Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wellington Sightseeing

View of Wellington harbor from the top of Mount Victoria

Wellington: the capital of New Zealand, the home of Parliament and home to the country's most prominent art scene. As you've seen in previous entries, Te Papa Museum is located here, as well as a multitude of little night clubs where live bands play 7 days a week. There are several theaters where plays, operas and musicals are shown year round. And best of all, it's a walking city.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've gone on little trips with the help of Tim, a friend from work. He's taken me to the places that are not easily reached by foot. He's become my unofficial guide, showing me some cool places.

Below: a 360 degree look of Wellington from Mount Victoria

On the same afternoon, we drove out along the Miramar coast and stopped along the way to see William Massey's Romanesque monument. He was a Prime Minister of New Zealand once upon a time and one of the universities in Wellington is named after him.

Massey Monument

Last weekend Tim and I went out again for another day of sightseeing. It was fun! We first went to the War Memorial.

Below: Video of the War Memorial with commentary from Tim (sorry it's sideways, I forgot again!)

One of the many plaques inside the memorial; I thought it was beautiful

I love the carvings here

A statue commemorating all the people who helped save soldiers riding on a donkey in Gallipolli (I found the donkey thing kind of funny, but apparently that's the way it was done back then)

Entrance to the War Memorial

After the memorial, we headed off to Old St. Paul's church. It's really quite small and quaint.

Old St. Paul's

I love the inside...it's so organic and cozy with all the wooden beams. It reminded me of European architecture with the flying buttresses (hope I got that right!).

Inside Old St. Paul's

Tim had told me about St. Paul's cathedral, the new one. I figured it would be worth seeing how they modernized the above cathedral.

What an eyesore, eh? Just a big block of concrete painted in that awful salmon.

But, as we walked inside, there was a man playing the organ and it vibrated through the enormous space decorated a la Art Deco on the ceiling with more pastel. At the far end of the church there was an amazing mosaic called the dossal. I thought it was made with ceramic, but upon questioning the very kind and helpful pastor, I learned that it was made out of fabric pieces. I was entranced. It is beautiful. As I stood there, looking at it, the sun came out from behind clouds and illuminated the dossal. I felt a strange sense of peace and amazement. It was a very special moment. I stood there for about 5 minutes, watching the sunlight wax and wane upon this mosaic. Spirituality can be found in all places and it was strange for me to have found it in a church, having never been religious nor ever wanting to be. But why not, as well? If we can find it in nature, so can we in the things humans make regardless of the location.

The dossal

Across the street from St. Paul's cathedral is the Parliamentary buildings. The picture below is my favorite building because of the beauty of the stone they used.

Parliamentary Building

Close-up of the stone...gorgeous.

Below: video of the Parliamentary grounds

On the grounds, we found some Pohutukawa trees.

Below: Tim gives us a lesson on the flora of New Zealand

Pohutukawa in bloom; rare at this time of year. They usually bloom in December, which is why they are often referred to as the Christmas tree here in New Zealand.

After the Parliament, we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens, which is one of Wellington's crowning jewels. To be honest, I didn't understand the hype. It's not so much a cultivated garden as a kind of park where there are many native plants and trees scattered upon a mountain overlooking Wellington. It's a great place to go to for a picnic or a peaceful walk, but not really that special otherwise. There is an observatory and a planetarium there but they were closed when we went. There is also a rose garden where a cafe is located, but since it's now winter, most of the roses were not in bloom and we arrived too late to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. Everything closes early in New Zealand in winter. The cafe closed at 4:00p.m.

But we did discover a cool and strange plant. Tim didn't know what it was either.

Strange bulbous flower

Strange bulbous flower on the plant. The color, that purple (though it looks blue in this picture) reminded me of Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Kinda cool, really.

Random shot of a neighborhood seen from behind the Planetarium. I love that row of houses, each one a different color. Like smiling jack-o-lanterns.

Gorgeous sunset with sculpture by English sculptor Henry Moore

Me and sculpture; as you walked around it, it took on different shapes. Quite interesting.

Below: a silent film of Kiwi clouds. Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, means Land of the Long White Cloud. I've always loved clouds, their ability to transform and show you images beyond our expectations. I've never been in a country where the clouds move as fast as they do in New Zealand, I guess because of the thinness of New Zealand, wind can cross the island very quickly and the clouds respond accordingly. Below, the clouds are moving at regular speed, but the colors are so magnificent that I wanted to share them with you. Perhaps one of you could write a Haiku in honor of this Kiwi dusk.


Anonymous said...

What a great entry! I enjoyed all the beautiful pix...and it was neat to have so many video entries. And I know this is silly but it was cool too see Tim. LOVE the accent..lol...sure he gets that a lot.
I know how hard it is to find a good "traveling" buddy...cool that you two seemed to enjoy doing that together.
Keep um coming! It's the closest I get to adventure these days.

Anonymous said...

Cool Entry...I liked it. Ka mihi ki te kapua. Tim sounds like a cool dude too;)He aha mo te tinana??

L said...

Hey thanks ladies. I'm happy that you liked this one. Wasn't sure how it would be received. Wellington, all in all, is a pretty cool place.

I am looking forward to a little wilderness though. And that will be sooner than later! Can't wait!