Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A little bit of Wellington

North Island to Wellington

Wellington – the capital of New Zealand is built around a sheltered bay and demonstrates all of the benefits of a town with an outside life for most of the year.

Wellington Harbourside

Sheltered bays are close to the city

Coastal Bay

Wellington across sound

and the rich live in houses with views over the sea which cannot be valued highly enough.

South Island First View

In the distance is a first view of South Island, some three hours sailing by a circuitous route. If you look hard at the picture, you can just make out some mountains on the horizon.

Wikitia Floating Crane

Sam – here is a picture of a floating crane we saw in the harbour in Wellington.

Wellington has its share of graceful buildings including

Wellington Wooden Building 

the largest wooden structure in New Zealand, a rather grand four storey building

Wellington Beehive

the Beehive – aka Parliament Building

Wellington House  

The usual array of rather nice Victorian houses, including

Katherine Mansfield's House

one which used to be lived in by the author Katherine Mansfield and is now set up as a museum about her. The inside of the house is also a rather nice example of how a house would have looked in the 1900’s with most of the rooms laid out and furnished in an appropriate style.

Mansfield Bedroom

A child’s bedroom

Mansfield Kitchen 2 Mansfield Scullery
Kitchen Scullery
Mansfield Dining Room Mansfield Kitchen
Dining Room Scullery

There is a very nice drive around the coast line starting on one side of Wellington and ending on the other. As you drive around, you pass through one small village settlement after another, originally isolated villages, now commuter suburbs or holiday homes for Wellington.

Houses on the Bay

Those with money have built their houses on the hillside and must have spectacular views.

Pier Sheds

Along the road side are houses and also remains of the past - here some boathouses showing all the signs being built during the Victorian era,

Penguins Crossing 

here a sign related to an unusual road hazard – apparently these penguins live under houses around the bay.

Pat at rest

a tourist relaxing in the sun

The only other visit during our day there which I shall describe is an absolute gem – the National Museum “Te Papa Tongarewa” which translated from Maori means “The Container of Treasures”. This museum contains items from across New Zealand and covers its history past and present and all aspects of its flora and fauna. Its content in detail can be explored through its web site – click here to see it.

Built some 13 years ago, it was for us a particularly nice example of perhaps of how a museum should be run in order not to be carry some of the negative views that the word “museum” can sometimes bring.

As soon as you walk through the front door, you are greeted by a member of staff and told what events are taking part that day and asked if you need any help. If you stop to breathe anywhere in the museum and look a bit lost, you are instantly pounced on and offered assistance. It is not a quiet place, throughout the museum

Puppet Te Papa Pat

a giant animatronic puppet

you can hear children enjoying themselves and virtually everything is hands on.

We had our own personal tour from one of the staff – Dennis who spent over an hour taking just the two of us

Pat Dennis Maori Gateway      

around the museum, showing us not only how it was organised but also some of the key treasures. As he was leaving us, he then suggested certain exhibits we might want to visit immediately including:

Giant Squid

the largest squid on display in the world (not a good photograph but you try taking a picture of a giant squid many metres long, the tentacles are at the bottom)

Large Amenoite

and an enormous ammonite plus Maori treasures (including some unique musical instruments) and many exhibits dating from the colonial era.

Te Papa Canoe

The interior design is very open – this is a view down the atrium also showing a Maori canoe used for ferrying goods. One could spend hours at the museum – we had only half a day.

Off to South Island tomorrow.

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