Wellington or Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui, meaning The Head of the Fish of Māui (often shortened to Te Upoko-o-te-Ika), a traditional name for the southernmost part of the North Island, derives from the legend of the fishing up of the island by the demigod Māui. Nickname(s): Wellywood, the Windy City, Welly. Wellington is at the south-western tip of the North Island on Cook Strait, the passage that separates the North and South Islands. On a clear day the snowcapped Kaikoura Ranges are visible to the south across the strait. To the north are the golden beaches of the Kapiti Coast. On the east the Rimutaka Range divides Wellington from the broad plains of the Wairarapa, a wine region of national acclaim. With a latitude of 41° 17' S, Wellington is the southernmost national capital city in the world. It is more densely populated than most other settlements in New Zealand, due to the small amount of building space available between the harbour and the surrounding hills. The city is the third most populous urban area of New Zealand as Wellington has very few suitable areas in which to expand and this has resulted in the development of the surrounding cities in the greater urban area. With its exposure to intense winds coming through Cook Strait, the city gained the nickname Windy Wellington. Wellington was named after Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and victor of the Battle of Waterloo. The Duke's title comes from the town of Wellington in the English county of Somerset. In its most restrictive definition, the Wellington Region covers just the four territorial authorities in the region with city status: Lower Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington.Wellington's charm is that it serves up a vibrant inner city experience with a slice of New Zealand scenery as it is surrounded by hills, a rugged coastline and a stunning harbour.
Wellington's cafe culture is prominent and exciting. The city has more cafes per capita than New York City. Restaurants are either licensed to sell alcohol, BYO (bring your own), or unlicensed (no alcohol). They offer a variety of cuisines from around the world, including from the Pacific Rim or Europe, Asia and Polynesia or dishes that have a distinctly New Zealand style. There's an abundance of seafood, New Zealand lamb, pork and cervena (venison), salmon, crayfish (lobster), bluff oysters, paua (abalone), mussels, scallops and many other varieties of New Zealand shellfish. There are also numerous bars and clubs that range in style and quality. Check out Courtney Place, a stretch of great bars and restaurants very close to major theatres and shops. The Wellington Region is by a large margin the wealthiest region in the country. As of December 2007 Wellington residents had a significantly higher average weekly income than the rest of the country.
Population: 478,600 (June 2009 estimate)
In the 2006 Census, Wellington had the second-highest Asian population (8.4%) and the second-highest Pacific Islander population (8.0%), with 26.1% of Wellingtonians being born outside New Zealand, second only to Auckland (40.4%). Wellington City had the largest population of the four city council areas with 179,466 people, followed by Lower Hutt City, Porirua, and Upper Hutt City. Other main centres of population are on the Kapiti Coast and in the fertile farming areas close to the upper Ruamahanga River in the Wairarapa. Along the Kapiti Coast, numerous small towns sit close together, many of them close to popular beaches. From the north, these include Otaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu, the twin settlements of Raumati Beach and Raumati South, Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay, the last of which is a northern suburb of Porirua. Each of these settlements has a population of between 2,000 and 10,000, making this a moderately heavily populated coastline. In the Wairarapa the largest community by a considerable margin is Masterton, with a population of almost 20,000. Other towns in the area include Featherston, Martinborough, Carterton and Greytown. In 2009 Wellington was judged to have the 12th best quality of living in the world, a ranking holding steady from 2007, according to a study by consulting company Mercer. Of cities with English as the primary language, Wellington ranked fourth in 2007. Of cities in the Asia Pacific region, Wellington ranked third (2009) behind Auckland and Sydney, Australia.
Land area: 8,140 km2 (3,142.9 sq mi)
Main Centres: Wellington City, Porirua, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Kapiti Coast
The Māori who originally settled the Wellington area knew it as Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui, meaning "the head of Māui's fish". Legend recounts that Kupe discovered and explored the district in about the 10th century. The Wellington region was settled by Europeans in 1839. Wellington City became the capital of Wellington Province upon the creation of the province in 1853, until the abolition of provinces in New Zealand in 1876. The city became capital of New Zealand in 1865, the third capital of New Zealand after Auckland and Russell. European settlement began with the arrival of an advance party of the New Zealand Company on the ship Tory, on 20 September 1839, followed by 150 settlers on the Aurora on 22 January 1840. In 1855 the Wairarapa earthquake occurred on a fault line to the north and east of Wellington, which ranked as probably the most powerful earthquake in New Zealand’s history, with an estimated magnitude of at least 8.2 on the Richter scale. Parliament first sat in Wellington on 7 July 1862, but the city did not become the official capital for some time. In November 1863, the Premier, Alfred Domett, moved a resolution before Parliament (in Auckland) that " it has become necessary that the seat of government should be transferred to some suitable locality in Cook Strait." Apparently there was concern that the southern regions, where the goldfields were located, would form a separate colony. Parliament officially sat in Wellington for the first time on 26 July 1865. The population of Wellington was then 4,900.
Activities: What to do there?
Wellington is an exciting and vibrant city that is compact and interesting. It is situated between a dramatic harbour and bush-clad hills. Great views can be found at the top of Mount Victoria, or by catching the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens. A different side of Wellington can be found along the western Kapiti Coast. The route hugs the rugged coastline, providing spectacular views. Off the coast is the world-renowned bird sanctuary, Kapiti Island. The relaxed lifestyle has given this area a wonderful country life; there are olive groves, feature gardens and unique bed and breakfasts. Just north of Wellington city is the Hutt Valley, an area that offers a multitude of outdoor and adventure experiences, including bush and coastal walks, 4WD tours, golf, mountain biking and fishing. More than most cities, life in Wellington is dominated by its central business district (CBD). Approximately 62,000 people work in the CBD, only 4,000 fewer than work in Auckland's CBD, despite that city having three times Wellington's population. Wellington's cultural and nightlife venues are concentrated on Courtenay Place in the southern part of the CBD, making the inner city suburb of Te Aro the largest entertainment destination in New Zealand. Arts and theatre plus live music are alive and well here!
Wow, what a city - Wellington is a great little city that supports an arts scene, café culture and nightlife much larger than many cities of a similar size. It is really important in the life of New Zealand's film and theatre industry and second only to Auckland in terms of numbers of screen industry businesses. Te Papa Tongarewa (the Museum of New Zealand), which is a ground-breaking interactive museum, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Museum of Wellington City & Sea and the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival are all here. Porirua is home to Pataka, a museum of Pacific art and culture. Some famous sons and daughters are film-makers Jane Campion and Sir Peter Jackson; actor Russell Crowe; former All Black captain Tana Umaga; golfer Michael Campbell, winner of US Open 2005; and former British Open winner Sir Bob Charles. Wellington is also the birthplace of author Katherine Mansfield. A growing facet of the economy is the film industry plus television broadcasting with expenditure in the Wellington region more than doubled from $128 million in 2007 to $285 million in 2008. Yes, there’s plenty to see and do here!
Airport: Wellington International Airport is six kilometres south-east of the city. It is serviced by flights from across New Zealand, and several flights to Australia and the Pacific Islands. Flights to other international destinations require a transfer at another airport, as larger aircraft cannot use Wellington's short (1,936-metre/6,350-foot) runway. The airport is a base for Wellington Aero Club, a private not-for-profit aeronautical flight school. www.wellingtonairport.co.nz
Roads: Because of Wellington’s fine public transport system, more than 11% of Wellington households do not own a car, the highest for any region of the country. Wellington is served to the north by State Highway 1 in the west and State Highway 2 in the east, meeting at the Ngauranga Interchange north of the city centre, where SH 1 runs through the city to the airport. Road access into the capital is lower in grade that most other cities in New Zealand - between Wellington and the Kapiti Coast, SH 1 travels along the Centennial Highway, a narrow accident-prone section of road, and between Wellington and Wairarapa, SH 2 transverses the Rimutaka Ranges on a similar narrow road. Wellington has two short motorways, both part of SH 1: the Johnsonville-Porirua Motorway and the Wellington Urban Motorway, which in combination with a small non-motorway section in the Ngauranga Gorge, connect Porirua with Wellington City.
Buses: Bus transport in Wellington is supplied by several different operators under the banner of Metlink. Buses serve almost every part of Wellington City, with most of them running along the "Golden Mile" from Wellington Railway Station to Courtenay Place. Most of the buses run on diesel, but nine routes within Wellington use trolleybuses - the only such remaining public system in Oceania. http://www.metlink.org.nz/
Ferries: Wellington is the northern terminus of Cook Strait ferries to Picton in the South Island, provided by state-owned Interislander and private Bluebridge. Local ferries connect Wellington city centre with Eastbourne, Seatoun and Petone.
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