Wellington is the capital of New Zealand.
When arriving in the Wellington area, you might be able to catch a local train, but even at night it's worth just trying to hitchhike into the city if you're north of the point where the motorway starts. If you are dropped off along the highway, you can try hitching from an onramp or you could take the train into the city.
North up SH1 towards Bulls/Taupo/Taranaki/Hamilton/Auckland
24/05/2020: It seems that the 3rd point from the list below is not valid anymore as Paraparaumu is not on the highway anymore. It's better to catch the train to Paekakariki (Kapiti line), walk out of the station towards the direction the train arrived from. Turn left onto the highway, there is a good spot with a bus stop bay just 20m further.
I was hitchhiking out of Wellington recently and unfortunately a couple of the old spots have become less useful, so here's some modifications - correct as of 18/04/15.
- At the corner of Taranaki St. and Arthur St., close to the top of Cuba St. - there is a little space, but not very convenient for cars to pull over here. Still might be worth a go if you don't fancy walking.
- From the main Wellington train station, walk along the main road (Waterloo Quay) towards the stadium. Follow the road as it bends around past the stadium (the street name changes to Aotea Quay). Follow this road until it crosses the motorway (SH1), cross under the bridge and you'll find a bus stop on the right. Shouldn't take more than 20 minutes to get a ride, just try not to accidentally flag down a bus.
- A common approach to getting out of Wellington on Route SH1 to the north is from Paraparaumu. "Paraparam" is far enough out that one can avoid all the short trip cars going to work from Wellington. To get here take the train from Wellington Station ($10, note that ticket inspectors are always on the train), a journey of 55 minutes. At Paraparaumu station, exit the train and turn right to walk north to the end of the platform. Continue this direction to the road and turn left. Turn right at the lights and you are now on route SH1. You can hitch here but it is very busy, so continue about 800 m further north along the road, around the curve till you come to the nice big lay-by. This is a perfect hitching spot, located opposite a service station and a place called Boat City. Taking the train may seem time-consuming,but in reality you have shaved this time off your total trip since it takes almost an hour to get here by car from Wellington, especially if the traffic is bad.
North up SH2 towards Masterton/Hastings/Napier/Gisborne
Take the train to Upper Hutt then the number 110 bus to "Maoribank, Mangaroa road near SH2". Hop off the bus and cross SH2, there is a great spot where the traffic lights force the traffic to stop and there is a pull in area - on google maps it is 1183 River Road Clouston Park, Upper Hutt. We got picked up in 5 mins.
Ferry to South Island, Picton
You pay (normally around $45-55) per person. And it's better to book in advance although be aware of deals around the start and end of the university year, when specials sometimes crop up.
If you ask around a bit on the ferry it will be easy to get a ride to Nelson or other places in South Island. Beware not to accept a ride to Bleheim which is commonly known as "Hitchhikers Hell", I once spent 48 hours waiting there enroute to Christchurch :o