Wellington City Guide

by Bob Sheth on August 17, 2008

in New Zealand

movingtonewzealandIMAGE200The capital of New Zealand is Wellington and the city is located near the center of the country. The city lies at the intersection of Greater Wellington located at the southwestern tip of the Northern Island on the Cook Straight. As New Zealand’s capital, the city hosts Parliament, the government’s department offices and most of the diplomatic corps to the country. Aside from being the political center of Kiwi country, it is a bustling seaport for the transport and transshipment of commercial goods for industries all throughout the country. The city’s economy also produces processed food, machines for transport and other industries, printed materials, and textiles for industrial and clothing purposes.

Aside from the country’s administrative center, it is also rich in culture and entertainment venues. There is the Museum of New Zealand or Te Papa Tongarewa, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the biennial International Festival of the Arts are hosted by the city.  These cultural centers and events enrich what is already a historic city in New Zealand though there are some aspects of life in Kiwiland which makes many ask questions.

The first white settlers in the country were British immigrants sent by the New Zealand Company in 1840. The first settlement was at Petone, which was then called Britannia, on a flat plain near the Hutt River mouth area. This settlement first became the country’s capital in 1865. Auckland, which was then the country’s premier city was superseded by Wellington by edict of then governor William Hobson. The settlement was renamed Wellington in honor of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and hero of the Battle of Waterloo.

Residential Places in Wellington

There are two major residential areas in Wellington as determined by its city planners. The first is the Inner Residential Area where most of the inner town belt and central city is located. This area is the most accessible area to the many services and establishments found in the city proper. Most residential units built are apartment flats and renovated 19th century bungalows and villas. The area is comprised of the suburban areas of Lampton Ward, namely Aro Valley, Mount Victoria, Thorndon, Te Aro, Highbury, Kelburn, Pipitea, Brooklyn, Oriental Bay, Wadestown and Roseneath. The other wards of this district include Island Bay and Mt. Cook in the Southern Ward, Karori in the Western Ward or the so-called Onslow, Khandallah Ngaio in the Northern Ward and Seatoun, Kilbirnie, Miramar and Hataitai of the Eastern Ward.

The second area in the city’s urban plan is called the Outer Residential Area.  Due to its wider area, many of the available residences are detached, single unit homes spread in suburbs named Broadmeadows, Johnsonville, Horokiwi and Paparangi of the Northern Ward. In the Western Ward, the Kaiwharawhara, Ngaio and Makara while at the Southern Ward there is Newtown, Vogeltown, Kingston and Owhiro Bay. There is also Seatoun, Breaker Bay, Melrose and Rongotai of the Eastern Ward.

Hospitals and Universities of Wellington

Wellington is also the location of many colleges and universities in the country. Foremost among these is the Victoria University of Wellington that was established in 1897. The university is spread over four campuses, namely Pipitea Campus, Te Aro campus, Karori campus and Kelburn campus. The university was a former college of the University of New Zealand, but upon the dissolution of the UNZ in 1961, it became an autonomous university offering programs in law, humanities and other scientific fields of endeavor. It is also one of the three universities that offer architecture as a degree program. Its student population is hefty 3,400 both local and international students. Its faculty is well renowned, chief among them is Jane Campion, the Cannes Palm D’Or and Academy Award winning director, Prof. Alan MacDiarmid, the 2000 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry and Hon. Georgina Te Heuheu, the first Maori woman to earn a law degree in the country.

Also located in Wellington is a campus under the auspices of the Massey University, which is the largest state university in the country. Located in the suburb of Mt. Cool, the university has the largest business college in the country and offers other degree programs majoring in aviation, dispute resolution and veterinary medicine. The veterinary medicine program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, making it internationally recognized.

There is also the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences under the wing of the University of Otago and the polytechnical college called the Wellington Institute of Technology.


The city also is the venue of many government and private health care facilities that are the most modern in the country. The residents, immigrants and workers with permits can benefit free medical services on some procedures from these hospitals. This is availed of when in conjunction with immigrants to the county. Do remember insurance is an important aspect of immigration as medical care, prescription medication and dental care is quite an expense in New Zealand.

The main hospital of the city is Wellington Hospital and is governed by the Capital and Coast District Health Board and its address is on Riddiford Street in the suburb of Newtown. For acute hospital care specializing in cardiology, cardiac surgery, intensive care, cancer care, neurosurgery and renal care, the best facility is Wellington Hospital.  It is also the teaching hospital of the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Otago.

Commercial Establishments in Wellington

Due to the foresight of the city planners, many of the locations for commercial establishments are within easy distance. The highest concentration of shops and centers are in the downtown area, especially at Lambton Quay, which is called the “Golden Mile” due to the proliferation of department stores and designer boutiques. The largest shopping center in Wellington is located here, the Capital on the Quay, with over thirty shops and cafes which offer apparel and homeware, among others. There is also the Harbour City Center with its midrange shops and dining restaurants. The oldest department store is also in this area and its name Kirkcaldie and Stains was opened in 1863.

The city also boasts of several market places that provide gourmet products as well as fresh produce for its patrons. These are namely Wellington Market on Taranaki and Wakefield, James Smith Market and Left Bank on Cuba Street, Moore Wilson Fresh Food Market on Lorne Street and Waitangi Park Market at the Waterfront.

Dining Establishments

Wellington is also hands down the culinary mecca in New Zealand. There are many dining establishments scattered over Cuba Street, Lampton Quay and Courtenay Place offering both local and foreign culinary delights for all. There are Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Malaysian and Thai restaurants in and around the named area. For continental cuisine, there are several restaurants offering American, French, Italian and contemporary local fare for residents and tourists alike. Aside from filling the stomach, there are many other cafes, pubs, bars and nightclubs that make the nightlife in the area truly a memorable and fulfilling one.

Service Establishments of Wellington

There are a few major players in the New Zealand telecommunications market. First and biggest is Telecom New Zealand which provides landlines, broadband and mobile connectivity to its clients through a number of established subsidiaries. There is also Telstra and ihug Ltd which offers landline  and broadband access, while Vodafone focuses on mobile services for the city of Wellington and the country.

New Zealand is rich in power generation means and many companies provide the production as well as distribution of electrical and fuel needs of the city’s residents. These companies include Genesis Energy and Powerco.

Embassies in Wellington

Most of the diplomatic corps of New Zealand hold office in Wellington. As the country’s capital, many of the embassies and foreign residences of other countries hold their addresses in the city.

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