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Put some wellie into it - HowTo.co.uk

(EMAILWIRE.COM, March 28, 2009 ) New Zealand - Long the poor relation to its bigger, brasher neighbour Auckland; Wellington has most definitely come of age and has transformed into a buzzing capital city, awash with trendy cafes and elegant restaurants, all set against a backdrop of breathtaking natural beauty…

Maori legend goes that the ‘head of Maui’s fish’ was caught and pulled to the surface by Polynesian navigator Maui and the fish then became New Zealand’s North Island.

Lying at the at the southwestern tip of the North Island between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range, New Zealand’s capital, capital, Wellington, has emerged from years of virtual obscurity and poor reputation to become a much sought after destination in which to work, live and holiday.

Named in honour of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and victor of the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington historically suffered from a lack of tourists who were lured instead to Australia and Fiji.

When it came to kiwis, they gravitated towards Auckland, bypassing Wellington completely.

Fast forward to 2008 and Wellington is having the last laugh, now well known as arts and culture hub and regularly hosting some of the biggest annual and biennial events in the country, such as the New Zealand International Arts Festival, NZI Sevens Rugby and the Cuba St Carnival.

The architecture has been compared to San Francisco and the surrounding hillsides to the wild beauty of Tasmania but Wellington’s stunning vista of lush valleys, rivers and white beaches hide a veritable powerhouse of achievement.

Not only is the city home to some world class educational institutions, it boasts the most highly educated people working in New Zealand and also houses the country’s Government, in a building named the Beehive.

Wellington’s CBD is fairly compact, so you can reach any part of it on foot. It is divided into four main districts, in which almost 382,000 people reside. This figure is expected to see steady growth over the next decade.

The city also boasts some famous locals too, including Peter Jackson, who directed Lord of the Rings and King Kong and the Flight of the Conchords comedy duo - Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. (The latter are a bit like marmite - you either love or hate them).

The city’s nightlife is centred around Courtenay Place in the Courtenay Quarter. This is also a central hub for the public bus system, including the airport bus service.

The Cuba Quarter harbours a vast number of restaurants, cafés and bars. Walk up the pedestrian-only section of Cuba Street or the pedestrian-only stretch of Manners Street and soak in the atmosphere.

Lambton Quarter is centred around Lambton Quay and is a very popular street for retail therapy.

You can walk along the Waterfront District from Whitmore Street to Oriental Parade. Along the way, you’ll pass the Events Centre, Museum of Wellington City and Sea, Frank Kitts Park and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, ending up at the marina.

The great divide

Wellingtonians are hugely proud of their city and a divide exists between them and Aucklanders, both certain of the superiority of their city.

Eighty eight per cent of Wellingtonians rate their quality of life as good or very good while 84 per cent say they are proud of how the city looks and feels.

Thus, Wellington locals were thrilled when their city was voted as having the 12th best quality of living in the world in 2007 by consulting company Mercer.

They were less thrilled when Auckland scooped 5th place in this years’ Mercer survey, whilst Wellington scraped in at unlucky 13.

Auckland and Wellington both received perfect scores for housing, with surveyors commenting on their attractive rental properties and prestigious residential districts. They tied at 10th in the world for personal safety.

Auckland Mayor John Banks said the results were “very flattering” but he would like to see Auckland at number one. “To be frank, there is much room for progress and even more room for improvement.”

The rivalry continues…

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