Wellington is located in the centre of New Zealand at the southern end of the North Island. The city is surrounded by Wellington harbor and hills arrayed in the lush, dense, subtropical vegetation of the New Zealand bush. The waterfront area between downtown and Oriental Bay is a popular recreation area for visitors and city residents alike. Wellington's collection of historical timber houses is displayed on the green hills surrounding the harbor. From the city centre it is only a quick drive to mountains, open countryside and rugged coastlines.
The Maori settled this land about 1000 years ago. Today Maori people live throughout New Zealand, and the ancient beliefs of Maori culture are recognized and respected by New Zealand's leaders today. Visitors can walk around Queens Wharf to Oriental Bay for a swim at the golden sand beach or try sea kayaking, rollerblading and rock-climbing. There are many additional walking trails to follow, from coastal tracks to hikes through the hills. A popular family venue is Otari-Wiltonís Bush, the only public botanic garden in the country devoted entirely to the cultivation, study and preservation of native plants.