Days 227-228 Monday-Tuesday December 3-4, 2007 – Wellington, New Zealand
On Monday, we didn’t have much on our itinerary to do other than drive south to Wellington. As usual, we got out of the campground and headed over to the local I-site to book accommodation for the night. After a bit of discussion, we opted to stay in a holiday park about 20 minutes outside of Wellington. This would give us a chance to take it easy without having to deal with all of the hustle and bustle of the city.
We arrived at the holiday park in Lower Hutt at around 2pm and spent most of the day bumming around. This park had a TV room with satellite TV so we took advantage of this as it was the first time we had watched satellite TV in over a month. While the holiday park was nice, we wanted to spend Tuesday night in the city, so on Tuesday morning we headed to the I-site in Lower Hutt and they helped us book into a hostel in downtown Wellington. We figured with only one day to see the city, staying close by would be helpful.
After booking the hotel, we headed over and parked our car in their lot and proceeded to walk the five minutes into the city. Our first stop of the day was Te Papa (”Our Land” in Maori), New Zealand’s National Museum. Approaching the building we were impressed with its architecture. This museum is a symbol of the country and you can see just how much thought and effort they put into making the building look nice.
The inside of Te Papa is just as nice as the outside. The museum has different exhibits ranging from the history of both the Anglican and Maori peoples as well as extensive exhibits on New Zealand’s varying wildlife. Our favorite part had to be a re-creation of New Zealand’s bush that they have set up behind the museum. Right on the harbor several different types of New Zealand’s bush have been created, including a couple of educational glow worm caves.
The museum ended up containing us for around two hours before we decided to head over to the Wellington Cable Car. On the way towards the cable car we passed the civic center and the city library. The original Wellington Cable Car opened in 1902 and was a huge success as it connected the upper reaches of the area to the busy city below. Unfortunately in 1978 safety concerns forced the city council to shut down the original cars and remodel them into a modern funicular type vehicle.
We arrived at the building which is hidden from the street behind shops and bought our tickets. The ride to the top took three and a half minutes and upon arrival we visited the cable car museum where the original cars were on display along with some useful information about the system. The museum is housed in the former cable car winding house that used to run the cables for the original system.
After leaving the museum, we set out to explore the adjacent Botanical Gardens. The gardens area looked to be very large so we only explored a bit of it. Shawn Reece was happy to see a playground and made us stop a while so that he could play. After leaving the playground, we started on a series of unmarked paths that resulted in us being lost for almost an hour, but we eventually made it back to the cable car and took the ride back down to the city.
Following the cable car ride we only had one more thing left on the agenda for Wellington. Since Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, we wanted to head over to the Parliament and government buildings to see what they looked like. On the walk over from the cable car to the Parliament Building we saw the old government building which was built in the 1800’s and is one of the largest wooden structures in the world.
The government center took me back a little as we were allowed to walk right up to the buildings. In Washington DC, the whole capital building is fenced off very far away and it is hell to get in. The three buildings in the New Zealand compound are the Beehive administrative building, the Parliament building and National Library. The three buildings are certainly unique to each other, but somehow fit well in the same space.
After leaving the Parliament area, we were pretty much done for the day so we started our long way back through the city towards the hostel. Wellington has a unique energy to it that is very satisfying. Tomorrow we are taking the ferry from the north island to the south island where we will spend eighteen days before flying to Australia on Christmas day. While Wellington really is a neat city, nothing beats getting out into the countryside, especially in a country as beautiful as New Zealand.
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The Coomer Family