We got into Wellington late on Saturday night, checked into our hotel and had some Cajun for dinner. Wellington is not only the capital of New Zealand, it's also a huge university town, and it seemed we'd shown up during graduation. Flocks of drunk, singing graduates roamed the streets wearing all white, and it really took us back to our days at UF. Oh, Gainesville, how we miss our time with you! The more college kids we saw, though, the older we felt. Oh well, we could still enjoy the variety and energy a big university town provides.
|This one's for Katie and Nick!|
It wasn't a very far walk from our hotel, so with rain jackets zipped tight, we headed out toward the museum.
We took the route along the waterfront to the museum, stopping a few times to educate ourselves on all the help New Zealand received from other nations of the world during wartimes. This plaque thanks the US Marine Corps, who landed at this spot on the quay in 1942 to lend a hand on the Pacific front.
How can you walk past some Hop-Scotch action and NOT participate? To ignore it would have been disrespectful, sideways rain or not!
We found this quotation especially interesting. If you can't read it, it says, "IT'S TRUE YOU CAN'T LIVE HERE BY CHANCE, YOU HAVE TO DO AND BE, NOT SIMPLY WATCH OR EVEN DESCRIBE. THIS IS THE CITY OF ACTION, THE WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF THE VERB - "
I like it. Shouldn't we all live this way?
To the right is a Maori carving, a prelude to the traveling exhibit of the Maori history, Standing Strong. This was the exhibit we wanted to see most, and took our time wandering through the space. No pictures allowed - sorry. There were artifacts from Maori life from the boats they built, to the pottery they used to cook their food. There were photographs detailing the reach of bloodlines, and one family photo had everyone smiling who stopped to look, the people ranging from infant to great grandfather, and all of these people had come from one of the culture's most significant leaders. Other photo displays focused on the art of body carving, much the same as modern tattooing, but with a different significance. A Maori person wore their identity on their face, the carved and dyed grooves identifying things like their tribe, their parents' names, and their rank within the tribe. It was really beautiful and I found myself actually pondering facial tattoos.
Another of the larger exhibits was the marine life exhibit, where visitors could look at several different sea animals preserved. The giant squid pictured here is the world's largest captured of its kind, and its body has toured the world, wowing scientists and civilians, alike. It was enormous, its skin peeling in places. I know these types of discoveries are great and everything, but I wish we didn't have to end their lives simply because they're so amazing. It made us a little sad to see this creature on display, so we didn't spend too much time here.
Now this one deserved a photo op! This creepy, giant robotic baby in a cage was a part of a kids' exhibit that invited children to actively participate in ... I don't actually remember, but the little boy in the picture could turn a crank that made the creepy baby move and cry.
After the museum it looked like the sun was trying to come out, so we took the opportunity to see the city from above. We hopped on the tram and rode up the the botanical gardens that rest atop a hill that overlooks Wellington.
From the top of the line.
Pretty, pretty Wellington.
Me, in a tree.
Some of the paths winding through the gardens
How cute is this guy?
I loved the intricacies of this tree's branches.
Ah ha! The inspiration for the Coru symbol, which stands for new beginnings.
Time to go. Here comes our ride.
After spending some time wandering around the gardens we walked back to the waterfront to see what it looked like when it wasn't pouring rain.
"MY QUIET MORNING HILL
STANDS LIKE AN ALTAR DRAWN
WHEREON HUSHED HANDS SHALL LAY
THE SHINING PYX OF DAWN
WITH PENITENCE AND STIR,
AND DROWSY FLURRY BY,
THE WIND, A SHAMEFACED SERVING-BOY,
COMES RUNNING UP THE SKY."
Three bananas and an apple. And part of a woman, too!
The day-after results of late night partying and celebration. Soap in the fountain - fun for everyone!
The area of town where the art museums are. Sadly, we ran out of time to visit the inside, but loved the contemporary courtyard.
The Coru again. I love that these are around the city.
It happened by chance that we were in town during the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and there was a show that night that had yet to be sold out. Still fighting off the tears from Heidi's passing, it seemed the perfect way to spend the night. We bought tickets to the stand-up show of Wil Anderson at the Opera House, and I'm so glad we did. I certainly needed a laugh, and Wil's style of humor had me laughing from the start. It helped that his opening jokes were about his time spent living in LA in the States, commenting on the cultural differences between Americans, Kiwis, Aussies, and Brits. Aren't the funniest jokes usually true?
The Opera House was lavish and beautiful, so I made sure to snap a few pictures before the lights went down.
Even though we only bought our tickets a couple of hours before the show, we had pretty decent seats. Wil Anderson is my hero for making me laugh when I really needed it. If you come across this Aussie comedian, go see him. He'll be worth the ticket and the time for sure.
Wil's show was a nice close to our short time in Wellington. If we ever get to go back to New Zealand, this is a city we'll return to, no doubt. The atmosphere and energy of the city, itself, was a familiar and comforting thing, and there was plenty we would have liked to fit in.
Next time, Wellington.