February 24, 2017
Well, I have decided that I could easily live in New Zealand. Except for the earthquakes, of course. We learned today that the cruise terminal was damaged by an earlier earthquake and so we docked at the container port. That is common in many places but not usually here. So we could not walk through the port and had a shuttle bus to town. We love the walk so were a bit disappointed, but it turned out we shouldn’t have been, we clocked over 5 miles walking anyway.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is on the southern tip of the North Island. The harbor and the beautiful hilly terrain are the real highlights here. It is a modern city with lots of shops, pubs and restaurants.
We started off at the cable car (which is really a funicular) which takes you up from Lambton Quay to the top of the Kelburn area. It travels through tunnels climbing 120 meters in 5 minutes. The view is spectacular and we were lucky to have a clear day, perfect temperature.
We had a visit to the cable car museum as well. Interesting history and examples of the cables and mechanisms used. The system was built back in 1889-1902 and in 1933 electricity replaced steam as the power source. In 1978 the original system was replaced by a Swiss designed system which remains in operation today. But what was really fascinating was the film of the homeowners who live up on these hills and have created their own cable car systems so they don’t have to go down the steps to walk their dogs, carry groceries,etc. They have the spectacular views and the small cable cars make living so high easier for them.
Next we spent hours in the Wellington Botanic Garden. it was established in 1868 and was originally part of a program to import plant species and assess their economic potential for the new colony. The garden is huge, covering over 65 acres of forest and plant collections. It is hilly and has both paved and natural paths. We especially enjoyed the hydrangeas, the Begonia house and the Lady Norwood rose garden which has 110 species of roses. Chris and Sandy, you would have loved it here.
We then walked to the parliament building where we did a tour. Unfortunately they collected all your bags, cameras, etc so we don’t have any pictures. We had a great guide who explained their political system in detail and we got to see both the chambers and the Maori affairs select committee room which has carvings representing the Maori culture covering all of the walls. Absolutely beautiful and representing the four tides, the tribes and their legends and cultural heroes. They have 121 Parliament members, 37 are women. They were the first country to give women the right to vote- in 1893.
All proceedings are both televised and open to anyone who wants to attend. There are lots of opportunities for input from citizens and they really value it. People can even attend committee hearings.
Now that we were pretty tired and thirsty- and because the ship does not leave until 11 tonight, we found a bar overlooking the water and had dinner and drinks while people watching! Got back in time to do this blog, probably have dessert on the ship and attend the show.
Tomorrow we will be in the Marlborough area, home of many great New Zealand wines. We do have a tour booked, and since we saw so many vineyards on our trip 8 years ago, we will be doing something different. Stay tuned!