Viveka at My Guilty Pleasures is hosting the challenge this week, Capitals. She talks about how she loves big cities and bright lights but I want to share some photos of our small capital with you.
‘Gee, it’s great to be back in Wellington.’*
New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington became a favourite destination of ours when our youngest daughter moved there in 2017. A compact city of 220,000 it was recently named “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet. It’s the culinary capital and the creative capital of NZ too. It’s culture is fueled by great food, wine, craft beer, coffee, markets and amazing events. It’s the home of:
Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop best known for its Academy Award winning work on The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Avatar among others,
the World of Wearable Arts awards, ‘a theatrical spectacle and magnet for extraordinary talent from around the world’,
the NZ Symphony Orchestra and Royal NZ Ballet,
Zealandia, the world’s first fully-fenced eco-sanctuary brim full of native and endangered species,
the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa,
National Archives, National Library and the Supreme Court
and of course it is the seat of Parliament.
‘I’m allergic to fresh air in slow motion, I’d be peeved if the day is too still. I like a breath from the ocean, on top of a Wellington hill.’*
With the Remutaka Range behind and Cook Strait in front, the central business district is shoe horned into a narrow strip of land at the harbour’s edge. Many of the residential suburbs sit high above the city on forested hillsides.
Gallipoli, The Scale of Our War is a long running exhibition at Te Papa in partnership with Weta Workshop that tells the story of the 8 month campaign in WW1 through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders. Each of the exhibits is 2.4 times human size. The detail is incredible, sweat on brows, hair and veins standing out on limbs and expressions of horror and fear, all on a monumental scale. Running since 2015, the lines are still long on weekends and when the cruise ships are in.
‘I’m content to be holding my lid on, at the corner of Lambton Quay, as I cling to the earth with my eyebrows, against the wind that is shoving at me’*
Wellington is the southernmost capital in the world and with its location in the Roaring Forties is the world’s windiest city, with an average wind speed of 27 km/h (17 mph). Situated on the southernmost tip of the North Island, it’s exposed to strong winds through Cook Strait that earned it the nickname “Windy Wellington.” To be fair, it’s almost always blowing.
Established in 1868, the Wellington Botanic Garden covers 25 hectares above the city with themed gardens and curated plant collections. A ride up in the cable car is fun and saves your legs from a climb.
‘Give me good old Island Bay, where the gentle zephyrs play, and the missus rolls down the hill with a mouthful of clothes pegs on washing day.’*
Wellington is ranked 12th in the world’s most liveable cities and it’s easy to keep fit without paying gym fees. It’s hilly. The central business district covers the flat and a series of terraces rise up the hills, lined with narrow, wooden houses. Walking is easy, at least half of any trip is downhill but driving is a white knuckle experience on the steep narrow streets.
Beautiful Lyall Bay, a 30 minute drive from the city is a popular surf beach and home of the recording studio of Fat Freddy’s Drop. You can listen to their quintessential kiwi hit Wandering Eye here.
Wellington airport is behind me at the city end of the bay. It’s exciting to watch planes take off and land in all kinds of weather, but I’d rather not be on one.
It’s a 3 to 3 1/2 hour trip across the moody stretch of water to the South Island on an inter island ferry. In April 1968, the ferry Wahine foundered on Barrett Reef at the entrance to Wellington Harbour in ‘the worst storm conditions ever recorded’. It was New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster, with the loss of 53 lives.
‘Northerly, southerly, cyclone or gale, tornado or typhoon, old Wellington can dish the lot up, any summer afternoon.’*
*The excerpts of an ode to Wellington’s weather were written by an unknown returned soldier during World War II. You can hear a full recitation on the Nga Taonga Sound and Vision website here.