Wellington, New Zealand
Today we have had a change from driving and walked and walked round Wellington. It’s been nice to have tired legs rather than a sore bum! The weather isn’t as kind as yesterday and it’s much cloudier, though the sun has put in the odd appearance. At leased the rain has held off, which is nice for a walking day.
We started out by heading up to Lambton Quay to the bottom of the cable car terminal. $3 each for a ticket, which is a bargain considering how high it climbs. The cars look a bit old-fashioned, but are actually fairly new, built by the Swiss in the 1980’s. The cable car route itself has been in operation since the late 19th century, so it’s pretty venerable. The 10 minute ride takes us well above the city to the Carter Observatory and the Cable Car Museum – we wander round the Museum (free) which is actually very interesting and has both a very, very early cable car and one retired more recently.
The top of the hill is also the start of the Wellington Botanic Gardens, so we work our way down through the gardens over the course of the morning. The vexed subject of labelling rears it’s head again, with the result that a lot of plants appear to be called “I don’t know that one” or “I haven’t a clue”. I personally can’t tell you much about the gardens, except it’s full of trees and plants and glasshouses and sculpture. It is however planted on a very steep slope, so it makes my excuses with my own sloping garden look lame. It’s a good long walk down before we reach the cafe at the bottom, but the tea and bun is welcome.
From there we continue downwards on the ‘City to Sea’ walk which winds through the old Wellington cemetery. Because they blasted a motorway right through it in the 1960’s, no-one is buried there now. The bodies were all moved and the monuments and gravestones re-sited along this walk. As we reach the city proper we pass ‘The Beehive’, which is what everyone calls the parliament building. We reach ‘Te Papa’, or ‘The National Museum’ for a late lunch and, yippee, it’s free again. The museum itself is massive – something like 4 football pitches of exhibition space – and there’s no chance we can do it justice in an afternoon, but we still see some neat stuff. There’s a hall dedicated to geology and tectonics, where we experience an earthquake aftershock from inside a house. There’s a whole exhibition dedicated to a Colossal Squid that was fished from the Antarctic Ocean a few years ago and the first to be scientifically examined. The quarter-ton squid itself is the centrepiece in all it’s embalmed glory, and frankly it’s all very icky. Finally, outside there is an entire forest planted, with walkways through the trees and plants and even a series of limestone caves underneath.
Anyway, have to close this now as we have to pack everything away again ready to throw them in the car in the the morning – the ferry sails at 8.30am and we have to report an hour in advance!