Wellington, the windy city, Kia Ora! This last weekend I and most of the folks at Atawhai went on a two-day trip to New Zealand’s capital city. The school sponsored part of the trip was a day-trip that included a museum trip, shopping stop, view point, the Weta cave, fish ‘n chips at a war memorial, and tour and show at an observatory. And the unplanned part of the trip…well!
Seven of us skipped our afternoon classes to catch the 2:35 bus to Wellington. Our friend Tim has lived in Wellington for some time now, and knows the city. Wellington had Friday evening Rugby game (Hurricanes v.s. The Chiefs) that we saw after finding a delicious Chinese restaurant. The Chiefs kicked our butt, but that’s ok. It was probably the rain’s fault anyway.
Afterwards we went downtown to explore Wellington’s night life. Tim used to work (and possibly manage) a bar called Mishmosh, so after hopping around to a couple other places we headed to Tim’s bar. Tim literally knew the town, it seemed like every other bar we passed he stopped to chat and laugh with the bouncers or passer-bys. But Mishmosh was the place to be!
The bar was full, but not insufferably packed. It smelled vaguely of cinnamon, and had tasteful décor. The wall opposite the main entrance sported a large plaque saying, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” There were three bars in the one bar. The basement was called the “Madame Peacock room” and had pictures of vintage swimsuit models framed in chunky frames all over the walls.
At the end of the night we all headed over to the local Burgerfuel for a midnight snack, and then made our way back to the hostel.
The hostel was interesting. The whole place was pretty smelly and dirty and someone dropped a sheet-full of puke outside my room. I was in a 4 person bunk room with Jake and 2 random guys. One of the guys slept as peacefully as dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant (to quote Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation). He was the loudest snoring, German sleep-talking, bunk shaking, fidgety person I’ve ever met in my whole life. And the room next to me had a loud quarrel in the middle of the night because someone had taken someone else’s bed…
Anyway, Saturday started off at 8am when we all headed out to search for “Fidel’s,” a Cuban café that Tim raved about. Fidel’s was a super cute, super hipster café with really good coffee, tasty breakfasts, and jaw-dropping Snickers shakes.
We met up with the rest of the group at the Te Papa New Zealand Museum. We only had and hour and a half to spend at the 5-story museum. If I get to go back to Wellington, that would be my number 1 stop. It was so cool! And we missed so much rushing through it.
We did get to go into an authentic Maori meeting house, take a look at the Treaty of Waitangi, and get a glimpse of preserved kiwis, giant squids (bigger than the Smithsonian’s squid), fossils, tree rings thousands of years old, and some of New Zealands most famous birds.
We later moved on to shop and eat on Cuba street, and view Wellington from a hill-top view point. Next stop…Weta workshop!
I previously only knew about Weta from Lord of the Rings, and I had thought they were strictly a prop-making company. I had so much to learn. Weta was a company started in the 80’s in the back room of a 20-something couple’s flat in Wellington. They did freelance work for random drama companies and whatnot until the young Peter Jackson stopped by their place because he heard they made cool puppets. From then on their company grew and grew, and they’ve worked on hundreds of movies – everything from cheesy no-name movies to LOTR, Avatar, King Kong, The Avengers, I Robot, and more. The Weta cave is a mini museum about 0.5k away from Peter Jackson’s house. They museum is designed to give eager fans a glimpse of what Weta does without interfering with their work or giving away the secrets of movies-in-process.
Lastly, after some fish ‘n chips, we headed to the Wellington observatory. The observatory was pretty neat, and a little informative. One thing you’ll learn in New Zealand: The first thing kiwi’s do with everything – news stories on TV, museums, books, whatever – is find fellow kiwis who had a part in it and let you know about it. For example, when the Boston bombing aired on kiwi news for the first time, the first thing they did was talk about the 2 kiwi runners who were there and find one in the crowd to interview him. The observatory was the same. Granted, New Zealand southern skies are a stunning site and unique in many ways. And New Zealand scientists have had an impressionable impact on astronomy and physics. The show we watched in that big domed room was pretty cool as well, a little show called “We are Aliens.”
Jake and I are planning on going back to Wellington, two days was not quite enough! Wellington was interesting, full of culture, clean, and active. It didn’t even smell bad :)