This was my last day after nearly three weeks in New Zealand. It was such a shame. Despite it being the longest holiday I’d been on and the longest time I’d been outside Australia, I could easily have kept travelling. Not once did I miss home. I’d loved every place apart from one although I’m sure if I’d had time to explore the city I would have liked it more. The best way for me to get to know a city is to get out and walk as much as possible. I wasn’t able to do that in that place so I won’t name it.
view from the balcony of our apartment in the middle of the city
Our flight home wasn’t until the afternoon so we had time in the morning to drive to the top of Mt Victoria on the city’s outskirts.
The Basin Reserve – used as a cricket ground for domestic and international games.
The house on the top of the mountain looks like it is sitting precariously and could fall at any moment.
Te Papa is an amazing museum. One of my favourite exhibitions was one of their permanent ones, Awesome Forces. It details New Zealand’s geological history including what causes earthquakes.
They even have a shaking house which simulates an earthquake although I didn’t want to go in there because I’d felt too many earthquakes by that stage. They also describe how technology has allowed them to measure earthquakes. They use the Richter scale to measure the magnitude of an earthquake and the Mercalli scale to measure the intensity. While I was in Christchurch I’d heard of the Mercalli scale but didn’t what what it was. It was good to learn this at the museum. For many people the Mercalli scale is a truer indication of an earthquake.
A video also shows how New Zealand split from Gondwanaland (which Australia was also part of) 85 million years ago.
Traditional maori dress
One of the special exhibitions at the time was called Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion. I paid to go in and see it while Mum & Dad had a cuppa and something to eat. The dresses were fascinating and shows how wedding fashion changes from when the world is having good times to when war rationing meant women had to save coupons to buy their dresses. This was the time that a lot of materials were repurposed into wedding dresses.
Some of the designers featured included John Galliano, Vera Wang and Vivienne Westwood who designed Dita Von Teese’s dress in 2005.
Unfortuanately we didn’t get to see as much of the museum as we wanted. It is recommended that visitors spend a whole day there and I could see why but we just didn’t have the time. When I go back to Wellington I will definitely put aside a whole day to spend there.
We were really tired by this stage so we decided to catch a taxi back to our hotel. The driver was really friendly and chatted about many things while giving us a bit of a cook’s tour of the city. We knew he wasn’t taking us out of the way deliberately. The number of one-way streets came into play. It was good to see some of the areas we hadn’t had time to walk around.
After a bit of a rest we walked over to New Lambton Quay to the Royal Hotel for dinner. We had walked past it earlier in the day and decided we wanted to eat there. It had the feel of an old English pub.
After arriving back at the cable car station we began a walk around town. We wanted to see some of the famous buildings such as the Beehive (above). The Beehive is the building where the Prime Minister and other government ministers have their offices. The architecture is very distinctive which is something I love.
The Beehive and Parliament House.
Next to those two buildings is the Parliamentary Library. It’s a beautiful old colonial building.
By this time the weather was becoming very uncomfortable. It got windier and colder. In fact on the news that night they said it had been one of the windiest days they had had for a while. It was all part of the experience though. I can now say that I know how windy it can be in windy Wellington.
We walked a few streets to see Old St Paul’s Cathedral. It was built in the 19th century from local timbers and is a great example of NZ buildings from that time. It looks quite simple from the outside but I’m told it’s magnificent inside. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in because there was a funeral taking place.
By this time we were getting hungry so we walked back into the main part of the CBD, past the Archives New Zealand building. We noticed they had a cafe so decided to eat there. We then decided we’d better go to Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand) which was our destination for the afternoon and on the other side of the CBD. We couldn’t work out how to get their on public transport so decided to do what we love: walk. We took the waterfront route along the harbour, passing some lovely and some unusual buildings.
We could finally see our destination: Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand)
Once we disembarked from the Kaitaki we drove to the centre of town to our apartment hotel. Wellington has quite a few one way streets which are always disconcerting to out-of-towners not matter what city you visit. We drove right past our hotel but found it was on the other side of the road so thought we could do a u-turn. It wasn’t that simple though because of the one way streets. We ended up on a road that lead to the freeway out of town. Not a good option because we didn’t know where we would end up. Auckland probably. We eventually found a way of driving past our hotel on the right side of the road. Parking outside, we went to check in only to find out that we should have paid the extra $20 per night to park our car in the underground carpark. We could safely (ie legally) park our car outside overnight because the restrictions ended in the morning but had to move it the next morning. However Mum went out early to put more money in the meter which gave us a few hours parking. Soon after we found out there was a spare space in the carpark so moved the car in there. We wouldn’t need to use the car while we were there.
After breakfast we walked to the cable car station, which strangely, is in the middle of a shopping arcade. I would have walked past if Mum hadn’t told me it was there. It’s only a short ride up to the Kelburn Lookout and Botanic Gardens with a few stops in between. Once up there you see some iconic views of Wellington. I took a photo similar to others I have seen in many magazines and tourist brochures. The scenery is stunning.
Cruising the Marlborough Sounds then the Cook Strait from Picton to Wellington on the North Island was one of the things I was most looking forward to on my trip. I’d heard it was a spectacular journey. It takes around four hours and we were very lucky to have a smooth sailing.
Once we parked the car on the car transport deck we walked upstairs to the deck of the Kaitaki, the largest ship in the fleet. We had paid extra to be able to sit in the Kaitaki Plus lounge where we had free internet access and a light lunch. It was very quiet and comfortable compared to the general area where most passengers sat.