Wellington, the seat of government since 1865, is between the sea and towering hillsides that form a natural arena with the harbor as the stage. The ferries carve patterns on the green water while preening seabirds survey the scene. Houses cascade down the steep hillsides and create a vibrant collage of colorful rooftops against a spectacular green backdrop. An old brick monastery peers down on the marina—a jigsaw of
masts and sails bobbing alongside the impressive Te Papa museum. Modern high-rises gaze over Port Nicholson, one of the finest natural anchorages in the world. Known to local Māori as the Great Harbor of Tara, its two massive arms form the "jaws of the fish of Maui" (Maui is the name of a god from Māori legend).