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Much of the central city is built on reclaimed land that was raised up after a major earthquake in 1855. More land has been reclaimed since then. The shoreline as it was in 1840 is marked by plaques in the footpaths on Lambton Quay (hence the street name). There are several Quays which are now nowhere near the harbour. Also note that unusually, the large bay in Wellington is called 'Port Nicholson' and the smaller bay surrounded by the city is called 'Wellington' or 'Lambton Harbour'.
''Earthquakes'' have played a major part in forming the whole Wellington region - the exposed face of the Wellington fault being prominent as the line of hills adjacent to the harbour between Thorndon and Petone. There are several major earthquake faults in the region, some of which slip a metre or more in one jump every few centuries. Building regulations have meant that most of the older city buildings have been either demolished or strengthened in the last 20 years or so. Small and moderate earthquakes occasionally rock Wellington; so if the earth seems to move for you, it may not be just your imagination: stay indoors unless a "warden" or similar authority advises evacuation, and take shelter against potentially falling objects wherever you are. Afterwards, you can check the epicentre of latest quake with