Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wellington Trip, Part 1 - City Sights

I arrived in Wellington on Monday night, to a full on rain storm - I honestly thought the aeroplane was going to slip straight off the runway! The wind and rain carried on all night, so I only ventured out briefly from the hostel to look for food, but eventually settled for the bar next door where I had a free drinks voucher (mmm... free vodka...

The next day, after a sleepless night at the noisiest hostel in Wellington, I decided to spend some time wandering around Wellington. Just up the road was Civic Square, where a modern Library and Town Hall are situated.

I'm not sure what the point of the weird floating globe is. It looks a lot more stunning at night, like an eery glowing full moon, but in the day time it's not really that special. The above photo is looking up to the City-to-Sea bridge, which is where I found this plaque:

After that I walked up through town to Lambton Quay to take a look at the Beehive and the Parliament Buildings. It was strange walking through streets of skyscrapers, after the relative 'small town' feel of Dunedin. Among the modern buildings there was the odd old piece of architectural heritage, such as this building:

This is Turnbull House. I've no idea what is actually in it. Just across the road was the Beehive, where the Government members have their offices etc.

I decided to go and do one of the hourly tours around the Beehive and Parliament buildings. No, I wasn't that bored, I just felt that it would round off the recent experiences I had had with the election job etc, and there is a small part of me that is quite interested in politics even though I don't pursue it often.

Unfortunately I got a bit lost when trying to find my way to the entrance and ended up walking into the grounds the back way, where I saw this which made me laugh:

Okay, so I know it's government changeover time and they have to get rid of the old stuff to make way for the new, but I didn't think it would be quite so obvious.....

After eventually finding a security guard to give me directions to the entrance, I arrived just in time for the tour. I wasn't allowed to take photos during the tour, so I've none to show, but it was quite interesting. Got to stand in the Debating Chamber where Parliament meets, and learnt about some of the history of the buildings, such as the fires that destroyed them.

Nearby there were a few other things I wanted to check out, including the original pieces of the Treaty of Waitangi at Archives NZ. They were in displays in a darkened vault, and most were barely legible. A more interesting display at Archives NZ was one about World War One, An Impressive Silence. This is commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the end of WW1. There was a nice display about the nursing effort, which the nurse geek in me loved.

I also checked out St Paul's Cathedral and Old St Paul's. One is a 1930s Santa Fe and Byzantine mixed design and is pretty much the ugliest cathedral I've ever seen:

This pink monstrosity has replaced Old St Paul's as Wellington's Cathedral. I much preferred the wooden Gothic style of the older church, which at one point in the 1960s was at risk of being demolished.

The staff there were very friendly and told me about the history and architecture of the church. It is made from several types of NZ wood, but in a style that would normally be in stone (if it was in the UK). Why the hell anyone would prefer the new cathedral over this one is beyond me....

After my busy day of sightseeing I decided to do something a bit more relaxing during the evening. I went to the Downstage Theatre to see a play called 'Little Dog Laughed'. It had just 4 actors in it, and was an amazing play, although I wasn't quite prepared for all the male nudity!

All in all, a great first day in Wellington. Next up, Te Papa Museum!

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