ISS016-E-005121 (21 Oct. 2007) --- Wellington, New Zealand is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 16 crewmember on the International Space Station. New Zealand's capital of Wellington is located at the southwestern tip of North Island near the Cook Strait.
The city is the second largest in New Zealand (after Auckland), and at 41 degrees south latitude, it is the southernmost capital city of the world. The North and South Islands of New Zealand are located along the active Australian-Pacific tectonic plate boundary -- the Islands are only a small part of a larger submerged fragment of continental crust. The glancing collision of these two tectonic plates results in uplift of the land surface, expressed as low hills on North Island and the Southern Alps on South Island. Local topography visible in this view is a result of these tectonic forces and weathering processes, which have exerted a strong influence on the morphology of the city. Tightly clustered white rooftops and high building density of the central business district are visible to the south of the Westpac Stadium between vegetated (green) northeast-southwest trending ridges.
Lower density development (gray gridded regions with scattered white rooftops) has spread eastwards along the Miramar Peninsula. Five major faults that run through the Wellington metropolitan area; the largest magnitude earthquake recorded in New Zealand (approximately 8.2 on the Richter Scale) occurred in 1855 on one of these (the Wairarapa Fault). Recognition of the potential seismic hazard in the metropolitan area has led to adoption of building codes to maximize structural resistance to earthquake damage.