In May 2008, I went travelling on my own for the first time and was out of England for a month. Along the way I took in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand before coming home. I kept a journal of my time on the road, so here’s a day by day account of my trials and tribulations that has the undeserved title of Dave’s Odyssey.
Day 11 – Wellington
I’d forgotten what it was like to wake up at 7.30 a.m. but compared to previous days it was bliss. After breakfast Cameron took us on a tour of the city. Wellington is on a much grander scale than anything on the south island is and situated by the coast there were some impressive sights. The streets promised to be hectic tonight as graduates in caps and gowns dominated the city as we drove through. It was a painful reminder that my university days had ended five years before!
The tour led us to the top of Mt. Victoria, which was more like a steep hill than what I’d classify as a mountain, but what do I know? Mt. Victoria gave us a fantastic view of the city and was worth a few photos. I got particularly lucky with one shot of the sea as the sun was in my eyes. Thankfully, it turned out to be one of my better pictures from this tour.
It soon became apparent that Cameron was fairly laid back. He didn’t really designate a time for us to return to the coach so most of the group took a tad too long. Cameron took everything in his stride particularly on our return into the city when some seemingly uneducated builders took ages to move their van and let us through.
Back in the city we stopped off at three notable buildings all conveniently situated next to one another – Parliament House also known as the Beehive and named for obvious reasons, the Old Parliament House and finally Parliament Library. We were given ample time to wander the park in front of the trio of parliamentary buildings. I took the opportunity to wander over to a nearby war memorial; I seem to have a morbid curiosity about sombre tourist attractions. I also had a chat with Cameron back at the coach about the Parliament buildings.
Afterwards we headed for Old St. Pauls church erected in the nineteenth century and made almost entirely of wood. The interior was pretty impressive with the usual stain-glass windows and altar. It was also something of a museum offering enlightening history on New Zealand during WWII and the precarious position it was in as the Japanese wreaked havoc throughout the Pacific.
Our final stop was once again overlooking Wellington. A cable car service ran tourists and locals from the city to the Botanic Gardens. After stopping off at a café, the majority of the group chose to visit the Gardens and take the cable car back into the city. I was keen to see the Te Papa Museum so took the coach back to the hotel with Cameron and a small group.
From there I took in the sights of Wellington. I did some shopping for the first time on this tour. I’m not here for the shops but had to do some obligatory souvenir buying for the family. I couldn’t go home without doing so.
I worked my way to Te Papa Museum, had a late lunch at the café before exploring. The museum was six floors in total and I was there for the remainder of the day! The early floors were your typical museum stuff delving deep into New Zealand’s history. I was surprised to find that compared to most lands New Zealand hasn’t been settled very long.
The top two floors were not really my things but I found myself surprisingly engrossed. Two exhibitions of various artists throughout the ages were on show. As usual I found the majority mind-boggling but one artist – Albrecht Durer – won my approval. His pieces were detailed and captured the mood of his time, which I think was sixteenth century with religious/mythical themed scenes. They were so good I wouldn’t be against owning one but my budget doesn’t extend to buying works of art.
It was early evening when I finally left the museum. I took the scenic route along the harbour and back to the hotel. It’s an earlier start tomorrow as we say farewell to Wellington and head for the Maori centre of Rotorua. The journey there includes volcanoes of all things so it should be a swell trip. I suspect Cameron won’t be as laid back tomorrow.
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