Wellington Travel Information
Wellington, the capital city, is situated on the south-west shores of its magnificent, almost land-locked, harbour into which, through its deep though narrow entrance, ships from all over the world make safe entry.
The Maoris claim that Wellington Harbour was discovered by the Polynesian navigators Kupe and Ngahue in times before the first canoes, and that they gave the names Matiu and Makaro to Somes Island and Ward Island.
Captain Cook sailed into the harbour in 1773, but the first European to make any stay was Captain James Herd, in 1826, in the ship Rosanna in company with Lambton.
The first settlement was laid out in January 1840 at the head of the harbour near where Pet one now stands, but it was presently moved to the shores of Lambton Harbour.
Reclamation of land along the original shoreline has created over the years a large area occupied by commercial and other buildings in which many streets commemorate the names of persons connected with New Zealand's early history.
Along the waterfront are now a floating dock, berths specially constructed for the vehicular inter-island ferry-steamers to Picton and to Lyttelton, and wharves to accommodate the ships that bring passengers and goods from overseas.
The massive museum “Te Papa Tongarewa”, situated between Cable Street and the waterfront is very much a must do. It houses many of New Zealand’s most important collections, including over 16,000 Maori artifacts.
There is an airport at Rongotai on land levelled at great cost out of the ridge between Evans Bay and Lyall Bay, only a few minutes' drive from the centre of the city.
The seat of government was transferred from Auckland to Wellington in 1865, and since that time not only have government departments increased in number and enormously in size, but many business establishments have made their head offices there, so that Wellington ranks with Auckland in importance as a principal centre of commerce and industry and as a shipping port.
The residential parts of Wellington occupy the valleys and the steep slopes of the surrounding hills, but dwelling places have also been sought and found along the shores of the deeply indented coast of the peninsula extending eastwards and across the harbour.
Wellington is still expanding fast, and while there is still scope for development on the surrounding hills many people who work in the city make their homes in localities far outside its limits, as in the Hutt Valley and on points on the main line north as far as Paekakariki.
There are many notable buildings in the city; first for mention are the old Government Buildings built in 1876 as a timber version of a traditional nineteenth-century stone structure, claimed to be one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.
It now houses Victoria University’s law school.
On a hill nearby, between Bowen Street, Lambton Quay and Molesworth Street, are the Parliament Buildings (Beehive), comprising the General Assembly Library, a stone building of Victorian-Gothic style, and the twentieth century main block.
Near Parliament Buildings is the Anglican Cathedral and not far away "old St Paul's church", an architectural gem of colonial days.
The city extends from the parliament and the railway station in the north, around the harbour to Oriental Bay in the south-east.
Some of the main shopping thoroughfares are along Lambton Quay, Cuba Street and Coutney place, where the city’s liveliest café quarter can be found.
The entire stretch of road in the evening, from Kent Terrace down to Manners Mall, is alive with people, either wining, dining, or visiting the cinema’s or theatre’s.
Though the main part of the city appears to be all bustle and business there are some beautiful and often unexpected places of retreat.
Near Parliament Buildings is the Alexander Turnbull Library, originally a private house and collection of books, since added to and made the repository of a magnificent collection of rare manuscripts, books, and pictures relating to New Zealand and the Pacific.
The Wellington Cable car on Lambton Quay, is well worth a ride, where it climbs a huge summit, offering spectacular views of the city.
Reached by cable-car from Lambton Quay to Kelburn Park is the Carter Observatory, set in public gardens of extraordinary interest and beauty. An historic refractor telescope and a modern reflector telescope is available for public viewing.
A free shuttle-bus runs to the Interislander ferry terminal and regular train services operate from the Wellington Railway Station.
A sight-seeing tour by night and many such are organized by the City Transport Department, is another "must" for the visitor, for it will take in ever changing views of unforgettable beauty.
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Wellington Travel Information