Nov 9, 2015
Neither of us slept well last night so we were both tired this morning; we got up about 8:30 am and went down to have breakfast. It had rained last night and the streets were wet and the clouds were down over the hills. We didn’t feel like doing much today so we walked over to the large national museum, known as “Te Papa”, and had a look around.
It’s a pretty big museum considering that Wellington isn’t a very big city. It has four floors which have a mixture of traditional museum displays and movie-like presentations. The second floor has dioramas of New Zealand animals and a room full of skeletons of marine mammals, including a pygmy blue whale skeleton hanging overhead. But their prize exhibit was a colossal squid—that’s its name, it’s not just a giant squid, it’s a Colossal Squid. It was caught trying to eat a fish off a long-line fishing boat. The event was caught on video because there were scientists on this vessel, monitoring what was being caught. The squid was huge!
Surprisingly we met Virginia and her husband at the museum; they were the couple who had gone to the Maori feast in Rotorua with us. They were going to be in Wellington for a few days before heading down to the South Island.
By the time we were finished with the museum it was lunch time, so we walked the short distance back to the hostel to eat. After lunch the weather was much improved and we figured out the various sites which would be interesting to visit, and headed out.
We started along the sunny seafront, which had a nice area to walk along and to sit around. Like many other ports it had formerly been an area of abandoned huts and polluted moorings, and it had been cleaned up for public access a few years ago. We bumped into Virginia and her husband again, but they were on the way to the botanical garden and we carried on towards the city centre.
The historic government building was open to the public, although nowadays it’s mostly the university’s law school and it only has a few rooms of historical displays. It’s built almost completely from wood, which means that it has survived earthquakes better than a stone building would. It’s still one of the world’s largest wooden buildings. The legislature was across the street but not being Kiwis we decided we didn’t need to see that. Instead we carried on up the hill to the cathedral and then to the old St Paul’s church.
After that we turned and headed back towards the hostel. On the way we walked up and down Cuba Street, which had become New Zealand’s first pedestrian mall in 1969, and looked into some of the shops which sold outdoor clothing. However we didn’t see much that interested us.
Back at the hostel we checked our e-mail and then went downstairs to make dinner (yummy leftover roast chicken). We were early enough that we had the kitchen to ourselves, but as we ate several vans full of school kids arrived. It’s going to be a noisy night…
Next: Cook Strait and Kaikoura