The Founding of New WellingtonThe HMNZSS Tasman departed Earth on April 17th 2147. Making use of a slingshot technology which allowed the ship to accelerate to a high fraction of light speed its destination was a star system some 53,600 light years away, which was known to contain a planet thought to have a high chance of being Earth-like. Cruising at an average velocity of 99.99995% of light speed the ship lost contact with Earth after a few hours of perceived onboard time, and the crew did not manage to regain contact during the 53 year flight time. When the ship did arrive, and the colonists were defrosted, the planet that they arrived at was not quite as they expected.
The New Wellington colony was established in the year 2200 by the reckoning of the colonists on a planet which was already very suitable for human habitation ... and in fact was already home to a population of around 50,000 humans living as hunter gatherers in its equatorial zone. Evidence suggested that their ancestors had arrived on the planet around two thousand years earlier and had begun a terraforming operation before something had caused their colony to collapse. A few tantalising hints buried in their language (which appeared to be descended from Mandarin) and myths suggested their civilisation may have been quite large and highly advanced, but at least this branch colony had not been for quite some time.
The Wellingtonians spread out and established their own colony, and fought a number of very one-sided wars with the "natives". By 2270 they had a working limited space infrastructure and had begun in-system mining ... which is how they came across the abandoned wreck of an ancient starship, still kept nearly intact by the vacuum of space, even after many centuries. It's data banks were long destroyed by solar radiation, and it would clearly never fly again, but the principles of its systems could be studied, and gave the colonists a huge leg-up in technology, including the essential principles of Faster Than Light travel.
(A native faction tried to make a claim on the ship on the grounds of it having belonged to their ancestors. The Wellingtonian courts found no merit in such a claim and the few native rebellions this spawned were quickly put down)
Expansion into Space
In 2291 the Wellingtonians were ready to test their own FTL drive, and by 2300 they had already begun exploring neighbouring systems.
In 2304 the Wellingtonians made first contact with another human colony: the people of the Vyasa system were a thriving interplanetary civilisation based on the terraformed moons of an oxygen/nitrogen gas giant which they called Meru. Their local date was 2532, and the mutual benefit which could be gained from an alliance between them and New Wellington was clear to both parties: two hundred years worth of technological development in exchange for the reverse engineered FTL drives.
By 2357 New Wellington Date (2585 Vyasan Date) the community of intercommunicating human colonies had grown to twelve systems, with local dates ranging from 2200 to 2760 (not counting the Wellingtonian Natives, of course), and levels of technological advancement to match. The newly growing community decided to come together to form a more permanent alliance, and so they founded the Humanian League, with the capital placed on New Wellington.
At that point no evidence had been found of intelligent alien life, nor of the original FTL civilisation from which the Wellingtonian Natives had sprung ... still Humanian exploration has been haphazard and there are still many systems left unexplored even within the reach of their drives. As they push closer to Earth they push further into the future and increase their chances of meeting other starfaring peoples.
In 2375 (NWD) the first Humanian Long Range Exploration Craft reached the Sol System itself. The expedition was achieved via a series of very long ranged jumps which would not be feasible for use in normal exploration, but were considered viable for an expedition to a known target.
There was some hope that the Earth might be home to a truly advanced civilisation. Many colonies had great hopes for the "Cradle of Humanity", but those hopes were dashed when the Star Forces reported that Earth was apparently gripped in another Ice Age. Human descended beings lived throughout the equatorial zone, most in hunter gatherer groups, a few in small cities using neolithic technology. All show signs of significant genetic engineering of their ancestors, to the extent that several distinct humanoid species are now present on Earth, with only limited inter-fertility between them.
Mars and Europa also showed signs of ancient terraforming, using technologies far beyond those of the Humanian League, but both had failed long ago, with Europa now uninhabitabel, and Mars supporting only a handful of small settlements clinging to the edges of the ancient canal network. A number of ancient asteroid habitats retained enough cohesion that future archaeological expeditions might well find great interest in their contents, but the initial explorers could do little more than catalogue and move on.