This was our first full day on the North Island. It was a sunny Sunday.
Joe had read that there is a commuter train in Wellington, so we found a motel in a suburb community a bit north of Wellington called Hutt, where there is easy access to the train. However, we decided that as it was Sunday, the traffic shouldn't be too bad and we would bravely navigate on the "wrong" side of the road into one of New Zealand's major centres. We did this successfully and found a place to park for the day.
Wellington ... is the capital of New Zealand, the country's second largest urban area and the most populous national capital in Oceania. It is in the Wellington region at the southern tip of the North Island, near the geographical centre of the country. ...
The urban area of Wellington stretches across the city council areas of Porirua, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and Wellington. As of 2007, the four cities had a estimated total population of 382,700 and the Wellington Urban Area contained 99% of that population. The remaining areas are largely mountainous and sparsely farmed or parkland and are outside the urban area boundary.
Our first focus of exploration was Lambton Harbour's harbour front - right downtown. This part of the harbour front is built on reclaimed land. The harbour front is really interesting - lots of public art and interesting design. I'm not sure that the pix do it justice - but I hope they give you a sense of the place. As I have mentioned a number of times in previous entries, while it looks lovely - sunny and puffy white clouds - once again I will mention that it was very windy here when out in the open. Apparently Wellington is known for its wind.
It is also known as "Wellywood" - particularly since the Lord of the Rings film (please - hurry and throw the !@#$% ring in the fire so we can all go home!!!) trilogy. We were told that tourism has increased something like 700% because of those movies and that something like three quarters of the population of the country was either involved or knew someone who was involved, in some aspect of the making of those three movies.
So - let's begin, shall we?
The promenade (Craig in the blue shirt).
Boat Shed (at right).
Majestic Centre - Craig's favorite Wellington building because of its "crown."
Wellington Free Ambulance Building.
Art on the City-to-Sea Bridge.
The eye-catching city to sea bridge is, as the name suggests, the link between the heart of the city and the nearby waterfront. Architecturally designed, the construction reflects the city's heritage and historic links with the sea. New and intriguing vistas await discovery on each return visit and from the many different vantage points afforded by the design of the bridge. Particularly stunning are the evening reflections, of the large copper globe above the square, in the windows of the council buildings. Note also the distinctive Nikau palms adorning the exterior of the public library.
This site shows some of Wellington's interesting public art and architecture, including the City-to-Sea Bridge.
City-to-Sea Bridge begins to merge with the Civic Square. This is the Michael Fowler Centre, a concert hall.
Click here to see a map of the Civic Square.
Even the paving stones are part of the art - yes, I know - Michael Fowler Centre again, but with more of the paving stones - take a look again at some of the other pix for the patterns on the ground.
Town Hall Auditorium.
Library. I like this pix - see the reflection in the windows?
New Zealand Christmas trees in the foreground, metal palm trees further back.
Te Papa Museum. This was Craig's favorite NZ museum - at least of the ones he saw (in case you haven't figured it out by now, he's quite a museum aficionado).
Te Papa exterior from across the promenade - note the Circa Theatre to the right.
Closer up - this is the harbour front side - it looks quite different from the main front street.
Taken in the museum in reference to our albatross encounter back near Dunedin - this is to show the relative size of these very large birds!
About 2:30 we got on a tour bus for a tour of greater Wellington. The following pix are from that tour.
The centre left (near the water) is where we were walking earlier - Lambton Harbour. (From Mount Victoria.)
From Mount Victoria
From Mount Victoria - the little triangle on the right is the Byrd Memorial.
More from Mount Victoria.
There are penguins everywhere in this country! We asked about the mortality rate as this sign was on a fairly busy road. Apparently the traffic falls off quite significantly in the evening and at that time of day it is mostly locals driving. They know about the birds and watch for them, so happily there are not too many fatalities. The thing about the little blue penquins is that they leave their little nests early to go fishing and come back late, so they manage to avoid the peak traffic times.
This house was covered in art featuring paua shells. These shells are sort of a NZ cultural thing - they are used to make jewelery, which of course is one of the "local" art things available everywhere for tourists to purchase.
The Parliamentary Library (I would imagine that it usually stands up a bit straighter - must have taken the day off - it was a Sunday after all !!) - :)
The Parliamentary Library is a working library that provides research services for members of Parliament and parliamentary staff. There is also a public reading room for customers of the Library’s International Documents Service and the Parliamentary Information Service.
This Edwardian neo-classical building was designed by architects, John Campbell and Claude Paton, to replace the previous building that was destroyed by fire in 1907.
The Beehive - Executive Wing
The ‘Beehive’ is the popular name for the Executive Wing of the parliamentary complex because of the building’s shape. This is where the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers have offices, and where the Cabinet meets.
Cable car climbing to the top of the Botanic Garden.
Once again a long, interesting day. We eventually found our car and navigated our way back to the motel. The next day we did a more detailed tour of a few of the main "must see" Wellington spots.
Some more websites of interest - in case you haven't had enough! :)