Its around 640km (398 miles) from Auckland to Wellington. The options from getting from one to the other include: flying, train, bus, and driving. Its around one hour flight time from Wellington to Auckland, its about a 13 hour drive in your own vehicle. Alternatively you could take a week or more checking out the sights along the way. In this article I'll discuss your travel options, their pros and cons, and approximate costs.
Travel From Auckland to Wellington: Wellington to Auckland Travel Tips
Trying to figure out how to get from New Zealand's Auckland to Wellington - or the reverse? Here are some travel options, written by a local for visitors.
How To Travel From Auckland To Wellington.
Auckland is New Zealand's largest city, Wellington is its third largest, and the capital. So, in New Zealand terms, there are plenty of options on how to get from one to the other. Many overseas visitors will arrive into Auckland or Christchurch and then fly out of the other city. On the way, they will almost certainly arrive in Wellington, the northern terminal for the Cook Strait ferry, and tourist destination in itself.
Auckland to Wellington - or Wellington to Auckland
Bus Travel Auckland Wellington
Inter City - Standard bus line - runs multiple services a day - direct (via Bulls and Hamilton) takes around 11.5 hours, other options include routing via Napier or Rotorua, which adds time to the trip - but is handy if you want to stop over. Prices from $1, but you more like to pay between $30 and $70 for the trip. You can generally book a few days in advance online, except in peak season. If your Auckland/Wellington trip is part of a larger New Zealand trip - then inter city offers the largest network and very cost-effective bus passes.
Other bus alternatives include the two backpacker orientated networks: Kiwi Experience and Magic Bus. These are quite a lot more expensive than Inter City but claim the advantage of more "fun" and "sight seeing" - they will also arrange accommodation at their preferred hostels. For a straight trip between Auckland and Wellington these are not cost effective. (Note you won't meet any New Zealanders on these services - if you want to meet the locals try the train or Inner City)
Auckland to Wellington By Train
New Zealand has only a limited train network, which the owner appears to take the view that passengers are a nuisence. What is left of New Zealand's passenger train network does include the "Overlander" service which runs daily (3 times a week May to August inclusive) between Auckland and Wellington. The trip is certainly scenic, and the 12 hours will let you see the highlights of the trip: the central volcanic plateau ("Mount Doom" to Hobbit fans) and the Raurimu spiral in day light hours.
Its an expensive trip full price $129 (but you can get as low as $79 by buying in advance). There are discounts for YHA and other backpacking organisations and seniors (over 60). If you love trains, then the train is a nice trip, which often does not follow any road.
For more information on the Overlander train between Auckland and Wellington- click here
Driving Between Auckland And Wellington
If you are driving solo, then I wouldn't expect the trip to take less than 12 hours, more if the traffic is heavy (January, school holiday), or the weather is awful. The stretch between Turangi and Taupo (the "Desert Road") is frequently closed in the winter with snow and ice, requiring a longer detour via National Park.
If you are unfamiliar with the New Zealand road conditions then I'd suggest at the very least you overnight somewhere (Taupo about 5 hours north of Wellington is a popular stop).
Traffic between Hamilton and Auckland can be heavy particularly during morning and evening commuter peaks. Traffic north of Wellington or south of Auckland can be very slow on long weekends, particularly in the summer. Although the Wellington - Auckland road is labelled "state highway 1" this does not mean that its a multi-laned highway.
For long stretchs its single lane, with passing bays and regular intervals. In addition its frequently hilly, don't assume you can cover the mileage that you maybe able to overseas.
Although you don't actually need a road map to find your way - the signage is quite good. I do recommend having one with you - so you don't drive right past some of the country's top tourist spots!