Wellington (Māori: Te Whanganui-a-Tara) is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 405,000 residents. It is at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. Wellington is the major population center of the southern North Island and is the administrative center of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. It is the world's windiest city, with an average wind speed of over 26 km/h, and the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state.
The Wellington urban area comprises four local authorities: Wellington City, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district and about half the population; Porirua on Porirua Harbour to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley.
Situated near the geographic center of the country, Wellington was well placed for trade. In 1839 it was chosen as the first major planned settlement for British immigrants coming to New Zealand. The settlement was named in honor of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and victor of the Battle of Waterloo.
As the nation's capital since 1865, the New Zealand Government and Parliament, Supreme Court and most of the civil service are based in the city. Despite being much smaller than Auckland, Wellington is also referred to as New Zealand's cultural capital. The city is home to the National Archives, the National Library, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, numerous theatres, and two universities. Architectural sights include the Government Building—one of the largest wooden buildings in the world—as well as the iconic Beehive. Wellington plays host to many artistic and cultural organizations, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet. It has a lively urban culture, with many cafés, restaurants, and performance venues. One of the world's most liveable cities, the 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Wellington 12th in the world.
Wellington's economy is primarily service-based, with an emphasis on finance, business services, and government. It is the center of New Zealand's film and special effects industries, and increasingly a hub for information technology and innovation. Wellington is one of New Zealand's chief seaports and serves both domestic and international shipping. The city is served by Wellington International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country. Wellington's transport network includes train and bus lines which reach as far as the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa, and ferries connect the city to the South Island.
Geography[edit | edit source]
Wellington is at the south-western tip of the North Island on Cook Strait, separating the North and South Islands. On a clear day the snowcapped Kaikoura Ranges are visible to the south across the strait. To the north stretch 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 notability. With a latitude of 41° 17' South, Wellington is the southernmost capital city in the world. It is also the most remote capital city, the farthest away from any other capital. It is more densely populated than most other cities in New Zealand due to the restricted amount of land that is available between its harbour and the surrounding hills. It has very few open areas in which to expand, and this has brought about the development of the suburban towns. Because of its location in the Roaring Forties and its exposure to the winds blowing through Cook Strait, Wellington is the world's windiest city, with an average wind speed of 17 mph (27.36 km/h), and so is known by the nickname "Windy Wellington".
Wellington's scenic natural harbour and green hillsides adorned with tiered suburbs of colonial villas are popular with tourists. The CBD is close to Lambton Harbour, an arm of Wellington Harbour, which lies along an active geological fault, clearly evident on its straight western shore. The land to the west of this rises abruptly, meaning that many suburbs sit high above the centre of the city. There is a network of bush walks and reserves maintained by the Wellington City Council and local volunteers. These include Otari-Wilton's Bush, dedicated to the protection and propagation of native plants. The Wellington region has 190 square miles (492.1 km2) of regional parks and forests. In the east is the Miramar Peninsula, connected to the rest of the city by a low-lying isthmus at Rongotai, the site of Wellington International Airport.
The narrow entrance to the harbour is to the east of the Miramar Peninsula, and contains the dangerous shallows of Barrett Reef, where many ships have been wrecked (notably the inter-island ferry TEV Wahine in 1968). The harbour has three islands: Matiu/Somes Island, Makaro/Ward Island and Mokopuna Island. Only Matiu/Somes Island is large enough for habitation. It has been used as a quarantine station for people and animals, and was an internment camp during World War I and World War II. It is a conservation island, providing refuge for endangered species, much like Kapiti Island farther up the coast. There is access during daylight hours by the Dominion Post Ferry.
Climate[edit | edit source]
Averaging 2,059 hours of sunshine per year, the climate of Wellington is temperate marine, (Köppen: Cfb), generally moderate all year round, and rarely sees temperatures above 25 °C (77 °F) or below 4 °C (39 °F). The hottest recorded temperature is 31.1 °C (88 °F), while −1.1 °C (30 °F) is the coldest. The city is notorious for its southerly blasts in winter, which may make the temperature feel much colder. It is generally very windy all year round with high rainfall; average annual rainfall is 1,244 mm (49 in), June and July being the wettest months. Frosts are quite common in the hill suburbs and the Hutt Valley between May and September. Snow is very rare at low altitudes, although snow fell on the city and many other parts of the Wellington region during separate events in July and August 2011.