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Cities in the Spotlight; Wellington, New Zealand

Updated: Mar 11

Today we continue our look at Cities in the Spotlight by looking at Wellington, New Zealand.

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Wellington City Information

Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and the Wairarapa. It is the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

The position of Wellington as capital of New Zealand is not defined in legislation, but established by convention. Its metropolitan area comprises four local authorities: Wellington City, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district; Porirua City on Porirua Harbour to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; Lower Hutt City and Upper Hutt City are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley. These four cities are considered large parts of Wellington, but are governed separately. The Wellington urban area, which only includes urbanised areas within Wellington City, has a population of 215,100 residents as of June 2020. The urban areas of the four local authorities have a combined population of 429,700 residents as of June 2020.


Wellington Historical Significance

As the nation's capital since 1865, the New Zealand Government and Parliament, the Supreme Court, and most of the public service are based in the city. Architectural sights include the Old Government Buildings—one of the largest wooden buildings in the world—as well as the iconic Beehive, the executive wing of Parliament Buildings. Wellington is also home to several of the largest and oldest cultural institutions in the nation, such the National Archives, the National Library, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and numerous theatres. It plays host to many artistic and cultural organisations, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet. One of the world's most liveable cities, the 2016 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Wellington 12th in the world, and was first in the world for both liveability and non-pollution by Deutsche Bank, from 2017 to 2018. Wellington's economy is primarily service-based, with an emphasis on finance, business services, and government. It is the centre of New Zealand's film and special effects industries, and increasingly a hub for information technology and innovation, with two public research universities. 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 the Wairarapa, and ferries connect the city to the South Island.

The culture of Wellington is a diverse and often youth-driven one which has yielded influence across Oceania. Cultural precincts such as Cuba Street and Newtown are renowned for creative innovation, "op shops", historic character, and food. The city leads in large summer festivals, such as CubaDupa and the Newtown Festival. The city is known for its coffee scene, with now-globally common foods and drinks such as the flat white probably invented here. Coffee culture in Wellington is vastly overrepresented- the city has more cafés per capita than New York City in the United States- and was pioneered by Italian and Greek immigrants to areas such as Mount Victoria, Island Bay and Miramar. Nascent influence is derived from Ethiopian migrants. It has a strong art scene, with hundreds of art galleries. Most of these are small and independent, but the four major ones are New Zealand's national museum Te Papa Tongarewa, City Gallery Wellington, Pātaka and the Dowse.

Wellington's cultural vibrance and diversity is well-known across the world. It is New Zealand's 2nd most ethnically diverse city, bested only by Auckland, and boasts a "melting pot" culture of significant minorities such as Malaysian, Italian, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Samoan and indigenous Taranaki Whānui communities as a result. Described by Lonely Planet in 2013 as "the coolest little capital in the world", the global city has grown from a bustling Māori settlement, to a remote colonial outpost, and from there to an Australasian capital that has experienced a "remarkable creative resurgence".


Travel to Wellington

*Taken from Lonely Planet*

On a sunny, windless day, Wellington is up there with the best of them. For starters it’s lovely to look at, sitting on a hook-shaped harbour ringed with ranges that wear a cloak of snow in winter. Victorian timber architecture laces the bushy hillsides above the harbour, which resonate with native birdsong.

As cities go, it's really rather small but the compact nature of the downtown area gives it a bigger-city buzz and, being the capital, it's endowed with museums, theatres, galleries and arts organisations completely disproportionate to its size. Wellingtonians are rightly proud of their kickin' caffeine and craft-beer scene, and there's no shortage of beard-wearing, skateboard-lugging, artsy types doing interesting things in old warehouses across town.

Sadly, windless days are not the norm for Wellington. In New Zealand the city is infamous for two things: its frequent tremors and its umbrella-shredding, hairstyle-destroying gales that barrel through regularly.


Must See Sites

Wellington Museum; For an imaginative, interactive experience of Wellington’s social and maritime history, head to this bewitching little museum, inside an 1892 bond store on the wharf. Highlights include a moving documentary on the Wahine, the interisland ferry that sank in the harbour in 1968 with the loss of 51 lives, and the curio-packed Attic. Māori legends are dramatically told using tiny holographic actors and special effects. The Attic's eclectic exhibits including a whizz-bang time machine and a suitably kooky display on Wellington vampire flick What We Do In The Shadows. Ship 'N' Chip Tour participants get a guided tour of the museum before they set off on their boat tour.

Zealandia; This groundbreaking ecosanctuary is nooked into a valley in the hills about 2km west of downtown Wellington. Living wild within the fenced, predator-free habitat are more than 30 native bird species, including rare little spotted kiwi, takahe, saddleback, hihi and kaka, as well as NZ's little dinosaur, the tuatara. An excellent exhibition relays NZ’s natural history and world-renowned conservation story. Buses 2 and 21 stop nearby, or see the Zealandia website for info on the free shuttle. More than 30km of tracks can be explored independently, or on regular guided tours. Twilight and night tours provide an opportunity to spot nocturnal creatures including kiwi, frogs and glowworms.

Mount Victoria Lookout; The city's most impressive viewpoint is atop 196m-high Mt Victoria (Matairangi), east of the city centre. You can take bus 20 most of the way up, but the rite of passage is to sweat it out on the walk (ask a local for directions or just follow your nose). If you’ve got wheels, take Oriental Pde along the waterfront and then scoot up Carlton Gore Rd. Aside from the views there are some interesting info panels to ogle.

Wellington Botanical Gardens; These hilly, 25-hectare botanic gardens can be effortlessly visited via the Wellington Cable Car, although there are several other entrances hidden in the hillsides. The gardens boast a tract of original native forest, the beaut Lady Norwood Rose Garden, 25,000 spring tulips and various international plant collections. Add in fountains, a playground, sculptures, a duck pond, cafe, the Space Place observatory and the small-but-nifty Cable Car Museum and you’ve a busy day out.

Wellington Cable Car; One of Wellington’s big-ticket attractions is the little red cable car that clanks up the slope from Lambton Quay to Kelburn. At the top are the Wellington Botanic Gardens, Space Place and the small but nifty Cable Car Museum. The last of these evocatively depicts the cable car’s story since it was built in 1902 to open up hilly Kelburn for settlement. Ride the cable car back down the hill, or wander down through the gardens. An essential Wellington experience.


Must Try Food & Drink

Pavlova; Delicate as the ballerina it was named after, Pavlova is the quintessential summer dessert. Whipped cream is typically dolloped on top of a snowy meringue, followed by a pop of color in the form of fruit, preferably the tart varieties which contrast the sweetness of the meringue. Research suggests Pavlova is a descendant of the German torte and was invented in the 1920s during Anna Pavlova's tour of Australia and New Zealand, although the exact inventor is still debated. The first recipe for Pavlova appeared in print in 1926, although it was not the dessert we know today, but was instead a multi-colored gelatine dish. The base of the cake is prepared almost identically as any meringue, by beating egg whites stiffly, then incorporating sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch. Traditional toppings include whipped cream or lemon curd, and the dessert is often prepared during Christmastime.

Bacon and Egg Pie; Bacon and egg pie is a New Zealander favorite consisting of a combination of flaky pastry, egg yolks, and salty bacon. It is a staple at picnics throughout the country, and many people recommend consuming the pie when it cools down. Once served, it is recommended to pair it with ketchup or any kind of tomato sauce.

Anzac Biscuits; Anzac biscuits are sweet cookies made from a combination of flour, oats, golden syrup, butter, sugar, coconut, and soda bicarbonate. Although the origins of these cookies are not clear, both Australia and New Zealand claim to have invented Anzac biscuits that we know today. The first known recipe for the biscuits is completely different than modern Anzacs, although other similar recipes were found in the cookbooks of the early 1900s. The cookies are linked to Anzac Day, a day of remembrance of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landing at Gallipoli, because some believe that the biscuits were sent to Anzac soldiers during the war.However, the oaty, buttery biscuits were more often prepared at home to sell them at fundraising events, so they got connected to the war, and it led to the use of the name Anzacs. Today, these simple biscuits are usually found in most supermarkets and cafés throughout Australia and New Zealand, ranging from crispy to chewy, making them ideal to dunk into a cup of hot coffee or tea.

Jelly Slice; Equally popular in New Zealand and Australia, this colorful dessert consists of a cookie base that is topped with a creamy custard and finished off with a layer of smooth jelly. The custard is typically lemon-flavored and based on condensed milk, while the top is usually prepared with vibrant red-colored jelly or fruit jams. Mainly associated with festive occasions and family gatherings, jelly slices are always served well-chilled.

Flat White; The flat white is synonymous to New Zealand coffee culture. Its name is a mystery and its ownership a contested debate between NZ and Australia. Fizzy drink that loses its fizz is referred to as ‘flat’ and in Wellington, 1989, a failed cappuccino was referred to as a ‘flat white’ – thus a beautiful new coffee was born. A double shot of espresso combined with thick, silky milk that has a thin band of foam head. Less milky than a latte, less foamy than a cappuccino.

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc; Marlborough produces a white wine grape variety that put New Zealand on the international wine map. Sauvignon is usually full of pungent, grassy flavours that are internationally associated with New Zealand wine style. Pairs well with green vegetables, salad, dishes filled with herbs, and grilled fish.


Travel Guide Books

Rough Guides

Lonely Planet

National Geographic


Hope you enjoyed today's post. Have an awesome day.


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