Wellington, the second largest city in New Zealand, is situated in a natural harbour, facing the Cook Strait, at the extreme south-west tip of the North Island. The city is the site of the administrative, financial, and cultural centre of New Zealand. The city owes its development primarily to its port, the island’s second largest after Auckland. The port creates notable commercial traffic and has rail links to the principal cities in the North Island. Founded in 1840, the city became the capital in 1865. From 1870 and throughout the 20th century, Wellington underwent rapid urban growth, in particular in a north-easterly direction along the Hutt River valley. Surrounded by green hills, Wellington has a modern and cosmopolitan feel, characterised by wide streets and neat, well kept gardens. A city of multiple personalities and ethnic groups, Wellington can be sophisticated, like other large cities, and at the same time simple, like a small village.
The best way to explore this lively city is on foot. It is possible to walk the length of Downtown Wellington in under 30 minutes and thereby experience the different districts that make up the city:the calmness of Lambton District, the intellectualism of Willis District and the desire to entertain of the Courtenay District. Wellington’s cosmopolitan feel is also evident in the city’s culinary art. The air is often full of mouth-watering aromas, which entice the passing visitor to enter one of the numerous ethnic restaurants that decorate the city. Lambton Quay is Wellington’s main street and runs parallel to the seafront. Oriental Parade is the site for many residents wishing to take a leisurely stroll, but the true heart of the city is the so called “Miracle Mile”, that stretches from the railway station to Cambridge and Kent Terraces. The historic part of the city is Thorndon, situated a little further to the north.
To gain a different perspective of the city, visitors are advised to take a trip around the port by boat, or catch a ferry to Eastbourne. A ride on the cable-car is also highly recommended. The cable-car leaves the dock at Lambton Quay and arrives at Kelburn. The service operates from 7am to 10pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday. The cable-car, which leaves every ten minutes, takes visitors to the top of the hill, where it is possible to admire a spectacular view over the city and the port. Those not wishing to ride down, can return on foot through the Botanic Gardens, famous for the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, which houses over 100 different types of roses. Another fine view of the city can be had from the view point on the top of Mt. Victoria. The hike to the top can be strenuous but is well worth the effort. For the less energetic, it is possible to catch a bus, which departs from the railway station.
In spite of the modern constructions, which have greatly changed the city’s aspect, Wellington has managed to maintain various historic sites and buildings including: Antrim House, Old St. Paul’s Cathedral, Katharine Mansfield’s birthplace, the Parliament building and many city houses, precariously perched on the surrounding hills.
Wellington has a first-rate public transport system. The buses and the trolley buses are the best way to travel around the city. Stagecoach Wellington operates the most extensive transport system in the city centre. A day ticket costs NZ$5, and allows unlimited travel for an entire day. The railway station is situated right in the centre of the city, thus providing an efficient means of travel, in particular to destinations such as Porirua, Kapiti Coast, and the suburbs of Hutt Valley. Tranz Metro operates four lines, with departures every 30 minutes during the day ( every 10/20 minutes during rush hour) and every hour on Saturday. Boat transport is operated by Westpac Trust, which handles ferries from Queen’s Wharf to Days Bay and certain islands.
Hotels and lodgingEdit
Parliament, fronting Bowen Street and Molesworth Street, is a three-building complex and includes the “Beehive”, the architectural symbol of Wellington and site of the ministers' offices. The other buildings in the complex are the Old Parliamentary Building and the Parliamentary Library. Tours of the buildings are organised daily from 10am to 4pm.
Visitors are recommended to visit both the Gothic-architecture Old St. Paul's Cathedral and the birth-place of Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand’s most important female writer, both within walking distance of the rail and bus terminal. The latter building, at 25 Tinakori Road, houses a display that details the life and work of this world famous author. The house is open every day from 10am to 4pm (Monday until 2:30pm)
The Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand) deserves an early mention. This modern, immense complex, with its daring architecture, is situated in Cable Street on the waterfront and houses an important collection of Maori artefacts along with vast resources depicting New Zealand's ecological and geological diversity.
Wellington is the art and cultural capital of New Zealand and has more cafes and bars per head of population than New York. Situated around one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world, it has been rated by many overseas magazines and tourist writers as the best city in the southern hemisphere. Wellington is also home to:
- Peter Jackson (Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings and King Kong Director) and the linked Weta Workshop,
- The famous Kelburn Cable Car,
- NZ cricket museum,
- Rugby Sevens tournament in February each year,
- Hurricanes Super 14 rugby team,
- Many famous All Blacks,
- The World of Wearable Arts (WOW),
- NZ International Arts Festival,
- Volvo Ocean Race stopover,
- Men's World Cycling,
- Westpac Stadium, rated the best music scene in the country,
- Botanic Gardens, with Lady Norwood Rose Garden and NZ's National (Carter) Observatory,
- Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (a predator-free "mainland island"),
- Otari-Wilton's Bush (NZ's only native botanic garden),
- Museum of Wellington City and Sea,
- Many wildlife reserves in nearby cities or districts (Kapiti island, Staglands, Pauatahanui, Nga Manu).
Maps and transportationEdit
Getting to WellingtonEdit
The extensive stretch of white sand along Kapiti Coast, is an easy–to-reach destination for a pleasant stroll, away from the city. Kaptit Coast is very well organised and offers the possibility of practising all types of water-sports. The main centre Paraparaumu, with Paraparaumu and Raumati beach, is the most popular tourist destination in this zone. Kapiti Island stands a little way off shore and can only be visited with permission. Access to this important flower and wildlife reserve is limited to 50 people per day.
Simple walks, or expert hikes can be organised in the Tararua Forest Park, which lies further inland. The park, which contains virgin forests and mountain streams, is well equipped with pic-nic areas, bathing zones and camping.
Practical information and resourcesEdit
Currency : NZ$
Electric supply: 230 V., 50 Hz., the Australian round, three pinned plug is used.
Climate : A climatic condition, particular to Wellington, is strong winds, which often blow especially during the days at the beginning of winter. The city, however, generally enjoys a temperate coastal climate with mild and often sunny winters. The hours of sunlight are more numerous here than in Auckland. The average summer temperature is 20.3°C, in winter 11.2°C.
Language : English, Maori
Opening hours : offices are open from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. Government offices are open from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 am. to 4:30 pm. Shops are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm., and Saturday morning from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Once a week there is late night shopping (Thursday or Friday) until 9 pm.
Telephones : The national code for Wellington is 04.
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