Weekend in Wellington

It’s the national capital, at the bottom of North Island with easy access (several ferries a day plus lots of flights) to the South Island. Being on the Cook Straight which separates North from South, it’s mighty windy much of the time. It’s on a very large and nearly circular bay; if you imagine the exit from the circle as being roughly opposite downtown Wellington and about – oh, 15km away? – you’d be sort of right, and then imagine lovely beaches and various suburbs circling out along the bay’s coastline like arms around the main downtown area. (On the backside of some of these arms is open ocean, since after all the whole thing is an island and this is the narrow southern end.) It has a really excellent national museum, newly conceived and built in the late 1990s or early 2000s and called Te Papa (short for something a bit longer; I’m fairly sure Te Papa basically means The Museum). It has the three-building parliamentary complex, very friendly with free daily tours of its lovely restored and earthquake-proofed buildings, seen below: on left, ‘The Beehive’ which houses executive offices; middle, the older parliament building where the SINGLE house of NZ’s parliament meets: no senate here to block progress with filibusters; and, no, that’s not a church on the right: it’s a gorgeous gothic (?yes? any archtiectural history folks among my handful of readers?) parliamentary library. NZ’s answer to the Library of Congress, as it were. Cheers to Denis & Steven for very graciously hosting me during my Wellington stay, and showing me great hiking and coastline along that above-mentioned big bay.

That big building next to the parking lot? That’s Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand, opened at this site in 1998. Auckland, I’m told, is jealous that the museum was built in Wellington, which is…um, the capital? And more, like, in the middle of the country? Auckland’s got a very nice museum of their own, but their parks are either hard to access and surrounded by too many big roads, or sort of afterthoughts. Unlike the parks I visited in Wellington. So there, Auckland. Get over yourself. 🙂 (I mean, is NYC jealous that the Smithsonian is in DC? No, NYC just made its own great museums. That’s what real cities do. Duh.)

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