From Napier our Ultimate coach took us south to Wellington, our last stop on the North Island. The city is New Zealand’s capital and has been since 1865, supplanting Auckland in that role. In Australia, Canberra was created halfway between Melbourne and Sydney to end the rivalry between the two cities. In New Zealand it was much simpler than that: gold had been found on the South Island, people had flocked there and the Powers That Be feared that the South Island would declare autonomy. So, they moved the capital to a location that could more easily cover both islands. Wellington’s beautiful natural harbour was another strong selling point.
Linda took us on a city tour, pointing out the important landmarks such as the port where the inter-island ferries dock and NZ’s parliament house, known for obvious reasons as the beehive. I do have to wonder if the pollies are as industrious as bees but that’s another story.
We noticed much excitement in the Islander community, many vehicles decked out with Samoan flags. Samoa had made it to the Grand Final of the Rugby World Cup, a fantastic result for a tiny island nation. (The All Blacks beat them.)
Driving around the esplanade around the harbour Linda pointed out the garages with escalator contraptions at the side. This was so the Wellingtonians could have their mansion with the lovely water views but no parking places and still have a car. You parked your car down the bottom and moved up to the top with your private elevator. Back in the old days it was done the old way, with stairs.
We stopped at Wellington’s lovely Botanic Gardens for lunch and to view the gorgeous rose garden.
From there we drove up Mount Victoria for a scenic view over Wellington. The scene in the Lord of the Rings where the hobbits cower under a bank as a Black Rider looks for them was filmed here.
There’s also a monument to noted Antarctic explorer, Admiral Byrd.
In the afternoon we visited the Te Papa museum. Most of us chose to go to the Gallipoli exhibition. That was truly amazing and I’ve written a separate post for it. Others went on a general tour of the museum. I’m sure they enjoyed it.
We stayed at the Intercontinental that night. Tomorrow we’d be off to the South Island.
By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.