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Upper Hutt (Māori: Orongomai) is a satellite-town of Wellington Citymarker. It is New Zealandmarker's smallest city by population, the second largest by land area. It is part of Greater Wellingtonmarker.


The city is 30 km north-east of Wellington, and is centred on the upper (northern) valley of the Hutt Rivermarker, which flows north-east to south-west on its way to Wellingtonmarker harbour. The Hutt Valley widens briefly into a 2500-m-wide floodplain between the Rimutakamarker and Akatarawa Ranges before constricting nine kilometres further downstream at the Taita Gorge, which separates Upper Hutt from its neighbour, Lower Huttmarker. The city's main urban area is on this plain. A smaller flood plain lies upstream, above the Kaitoke Gorge, but there is little development on it.

Upper Hutt City Council administers the city and the surrounding rural areas, parks and reserves. This area covers 540 km², the second-largest area covered by a city council in New Zealand, after Dunedinmarker. New Zealand local authorities with a large land area are usually termed districts, but Upper Hutt maintains its status as a city largely because of its high degree of urbanisation.

Upper Hutt extends to the top of the Rimutaka saddle to the north-east and into the Akatarawa Valley and rough hill-country of the Akatarawa ranges to the north and north-west, almost reaching the Kapiti Coast close to Paekakarikimarker.


The main urban area of the city has a population of including people who live in the sparsely-populated regions beyond the upper Hutt Valley plain.


The main suburbs of Upper Hutt, from north-east to south-west, include:
Te Maruamarker, Akatarawa, Rimutakamarker, Parkdale, Emerald Hill, Birchvillemarker, Timberlea, Brown Owl, Kaitoke, Māoribank, Ebdentown, Upper Hutt Central, Clouston Park, Mangaroa, Maymorn, Whitemans Valley, Tōtara Park, Kingsley Heights, Elderslea, Wallacevillemarker, Trenthammarker, Heretaungamarker, Silverstreammarker and Pinehaven.

Developments in the area include Mount Marua, Marua Downs, Waitoka Estate, and Riverstone Terraces. A development called The Lanes was proposed but never completed.


Upper Hutt is in an area originally known as Orongomai, and that of the river was Heretaunga (today the name of a suburb of Upper Hutt). The first residents of the area were Māori of the Ngai Tara iwi. Various other iwi controlled the area in the years before 1840, and by the time the first colonial settlers arrived the area was part of the Te Atiawa rohe. Orongomai Marae is to the south of the modern city centre.

Richard Barton, who settled at Trenthammarker in 1841 in the area now known as Barton's Bush, was the first European resident. Barton subsequently subdivided his land and set aside a large area that was turned into parkland. James Brown settled in the area that became the Upper Hutt town in 1848.

The railway line from Wellingtonmarker reached Upper Hutt on 1 February 1876. The line was extended to Kaitoke at the top end of the valley over the next two years, reaching there on 1 January 1878. The line continued over the Rimutaka Ranges to Featherstonmarker in the Wairarapa as a Fell Railway, opening on 12 October 1878.

Upper Hutt was originally part of Hutt County, which was constituted in 1877. The Town Board was proclaimed on 24 April 1908. Upper Hutt became a Borough on 26 February 1926 and a City on 2 May 1966.

The northern parts of Hutt County's Rimutaka Riding were included in the city on 1 April 1973. This expansion produced the second-largest land area of any New Zealand city. The area administered by the Heretaunga-Pinehaven District Community Council was added when the Hutt County Council was abolished on 1 November 1988. On 1 November 1989 the Heretaunga-Pinehaven District Community Council was abolished producing the city in its current form.

Towards the end of the 1980s significant travel delays were being experienced with road access to Upper Hutt. With central government reluctant to fund any road improvements in the area, Upper Hutt City Council commissioned the construction of a high-speed bypass that became known as the River Road. The road promptly ran at full capacity and, after several serious accidents that were a legacy of its origins, it was enlarged and re-engineered to cope with the growing traffic volume. As the name implies, River Road runs alongside the river from Taita Gorge in the south to Māoribank in the North.

Upper Hutt is in the bed of an ancient river flood plain and as such was prone to flooding. In the 1970s and 1980s, a stop bank was built alongside the eastern side of the river from northern Upper Hutt to the mouth of the Hutt Rivermarker in Lower Huttmarker to prevent further flooding.


Upper Hutt is on the Hutt Valley Railway Lines, with half-hourly daytime electric services operated by Tranz Metro, which reach Lower Huttmarker in around 20 minutes and Wellingtonmarker in around 45 minutes. Many commuters, however, still use their cars.

The railroad continues beyond Upper Hutt to Mastertonmarker, becoming the Wairarapa Line, but without the suburban electrification. Masterton is about an hour away by morning and afternoon diesel trains. There are services five times a day each way Monday to Thursday, six on Friday, and twice a day each way on Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays. A notable feature of this section of railway is the Rimutaka Tunnel, the second-longest railway tunnel in New Zealand, which replaced the Rimutaka Incline.

Rimutaka Incline

To assist with the 1 in 15 grade of the Rimutaka Incline on the Featherston side of the range, Fell engines that used a raised centre rail to haul trains up the steep grade were employed. The less steep 1 in 40 grades between Upper Hutt and the small settlement and shunting yard at Summit could be managed by ordinary steam locomotives. The only other rolling stock able to traverse the incline unaided were small bus-like Wairarapa railcars, colloquially known as "Tin Hares".

By the 1950s the Fell system had become too expensive to operate and was closed on 29 October 1955. To replace it, the Rimutaka Tunnel had been constructed, opening on 3 November 1955. In conjunction with the tunnel, the laying of a new route, new bridges and substantial realignment, and double-tracking of the rest of the line from Wellington as far as Trentham station had occurred by 26 June 1955.

The course of the incline is open to the public as part of the Rimutaka Rail Trail.

Sports and recreation

Walking and mountain-biking is popular along the Hutt Rivermarker and on the tracks in many parks, including Karapoti (focal point of the annual Karapoti Classic), Kaitoke, Cannons Point, Tunnel Gully and the Rimutaka Rail Trail. Popular team sports include Cricket, Netball, Rugby, Rugby league, Soccer, and Valley Gridiron American football.

Arts have traditionally struggled in Upper Hutt, with 'Expressions' art centre combating declining interest since opening. Homespun crafts and landscape painting are reliable drawcards however.

Upper Hutt is also home to the biggest junior football club in New Zealand. The club was formed when Tararua Sports Club Inc and Upper Hutt City Soccer merged to create one club. The club now carries both of the old clubs names. The club primarily plays its home games at Awakairangi but also plays at Harcourt Park and Trentham Memorial Park.

Popular recreation sites include:

Secondary schools

Sister-city relationships


External links

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