|Location||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Native name||Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Māori)|
|River sources||Hutt River|
|Ocean/sea sources||Cook Strait|
Wellington Harbour (Māori: Te Whanganui-a-Tara [tɛ ˈfaŋanʉi a taɾa], historically known as Port Nicholson) is a large natural harbour on the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island. New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, is located on parts of its western and southern sides. Lower Hutt is located on parts of its northern and western sides.
The harbour, the sea area bounded by a line between Pencarrow Head to Petone foreshore, was officially named Port Nicholson until it assumed its current dual name in 1984. It is now a regional park, overseen by Wellington Regional Council.
In the Māori language the harbour is known as Te Whanganui-a-Tara, "the great harbour of Tara". Another Māori name for Wellington, Pōneke, is said to be a transliteration of Port Nick (Port Nicholson).
Wellington Harbour is an arm of Cook Strait, covering some 76 km², with a two-km wide entrance at its southern end between Pencarrow Head and Palmer Head on the tip of Miramar Peninsula. It has a maximum length of over 11 kilometres and a width of 9.25 kilometres. The harbour has an entrance over 1.6 kilometres wide from shore to shore and as it is surrounded by hills over 300 meters high, it provides sheltered anchorage in a region where wind velocities may exceed 160 k.p.h. The depth of water over the great bulk of the harbour exceeds 20 metres or 10 fathoms.
The harbour is of seismic origin, and a major earthquake fault lies along its western shore. At the northern end of the harbour lies the narrow triangular plain of the Hutt River, which largely follows the line of the earthquake fault to the north-east. The city of Lower Hutt is located on this plain.
The central city suburbs spread around the hills overlooking the west and south-west of Wellington Harbour and its two large bays, Lambton Harbour and Evans Bay. Lambton Harbour is surrounded by the reclaimed land of Wellington's central business district and contains the majority of the city's port facilities. Evans Bay is an inlet between Mt Victoria and the Miramar Peninsula that serves as a flight path to low-lying Wellington Airport. The small Oriental Bay features beaches and cafes.
To the east of the harbour lie several small bays, most of which are populated by small coastal communities. The largest of these suburban settlements is Eastbourne, directly to the east of the northern tip of the Miramar Peninsula.
The entrance to the harbour can be quite dangerous, especially since Cook Strait to the south is notoriously rough. Close to the harbour's entrance lies Barrett Reef, where rocks break the water's surface at low tide.
Te Whanganui a Tara, another Māori name from the area, translates literally as "the great harbour of Tara". It is believed to refer to Whatonga's son Tara, who was sent down from the Māhia Peninsula by his fatherm to explore southern lands for their people to settle.
Port Nicholson allegedly received its name from Captain James Herd, who sailed into the Harbour of Tara in 1826 and left it with its first European name, calling it after Sydney's Harbourmaster Captain John Nicholson.
The 1855 Wairarapa earthquake uplifted the north-western side of the Wellington bay. This led to the reclamation of Wellington Harbour, which increased the availability of flat land for Wellington City.
Wellington Harbour is a significant port serving the lower North Island, with the Regional Council-owned company Centreport recording around 14,000 commercial shipping movements each year. Wellington Harbour, the region's third largest container port, is located in Wellington City. There is a tanker terminal at Seaview in Lower Hutt.
Wellington harbour ferries first began operating at the end of the 19th century and regular crossings from central Wellington to Days Bay continue today. The harbour is also used by inter-island ferries, linking Wellington to Picton. A project to develop a walking and cycling route around the harbour, the Great Harbour Way, is gathering momentum.
The Wellington South Coast and harbour entrance is exposed to open sea, providing places to dive and fish. There are also fishing spots at the rocks and reclamations within the harbour.
The harbour accommodates a range of activities, with five water ski lanes, an area for personal water craft and areas for windsurfing. Several rowing, waka ama and yachting clubs operate from the harbour.
Small boat craft can anchor at Mākaro / Ward Island and Mokopuna Island and can also visit the Matiu / Somes Island reserve during daylight hours. Harbour cruises also travel regularly between the main Wellington waterfront, Matiu / Somes Island, Days Bay and Petone.
HMS Indefatigable, 1945
QE2 slips out the entrance in a following breeze, 2006
HMNZS Canterbury, 2007
Aotea Quay, Queen Mary 2, 2011
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wellington Harbour.|
- "Wellington Harbour". gw.govt.nz. Wellington Regional Council.
- "Place name detail: Wellington Harbour (Port Nicholson)". New Zealand Gazetteer. New Zealand Geographic Board. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
- David Allan Hamer & Roberta Nicholls, (editors). The Making of Wellington, 1800–1914, Victoria University Press, 1990 ISBN 0-86473-200-7
- F. L. Irvine-Smith. The Streets of My City, Wellington New Zealand, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington New Zealand 1948.
- Tony Deverson and Graeme Kennedy (Ed.) The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 9780195584516
- A. H. McLintock, (editor). Port Nicholson (Wellington Harbour), An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, published 1966. ISBN 978-0-478-18451-8
- "Wellington's Māori History". newzealand.com. Tourism New Zealand.
- "Wellington Waterfront History". wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz. Wellington Waterfront.
- Maclean, Chris (15 June 2008). "Wellington". Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 16 August 2008.
- "Wellington Waterfront Reclamation". wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz. Wellington Waterfront.
- "Centreport Continues its Big Ship Agenda". centreport.co.nz. Centreport.