Wellington, New Zealand
PLEASE NOTE: I will double-back with photos over the next few days as satellite reception improves.
Wellington…the capital of New Zealand. Wellington is the southernmost national capital city in the world, with latitude of about 41-degrees south. It is more densely populated than most other settlements in New Zealand, due to the small amount of building space available between the harbor and the surrounding hills. Because of its location in the ‘roaring forties’ latitudes and its exposure to pervasive winds coming through Cook Straight, the city is known as “Windy Wellington.” We berthed directly alongside the new sports stadium (Westpac) where national rugby games are played – as large as any NFL complex might be in the U.S. Another bright, sunny day with temps in the 70’s. We left the ship shortly after 8:00am & hired a small van – very busy day with the ship not scheduled to depart until 11:00pm.
We started atop Mount Victoria –a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, then a coastal drive around the many bays. We took a cable car (the Kelburn) up to the Wellington Botanic Gardens and went through the Norwood Rose Gardens & Begonia House. We spent a couple hours going through the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, extremely interesting maritime museum, and also went through the government buildings & parliament – three structures with each reflecting the style of the period in which they were built. The downtown area is very modern & beautiful – most all sidewalks are hand-laid brick – dozens & dozens of sidewalk cafes with contemporary shopping. Many distinctive walking areas & parks around the waterfront – a great day, but tiring.
At 5:30, poolside, the ship fired-up the BBQ’s and put on a 3-hour spread of authentic New Zealand food & wine, featuring lamb of course. We joined a few friends and had a good time, but by 8:00 we were ready for bed. I was awakened at 10:45 when they started disassembling the gangway (directly below our cabin) for departure and have been up ever since – it’s now 4:00am – Cheryl’s still sleeping (as she should be) and we’re scheduled to arrive in Picton at 8:00.
Wellington’s not one of our favorites here in New Zealand. It’s still a very clean & safe city with beautiful landmarks, but once you get past the downtown & waterfront areas, the residential sections are very hilly, & meandrous, much like San Francisco. I think having spent so many years in Phoenix with the flat terrain, we’re somewhat partial to that type of topography. Wonderful folks & very pretty – just not near the top of our list. The other element here – the city sits atop several fault lines, so it’s very susceptible to earthquake activity, and they’ve had some big ones in recent years.