We arrive in the capital city of Wellington Sunday morning, a great way to end our first week. Everywhere you look on this drive to Wellington has a view, either mountains, ocean, bay, or farmland - it's all so beautiful and idyllic. The city view from atop the road into Wellington is filled with water views, hillsides and the skyscrapers. We have time before heading to the Te Papa Museum and Barb is eager to see the Botanical Gardens here, so we head in that direction!
Barb is in heaven, and we lose her somewhere around the gazebo, she's identifying plants for all of us, but it's hard to keep up, there's so much to see and enjoy. We could spend the entire day here but we have a lot of other activities to experience yet.
We arrive at the Te Papa Museum about 11am - so we only slip in an hour at the gardens, but it's a definite stop for some of us later in the day - Barb! Te Papa is FILLED with everything New Zealand from artifacts and geological material to Maori history and art, photography and maps. We explore some of the 800,000 artworks, taonga, photographs, collection objects, and botanical and zoological specimens from the Te Papa’s collections. And we learn about the different cultures that New Zealand has within it's borders. This is a wonderful tour through the museum and we spend 2 and half hours enjoying it, but we're getting hungry (and thirsty!) for lunch. Our lunch spot is nearby, the Karaka Cafe - which has Hangi meals - Hangi Pizza among them, and now that we know Hangi foods well so we are all over this and other Hangi menu items here. The wines are, of course, delicious, and there is so much to enjoy. It's another great lunch on our tour.
In the afternoon we settle into our hotel rooms at the Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay. A fantastic location with Bay views and within walking distance to many shops and cafes. We have our walks up Mount Victoria this afternoon, a few of us are staying behind, lured by the views, shopping and general interest in learning more about the area.
Mount Victoria... ah... another magnificent spot to view the surrounding area. Mount Victoria gives us views of the city, the harbor and ocean, and the entire region from a lovely altitude where we feel and smell the fresh salty air. We walk up Alexandra Road, to the walking tracks that lead up the hillside. It's about a 20 minute walk as we start on the Southern Walkway on Oriental Parade which is right by our hotel and then another 20 minutes to the summit of Mount Victoria. This is a really great way to work off the lunch, and spend a somewhat lazy Sunday afternoon. Legend has it that Wellington harbor, originally a land-locked lake, was home to two large and very active taniwha (sea monsters). One taniwha forged a passage to the open sea creating the entrance to the harbor. The second, named Whataitai, tried a different route, became stranded and died. It is believed that Tangi-te keo (Mt Victoria) was named after the soul of Whataitai.
Here is an article on Wellington from the Guardian Magazine, check it out for more details on this capital city located on the North Island.
Dinner is on our own tonight, many are pleased to have the time to gather with new friends or have alone time. We love this city and wish that we could spend a longer time here, but we all agree that we need to come back to see and experience more of this awesome city. And some of us - Barb - want to live here! For now it's sleepy time.
E Hoa Tangata Pai!