The highest court in the land

This tiny picture of the Ohakune District Court hearing centre is the only picture that Google offers.

One of my aspirations as a young advocate is to one day have the opportunity to make submissions in the highest court in the land.

By which I mean the court that has the greatest elevation above sea level.

According to a highly scientific free online website that lets you type in addresses and tells you the altitude of a point, I can confirm that the highest court in the land is the Ohakune District Court hearing centre.  Of course, it’s only a hearing centre which means it isn’t open all the time.  But no one said appearing in the highest court would be easy.  It’s like that old how do you get to Carnegie Hall joke: except for a lawyer it’s practice of a different kind.

My innovative new juridi-geographical hierarchy of courts heralds a new way of conceiving the relative status of our courts and definitely warrants a hefty grant from the Borrin Foundation.  As an initial proposal, I call on the Supreme Court to immediately begin hearing cases in Ohakune.  The slopes of Turoa and Whakapapa will make excellent locations for Supreme Court Judges to take skiing holidays with counsel after the hearings.

Notable findings of my initial survey conclude what we have known all along, like the fact the Court of Appeal is a higher court than the Supreme Court.  It also reveals surprising findings such as the fact that the Auckland District Court is the highest court in Auckland.  In this, I haven’t factored in the Court of Appeal hearing centre in Auckland, which is halfway up a tall office building and the subject of previous comment.

The results are below.  I haven’t done every court because I have some submissions I really need to finish…  I am quietly sceptical of some of the precise readings (Is the Supreme Court really 22 metres above sea level?  And does the Hutt Valley District Court have a lower altitude than central Wellington courts?) so don’t @ me to quibble about the  results of the ultra-precise methodology I have used!


(Partial) Hierarchy of the highest courts in the land

585 metres – Ohakune District Court hearing centre

440 metres – Taihape District Court

373 metres – Taupo District Court

324 metres – Queenstown District Court

186 metres – Kaikohe District Court

146 metres – Alexandra District Court

104 metres – Ashburton District Court

59 metres – Te Kuiti District Court

43 metres – Auckland District Court

39 metres – Auckland High Court

37 metres – Palmerston North High/District Court (this really doesn’t seem right?!)

36 metres – Manukau District Court

33 metres – Levin District Court

26 metres – Court of Appeal of New Zealand

25 metres – Tauranga High Court

24 metres – Tauranga District Court

22 metres – Supreme Court of New Zealand

22 metres – Kaitaia District Court

19 metres – Papakura District Court

18 metres – Chatham Islands District Court

11 metres – Hutt Valley District Court

8 metres – Opotiki District Court hearing centre

8 metres – Blenheim District Court

7 metres – Dunedin High/District Court

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