Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand's capital city, lies at the southwestern tip of the North Island in a supremely beautiful situation, surrounded by water and steep hills, with its picturesque natural harbor, Port Nicholson. Another characteristic of the city is the strong and sometimes stormy westerly wind that blows in almost constantly from the Cook Strait, giving Wellington its name of the 'windy city'.
One disadvantage of the magnificent situation, however, is a shortage of level ground, so that the city has been compelled to spread into widely scattered areas of land between the hills and inlets of the sea, which are linked by a network of winding roads, sometimes running high above sea level. Some land was gained by earth movements during a severe earthquake in 1855, when the harbor area rose about 1.5 m, and more recently land reclamation schemes have created more room in the city center and for the airport; but it has still been necessary to resort to high-rise building in the central area to meet the city's needs. Wellington has the most modern skyline in New Zealand but at the cost of losing much of its Victorian architectural heritage. Many old shops and offices were demolished on the grounds that they were not earthquake-proof, to be replaced by steel-frame tower blocks that have turned many streets in the city center into channels for the wind. The residential areas have now moved far out into suburbs and satellite towns - northeast to Hutt Valley (Petone, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt), north to the Kapiti Coast (Porirua, Paekakariki, Paraparaumu). Access to the city center is provided by urban expressways and suburban rail lines, tunneling through the hills and destroying more of the city's older buildings.
Wellington is the seat of New Zealand's Parliament and government, and thanks to its situation on the north side of the Cook Strait is an important traffic hub for communications with the South Island. As a metropolis, however, Wellington has now been overtaken by Auckland - a reversal of past history, when Wellington fought for years to supersede Auckland as capital.