Wellington Region

From Academic Kids

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Present day Wellington region

The Wellington region of New Zealand occupies the southern end of the North Island.


Definitions of Wellington

The official Wellington Region, as administered by the Wellington Regional Council (under the trade-name "Greater Wellington") covers the major conurbation around the capital city, Wellington and also includes the cities of Lower Hutt, Porirua, and Upper Hutt, each of which also contains a rural hinterland. It also extends up the west coast of the North Island, taking in the coastal settlements of the Kapiti Coast district, which includes the southern fringe of the area commonly known as the Horowhenua. Three largely rural districts east of the Rimutaka Range, containing most of the area known as the Wairarapa are also part of the Wellington Region. These include the town of Masterton.

In public perception, the term "Wellington region" is much smaller, and is not likely to include either the Kapiti Coast or the Wairarapa, both of which have their own distinct communities and identities. It is thus centred more heavily on the four cities at the southwest of the region.

To add to the confusion, during the 19th century New Zealand was run by provincial governments. The Wellington Province extended far further north, taking in the cities of Palmerston North and Wanganui.


The region occupies the southern tip of the North Island, bounded to the west, south, and east by water. To the west lies the Tasman Sea and to the east the Pacific Ocean. At the southern end of the island these two massive bodies of water are joined by Cook Strait, a narrow and turbulent stretch between the two main islands of New Zealand, which is only some 28 km wide at its narrowest point, between Cape Terawhiti and Perano Head in the Marlborough Sounds.

The region covers 7,860 km2, and extends north to Otaki in the west and almost to Eketahuna in the east. Physically and topologically the region has four basinc areas running roughly parallel to each other along a northeast-southwest axis.

The first of these four regions is a narrow coastal strip of plains running north from Paekakariki. This area, known as the Kapiti coast, contains numerous small towns, many of which gain at least a proportion of their wealth from tourism, largely due to their fine beaches.

Inland from this is rough hill country, formed along the same major geologic fault responsible for the Southern Alps in the South Island. Though nowhere near as mountainous as these, the Rimutaka and Tararua Ranges are still hard country and support only small populations, although it is in small coastal valleys and plains at the southern end of these ranges that the cities of Wellington and the Hutt Valley are located.

The third topological stripe of the region is the undulating hill country of the Wairarapa around the Ruamahanga River. This area, which beomes lower and flatter in the south (terminating in the wetlands around Lake Wairarapa contains much rich farmland. The final section of the region's topology is another section of rough hill country, lower than the Tararuas but far less economic than the land around the Ruamahanga River. Both of the hillier striations of the region are still largely forested.


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Aerial view of Wellington city

Over three-quarters of the region's 445,400 people (2002 estimate) reside in the four cities at the southwestern corner of the region. Other main centres of population are largely located on the Kapiti Coast and in the fertile farming areas close to the upper Ruamahanga River in the Wairarapa.

Along the Kapiti Coast, numerous small towns sit close together, many of them occupying spaces close to popular beaches. From the north, these include Otaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu, the twin settlements of Raumati Beach and Raumati South, Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay, the last of which is a northern suburb of Porirua. Each of these settlements has a population of between 2,000 and 10,000, making this a moderately heavily populated coastline.

In the Wairarapa the largest community by a considerable distance is Masterton, with a population of almost 20,000. Other towns in the area include Featherston, Martinborough, Carterton and Greytown.

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External links

Template:Regions of New Zealand


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