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Wellington District and Wellington City

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand,is a very interesting place to live and a fascinating holiday destination. It was founded beside a beautiful harbour and development has spread right round the harbour, over the surrounding hills, up the Hutt Valley and along the west coast. As Wellington city has grown other areas have developed into independent cities and districts - Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti. In Wellington city, as the housing has spread over the hills, considerable areas of native bush are untouched, so much of the natural beauty has remained.

Wellington - Beehive
Wellington - Beehive - Credit- Peter Hunt

As you would expect of a capital city Wellington has excellent shopping, professional theatre and cafes and restaurants, and as most of the inner city is concentrated into a flat area between the hills and the harbour it is possible to visit most of the significant sites on foot.

Be sure not to miss a visit to Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum. It is on the waterfront and can be reached by a pleasant walk on the well laid out reclaimed foreshore. For an experience of a Wellington icon travel up to Kelburn on the Cable Car, running since 1902, and appreciate the fine views. To complete an interesting outing walk down through the Botanic Gardens, perhaps stopping at the Carter Observatory, and then through the Bolton Street Memorial Park, an attractive Victorian cemetery where many of the early settlers were buried.

For more on New Zealand history visit Parliament Buildings or the beautifully restored Old Government Buildings, the second-largest timber building in the world. You may choose to visit many other historic buildings and the smaller museums like the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, the National Cricket Museum and the National Tattoo Museum.

If you want to walk outside the city call at the Visitor Information Centre and pick up a map of the Northern or Southern Walkways. Walkers can start at a number of places and whichever stretch you follow there are good views over the harbour and the city. For an appreciation of New Zealand birds and bush visit Otari-Wilton's Bush and the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary or take a ferry trip to Somes Island. On the South Coast you can visit the New Zealand fur seal colony or walk bside the sea.

Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt

These cities have good facilities and there are opportunities for walking and picnicking in areas in the adjacent hills. Two places worth a visit are the Dowse Art Museum and Maori Treasure in the suburb of Waiwhetu.

Kapiti District

This area on the west coast north of Wellington has a slightly warmer climate than Wellington. Many live and work in the small towns strung along the coast and the area has attracted retired people who want to get away from the big city and many who commute daily to Wellington. Traffic pressures for commuters are a constant problem and big plans are underway to improve traffic flows.

From Paraparaumu, the largest town in Kapiti, it is possible to make a boat trip to Kapiti Island, a predator-free nature reserve. This is a worthwhile trip but it is necessary to book in advance as the Department of Conservation limits the number of visitors allowed on the island.

In Waikanae, 7km north of Paraparaumu, the Southward Car Museum has a huge collection of veteran and vintage cars. If your interest is in birds, walking and picnicking, visit the Nga Manu Nature Reserve which is home to a wide variety of New Zealand birds.

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