Here be Hobbits.
Wednesday 7 - Friday 9 June
Wellington is New Zealand's capital city, and as you might expect it is huge and busy. A lesser known fact is that it is twinned with Harrogate, Yorkshire, in the UK.
Wellington? Or Harrogate?
Wednesday provided another sunny day allowing us to get out and explore. Much as we don't mind exploring bigger cities, we find stretching our legs and seeing a bit of nature a preferable alternative. Lucky then, that Wellington's impressive Botanical Gardens based high on a hillside in a district called Kelburn can be reached by (yes, another!) funicular tram from Lambton Quay in the city's business district. Luckier still that on the way to the funicular I spotted a hiking shop called 'Mainly Tramping" in which Sharon found her perfect pair of walking boots.
Atop the 628 metre ascent sit the 25 hectares devoted to the Botanical Gardens; a maze of pathways leads to various grouped species of plants, stands of trees, impressive sculptures
The 'Listening & Viewing Device' Sculpture. With added legs.
and a large Victorian glass greenhouse containing hundreds of specimens like these:
We spent the bulk of the day exploring the gardens, before heading back into town through the adjoining Bolton Street Memorial Gardens, pausing to look in the tiny chapel.
Stung by the previous evening's dinner experience (see previous entry), we opted for a supermarket visit for eats, but not before we paid a lengthy and very enjoyable visit to a bar famed as the only place in the Southern Hemisphere to sell 100 different beers!
Thursday 8 June
Today we took as a much-needed 'catch up' day. Washing was to be done, blogs were to be written, routes were to be planned and sleep was to be caught up with. Sharon arose especially early to grab a car parking spot in a side-street next to the apartments, where we had been assured that parking restrictions didn't apply; just as well, as we had been forking out car-park fees up until now.
It doesn't make for very exciting blog entries, but sometimes we find there are days when we just don't do stuff...
Friday 9 June
With all of the housekeeping taken care of, today was another day for getting out and exploring downtown Wellington. Of particular interest was a visit to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. I'm not a great fan on museums but this one had been highly recommended to us, and once there I could see why.
Te Papa is enormous; set over five floors split into different zones it covers all aspects of New Zealand's history from its geological and geographical origins, through its earliest settlers and onward right up until today. The best aspect though, is that all of the exhibits are interactive - for example, you can actually experience what it feels like to be in a house when an earthquake occurs.
I was so enthralled by Te Papa that I could have filled the blog with thousands of pictures, but for a far better experience I recommend you visit the museum's website.
Just when we thought things couldn't get any better... we visited the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy exhibition which currently takes up the entire fifth floor of the museum. Here we got to see hundreds of original costumes, weapons and models used in the films, plus artwork and special effects demonstrations; sadly I can't illustrate any of this here as photography is strictly forbidden. But trust me, if you are a fan of Tolkien or Peter Jackson then entry fee is more than justified.
It was evening when we left Te Papa (we'd entered at lunchtime!), and having had such a great day we felt it only right and proper to round off our time in Wellington with a return visit to the pub-of-100-beers. Hic.