The Te Papa covers a range of topics. Learn about Maori culture and even enter "The Marae", a traditional Maori meeting place. The museum allows its patrons to get hands on with more recent Kiwi culture in its Slice of Heaven exhibition, which covers life and the changes that came to it in New Zealand through the 20th century. Visitors even get a chance to see the only complete colossal squid on display in the world at Te Papa until August 2012.
Most of the exhibits are interactive and the museum even has a great children's section, which 20-somethings may also find themselves drawn to.
3. Grab a coffee ($4)
Known as the "capital of cool", Wellington has a very lively cafe scene and produces some of the tastiest coffees in the world. There's four popular roasteries that dominate Wellington, Havana, Coffee Supreme, Peoples and Flight, and you'll find different cafes boasting whichever one they use. Baristas are rock stars of sorts here and every cafe has its own personality.
Cuba Street is cafe central. Ernestos, Plum, Fidel's, and Memphis Belle, just off Cuba Street, are just a few popular cafes. Bring a book or a friend and make a day of it. Buy a $4 flat white, cappuccino, latte or long black and appreciate the city's attention to a long-time staple in worldwide society, caffeine.
4. Take a Cable Car to the Botanic Gardens ($3.50 one way/Free)
This two-for-one activity may be the most popular attraction in Wellington. Most post cards about Wellington will feature a red cable car entering lavish greenery far above the city. Not to mention that all signs in the city center point to it.
The great thing about the dual activity is that you get to learn about the country's industrial/urban history as well as its nature. The cable car was created in 1898 to connect a new residential area to the city. A ride up on the red car gives visitors a taste of old-time Wellington as well as breath-taking views of the city.
But things get even better at the top. The 25-hecrtare Botanic Gardens feature some of the most popular as well as protected native forestry. Walk around the gardens winding pathways, speckled with colorful flowers and shaded by waving ferns.
It's really unnecessary to purchase a return ticket. The best path will lead you back to the city.
5. Get to know Wellywood at Weta Cave (Free)
For better or worse, the number one thing people worldwide usually associate with New Zealand is Lord of the Rings. Well Weta Cave is the place that made the trilogy happen. Just a humble kiwi film studio with no massive gates or security officers hanging around, Weta Cave did all the special effects for Lord of the Rings as well as several other big production films.
This is where Peter Jackson made the epic story come to life. The director and a team of creative minds took the already glorious New Zealand scenery and made it majestic.
The part open to the public is only as small museum filled with memorabilia from Lord of the Rings and other films. Highlights include getting up close with a life-size Gollum and watching a short film that goes behind the scenes of projects the Oscar-winning studio has been involved in.
Anyone interested in doing a Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand should start it here. Weta Cave has heaps of information about notable places used in the film as well as directions. A lot of places were filmed either in or just outside Wellington.
Weta Cave is located in Miramar, only a short drive from the city center. It's easily accessible by bus and should costs about $2-4 to reach from the city center.
Travel tip shared by HeelsandWheels