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Porirua City within Wellington Region.png
Population: 51,400
(June 2009 estimate)[1]
Urban area
Extent: N to Pukerua Bay;
W to Cook Strait, Titahi Bay; E to Pauatahanui;
SW to Kenepuru
Territorial Authority
Name: Porirua City
Mayor: Jenny Brash
Extent: N to near Paekakariki;
NE to Transmission Gully; W to Tasman Sea, Titahi Bay; E to Judgeford; S to Belmont Regional Park;
SW to Kenepuru
Land Area: 182.39 km² (70.42 sq mi)
See also: Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Wellington, Kapiti Coast
Regional Council
Name: Greater Wellington

Porirua is a city in the Wellington Region of New Zealand, immediately north of the city of Wellington, with their central business districts 20 km apart. A large proportion of the population commutes to Wellington, so it may be considered a satellite city. It almost completely surrounds Porirua Harbour at the southern end of the Kapiti Coast. The eastern (Pauatahanui) inlet of the harbour is notable for its world-class estuarine values. The population at the June 2009 estimate was 51,400[1].



The name "Porirua" is of Māori origin. It is possibly a variant of "Pari-rua" ("two tides"), a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour. The name was given in the 19th century to a land registration district that stretched from Kaiwharawhara (or Kaiwarra) on the north-west shore of Wellington Harbour northwards to and around Porirua Harbour. The road climbing the hill from Kaiwharawhara towards Ngaio and Khandallah is still called Old Porirua Road.

In the 19th century a small European settlement grew up, partly because of the need for a ferry across the harbour. At the time a small Māori settlement already existed.

The Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company opened the railway line to Porirua in 1885, linking the city with Wellington. The railway reached Longburn, south of Palmerston North, in 1886, to connect with the Government's lines to Taranaki and Napier. With the acquisition of the company by the government in 1908, the line to Porirua formed part of the North Island Main Trunk railway. The railway contributed much to the growth of Plimmerton and Paremata by making day-trips to the beaches from Wellington's northern suburbs relatively easy. The line through to Porirua was electrified in 1940 following the construction of the Tawa Flat deviation.

In the 1880s and 1890s the Porirua Lunatic Asylum was established on the hill south-west of the village. Following the Mental Defectives Act of 1911, the Asylum became Porirua Mental Hospital.

Originally planned in the late 1940s to become a satellite city of Wellington with state housing, Porirua has grown to a city population approaching 51,000, with state housing no longer in the majority. Major territorial additions to the city were made in 1973 and 1988 as part of the reduction and eventual abolition of Hutt County.

Substantial industrial areas generally west of the city centre were established in the 1960s and 1970s, dominated by the Todd Motors building (later Mitsubishi), prominent in the panorama below.

In 1976 the first McDonald's restaurant in New Zealand opened in the city centre; however the original site closed on 29 April 2009, and the store relocated to Kenepuru Drive.[2][3]

Suburbs and features

Suburbs include:

Rural localities include Judgeford and Horokiri.

Porirua is largely formed around the arms of the Porirua Harbour and the coastline facing out to Cook Strait and the north-eastern parts of the South Island. Most of the populated areas of Porirua are coastal: Camborne, Karehana Bay, Mana, Onepoto, Papakowhai, Paremata, Pauatahanui, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Takapuwahia, Titahi Bay and Whitby all have direct access to coastal parks and recreation reserves. Several suburbs without direct coastal access, including Aotea, Ascot Park, Elsdon and Ranui Heights, have substantial portions with good views over the harbour.

Watersports, fishing and other boating activities are popular in the area, well served by a large marina in Mana and Sea Scouts, yachting, power-boating, rowing, and water-skiing clubs. The harbour entrance from Plimmerton or Mana is popular with experienced windsurfers and kitesurfers[4] while beginners find the shallow enclosed waters of the Pauatahanui arm of the harbour a forgiving environment in which to develop their skills.[5] Aotea Lagoon is a popular recreational area on the south-eastern shore of the Porirua Inlet.

Police College chalets above the Aotea Lagoon, with Colonial Knob on the skyline above the city centre (obscured) and Elsdon and Takapuwahia

Porirua is the home of the Royal New Zealand Police College, where all police recruits receive some 19 weeks' training.

Just up the road from Aotea Lagoon is Aotea College, the secondary school closest to the northern suburbs. Older colleges are Mana and Bishop Viard near the city centre and Porirua in the south-east. Tertiary education is provided by Whitireia Polytechnic, which has its main campus north of the city centre.

Porirua is home to Northern United RFC and Paremata-Plimmerton RFC, two clubs playing in the Wellington Rugby Football Union club rugby competition.

Transport links

State Highway 1 passes north-south through the middle of the city, linking Porirua southwards to Wellington and northwards to the Kapiti Coast and the bulk of the North Island. Porirua is the northern terminus of the Johnsonville-Porirua motorway (opened progressively from 1950), which forms part of State Highway 1. State Highway 58 links Paremata via Whitby and Pauatahanui with Haywards in the Hutt Valley to the east.

The Ara Harakeke is a pathway that runs alongside SH1 and the Taupo Swamp, north of Plimmerton. The first section was opened in 2002.[6] Porirua City Council won a Cycle Friendly Award for this project from the Cycling Advocates' Network in 2003.

The North Island Main Trunk railway line passes through Porirua, mostly close to State Highway 1, with six stations inside the city and one on the Wellington City border. Suburban passenger trains run between Wellington and Paraparaumu (generally half-hourly except at peak periods), and the Overlander long-distance train between Auckland and Wellington calls southbound but not northbound.

The nearest airports are Wellington Airport to the south (the closest), and Paraparaumu Airport to the north.

Ferry services ran between Paremata and Picton for short periods but appeared unable to compete with Wellington-based services despite the shorter distance.

City Administration

The area is administered by Porirua City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The name Porirua was first applied to a council in 1961 when Makara County, to the west of Wellington, was abolished, the mostly rural western part becoming the Makara Ward of Hutt County and the rapidly growing eastern urban portion (including Titahi Bay) becoming the Borough of Porirua. Four years later the population was officially estimated at over the 20,000 threshold then necessary for Porirua to be declared a city.

On 1 April 1973 large areas to the north-east (and a few elsewhere) were transferred to the city from Hutt County by popular vote. Mana Island was added to the city at the same time. In 1988 a further addition was the Horokiri riding of the about-to-be-abolished county, containing most of the new Whitby suburb and substantial rural areas.

The city and its council have remained (with changes of personnel and ward boundaries) into the 21st century despite proposals to change the name to "Mana" and several small movements for amalgamation with Wellington.

Late afternoon view; Hongoeka Bay and Titahi Bay near top left; Ranui Heights and Kenepuru mid-to-bottom right

Councillors and other notable residents

Notable councillors of Porirua have included Whitford Brown (first Mayor); Ken Douglas (trade unionist); Ken Gray (former All Black); Gary McCormick (media personality); Helen Smith (the first member of the Values Party to be elected to local government); and Tutu Wineera (a kaumatua of the Ngāti Toa iwi).

Other prominent residents have included film maker Peter Jackson, All Black Rodney So'oialo, former All Black Jerry Collins, Black Fern Aimee Sutorius, musician Matt Chicoine (aka Recloose)[7], poet Alistair Campbell, golfer Michael Campbell, popstar Rob Arnold and singer/songwriter Ramon Te Wake.

Sister-city relationships


External links

Search Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Porirua

Coordinates: 41°08′S 174°51′E / 41.133°S 174.85°E / -41.133; 174.85


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Porirua [1] is a city in the Wellington urban area at the south end of the North Island of New Zealand. The central business district is about 20km north of Wellington. Population about 50,000, and mean household income fourth-highest among cities and districts in New Zealand. The central business district is near the southern boundary, south-west of the less picturesque of the two landlocked arms of the Porirua Harbour.

  • From Wellington or Petone, take State Highway 1 up the Ngauranga Gorge and glide down the motorway to the Porirua offramp. The alternative route (compulsory for cyclists) from Johnsonville follows Middleton Road then goes through Tawa.
  • From Wairarapa and most of the Hutt Valley, take State Highway 58 over the Haywards Hill to Pauatahanui; then
    • go straight ahead at the roundabout to go to most parts of the city (or turn right for the most northerly suburbs).
      • The quick way to the CBD is to follow the State highway along the south shore of the Pauatahanui Inlet to State Highway 1 at the occasionally congested Paremata Roundabout and turn left to drive south-west to the Porirua offramp;
      • To take a little longer but see more housing and lakes close up, turn left just past the roundabout to go through Whitby and eastern suburbs.
  • From Manawatu, Horowhenua, or Kapiti Coast, follow the signs that say "Porirua" and/or "Wellington" and you will be in Porirua's northern suburbs 10-15 minutes after leaving Paekakariki: first is Pukerua Bay, where Peter Jackson first made movies and where poets Alistair and Meg Campbell live; next is Plimmerton, about which Denis Glover wrote a poem.

By train

Catch a suburban unit on the Paraparaumu line from Wellington railway station: about $5 to Porirua, $6 to Paremata or Plimmerton (but discounts from 9am to 3pm). Units leave about every half hour. There are express units at peak times, so check the stations that the unit stops at before boarding. All stop at Porirua, but not all go further, and for some the next stop is Plimmerton.

Or from Paraparaumu or Paekakariki stations in the north, not quite as frequent.

At Porirua the main shopping centre is just across the stream from the main railway station, and buses depart for numerous suburbs. Other stations are Kenepuru in the south (within walking distance of the Kenepuru Hospital and parts of Linden), then north from the city centre in order Paremata (where buses leave for Whitby), Mana, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, and Muri.

Suburban trains carry bicycles (in the compartment at the south end of each pair of units) for an extra adult fare. Wheelchair travel is OK, with train crew happy to get the ramp in place and help you in and out (also at the south end of each pair of units).

By bus

Interprovincial buses generally stop at Plimmerton, Paremata, and central Porirua. Regular services link Porirua with Wellington's northern suburbs from Johnsonville (a suburban train terminus) to Tawa/Linden. There are no direct local buses to Wellington, however service N6 runs to Porirua and Plimmerton from central Wellington on Friday and Saturday nights at 1am, 2am and 3am. The one-way fare is $10

Get around

Mana Transport operate numerous services which mostly operate out of the rail station's forecourt to Porirua's suburbs as well as towards surrounding towns. Fares are based on distance - a typical city-suburb journey will cost about $3. Wellington's Snapper Card is accepted.

  • Colonial Knob, to the west, may get snow in winter but at other times is a rewarding few hours' walk for great views of Cook Strait and beyond.
  • Pauatahanui Inlet, with its eastern end a wildlife sanctuary having one of the highest densities of copepods in the world.
  • Battle Hill Farm Park is a regional park combining farming with public recreation. See the site of one of the "Hutt Valley Campaign" skirmishes of 1846.
  • The New Zealand Police Museum at The Royal New Zealand Police College campus, Papakowhai Road, Papakowhai, Porirua. Take the Aotea Lagoon/Papakowhai (Whitford Brown) highway exit from State Highway 1, about 2 km north of Porirua (on the right travelling north) or 1 km south of the Paremata roundabout (on the left travelling south). Turn left at the the foot of the hill into Papakowhai Road and look out for the signs. Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm (or by appointment). Admission Charges: adults $5, children $3, family group $10 Phone: +64 4 238 3141, fax: +64 4 237 0129
  • Visit Pataka, the museum and art gallery that shares an entrance with the Public Library. See the Japanese Garden (contributed by sister city Nishio). Check one of the North Island's best genealogical collections at the library.
  • Takapuwahia Marae is the headquarters of the Ngati Toa tribe, who immigrated from the Waikato in the 1820s under Te Rauparaha; across the harbour, see the small historic reserve in Plimmerton where the Government captured him in 1846, and which seems to be in better condition than the ruins of the stone fort that was built in the same year at "Parramatta" (now the Ngatitoa Domain) but dismembered by an earthquake very soon after.
  • Enjoy Plimmerton Beach (one minute from the railway station) and maybe watch yet another future world champion windsurfer or boardsailor beating the breezes. One of the city's oldest settlements, dating from the nineteenth century when Plimmer and others pushed the Wellington and Manawatu Railway through.
  • Admire Gear Homestead in Okowai, originally built for a meat magnate, now the home of a pottery group and highly sought after for wedding receptions.


Fast-growing tertiary institution, Whitireia Polytechnic, has headquarters just north of central business district and several campuses in other cities.


A major attraction of central Porirua is its shops and mall, with the 12-storey Wrightson Building (linking with New Zealand's earliest pastoral service companies) overlooking most. Saturday morning early-birds may pick up fresh cheap produce at the central city open-air market.


The usual bakeries, fast-food restaurants, dairies (convencience stores), fish & chip shops and Chinese takeaways can be found scattered around the city. The North City Mall (opposite Porirua train station) has a large foodcourt with the usual Asian and fast-food.

There are 3 major supermarkets - New World is a little pricey but has the highest quality products - located at North City Mall opposite the train statoin. There are cheaper Countdown and Pak'n'Save supermarkets about 5 minutes walk to the north.

The only 24-hour stores to pick up late night snacks/pies/cigarettes etc are the small convenience stores attached to gas stations around the city. Note that these stores do not sell alcohol although nearby liquor stores will also open late.


Nightlife and bars in Porirua are almost non-existant - most Poriruaites will head to downtown Wellington on Friday and Saturday nights - if you stay out late enough it's possible to return to Porirua at around 5am when the first trains start running in the morning, alternatively a night-bus (N6) runs hourly between midnight and 4am from Courtney Place to Porirua (continuing to Plimmerton) - one way $10. There are a handful of small bars (known as 'Taverns') close to the North City shopping mall however they lack atmosphere and can become very rowdy so therefore should be avoided.


You cannot taste all the city's delights in one day, so a motel or the beachfront Moana Lodge World Traveller Accommodation (20 min walk from Plimmerton railway station) may appeal, or one of several bed-and-breakfast establishments.

  • The Kapiti Coast, north up State Highway 1, or via the Paekakariki Hill road from Pauatahanui, has several good beaches. Paekakariki Hill offers an excellent view and a hang-gliding ridge.
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