A Wellingtonian Christmas and a Taupo Next Step

Posted on January 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Woo! Christmas! Oh wait. We've already done that post. So instead, let's talk Wellington – the capital of New Zealand and the country's third largest town (oooooo). Part of the reason we were in Wellington was to stay with some friends for Christmas. The Zwimpflers were amazing hosts, cooking us fabulous food throughout our stay (including a glorious lamb roast as part of Christmas dinner), and were really helpful in suggesting things to do whilst we were in town. The Christmas tree (which you will have seen a glimpse of behind us in our Christmas post) was also incredibly festive, and is the first large live Christmas tree I think I've ever seen.

Wellington is a lovely compact city (although the larger area actually comprises 3 urban centers), with an oddly thriving cafe culture (I'll explain the oddly in a bit). The city center is set out around Lambton Harbour which has a pronounced curved, and so the major streets also curves around, which makes for pleasant walking. I say the "oddly thriving" cafe culture because Wellington is a windy city – really windy. Just look at the current weather as predicted by the Met Service: http://www.metservice.co.nz/towns-cities/wellington (almost any time of day). As I look at it, the winds are gusting to 50 kph. And yet, people will sit outside (in the summer of course, they're not crazy) and sip on coffee. Some of the best coffee in the world I am assured (since Rachel and I don't drink it, we'll have to take their word for it), but in hugely gusty conditions.

However, I'm rambling. The first day in Wellington we went for a saunter around the city center (CBD) and into Te Papa, the national museum. Inside is a collection of Maori and Pacific Island items (the temporary exhibition on pounamau or greenstone was fascinating), some kids from Vanuatu playing music, detailed information about the Treaty of Waitangi (the document that made Maori subjects of the British Crown and also acknowledge their land rights in an imprecise manner ), the indescribable new Marae (meeting place – in glorious colours and modern Maori art) and, well, The Colossal Squid (which came highly recommended). The latter is a tad freezer burnt and deformed, but is nevertheless impressive.

We spent time in the Botanical Gardens in Wellington (what can we say? We're lovers of green spaces), which has some great walks and views over the city. We got up there by funicular railway (confusingly called a 'cable car') and had a great walk around the greenery, and the many sculptures.

There was also a quirky interactive sundial. Watch Rachel model:

And we also met up with another friend of a friend (who indeed had recommended the frozen squid to me) and had lunch. Hi Helen 'n' Doug!

From Wellington, we travelled up to Taupo, a town on the edge of a huge lake – a lake which is in fact the crater of a volcano. The hostel we stayed in was notable for the noisy bar adjacent (which kept Rachel up late one night), as well as an amazing roof terrace. Whilst we were in Taupo, we finally went parasailing, something we had been keen to do since I explained what it was in Malaysia:

Although it looks gray, (and we got slightly rained on during our flight), the view over the lake was amazing, and you could see sun shining over the lake. We went up to a distance of 800 feet for about 12 minutes in tandem. It was like sitting on a big swing :->. That same day we also went white water rafting, which was an awesome experience. I've been white water kayaking before (in fact on my previous trip to New Zealand), but the rafting with a guide was a great experience. There were six of us in our raft, and we went down the class 3 Tongariro River. A high point was a stop at the side of the river to jump off a cliff into the water. Against by better judgement and sanity, I lept off a 9 meter drop (people stopped screaming and started again before they hit the water), but didn't see much of it as I had my eyes closed. Rachel went off the 3 meter drop – which was incredible (given that this forced her head underwater for a few minutes, and that the water was incredibly cold).

Unfortunately we have no pictures (they were expensive to get). As usual, we'll have some more shots up in the next couple of days so you can get a better idea of Wellington and Taupo.

One final thing though: on our way out of town the next day (en route to Rotorua), we passed this insane McDonald's structure. Attached to a regular (new styled) McCafe, we just had to take a picture of it, although not even this was enough to entice us inside:

Crazy franchise. What will they think of next?

'laters,

James

Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas

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