BootsnAll Travel Network

Paraparaumu and Wellington

The last week or so has not been as action packed as the last few weeks have been. Upon leaving Wanganui, I made my way to Paraparaumu. This is a beachside town with the Kapiti Island wildlife reserve off the coast. I spent two nights here at the Barnacle Seaside Inn. The first night I spent in a share room but I booked the second night in a single room as every so often I just feel like being by myself. I was going to see about spending the night on Kapiti Island but was put off by the $200 a night price tag. I spent my three days here walking around town and watching movies. I saw Spiderman III at the theater but wasn’t impressed. I went to the nearby Queen Elizabeth park to do some walks. The park is full of sand dunes that is supposed to be what the coastline looked like before development. It is also supposed to be a Lord of the Rings filming spot but I didn’t recognize anything. There were no signs pointing anything out. On one clear day, I got my first glimpse of the South Island which was just visible at the horizon.

On Saturday, I drove to Wellington which is the capital of New Zealand and the launching point for ferries to the South Island. While I am in Wellington I am staying at Llew’s apartment (a Canadian I met in the US that is living here now). This apartment is shared by five people. It basically consists of a long hall with rooms off the side more resembling a hostel than an apartment. The apartment is in an old Victorian house that has been converted into three such apartments. It is in a very popular part of town as it is near the University and a five minute walk down a very large hill by way of steps that takes you into the city. None of the people living in the apartment are from New Zealand. They are all here on working visas.

As Llew is working during the week, I have spent my time here walking around the city and planning the South Island portion of my trip. I was originally going to stay in Wellington through the weekend so that Llew and I could do a trek in some nearby mountains. Upon sitting down with a calendar and realizing how short my time in New Zealand was running, I decided to go to the South Island earlier. I am leaving on Thursday.

I went to the National Museum on my first full day in the city. The museum is full of exhibits about New Zeland history and wildlife. It had the usual smattering of interactive exhibits as well as the Earthquake House. I stood in it as it shook me and taught me about one of the bad earthquakes that occured here.

On my second day, I went to the Visitor Information Center and the Department of Conservation Office to arrange my ferry trip to the South Island. I also did research on what walks are still open. To my disappointment, many of the famous walks (Milford, Routeburn, Kepler) are already snowed in at the higher elevations. They recommend only skilled alpinists attempt them at this point. Despite my mountain climb, I certainly don’t consider myself an alpinist (and most certainly not a skilled one). I did find a few lower elevation hikes I could do. The first will be the Heaphy track on the west coast which is an 82km walk I will attempt to do over four days. After spending the morning doing research, I went to the Parliament Building. I went on an organized tour of the building. During the tour, I found out that Parliament would be in session the next day and could be watched from the Public Gallery. After leaving Parliament, I went in search of the US embassy. I finally found it behind a huge mass of fences looking more like a prison than an embassy. I attempted to see if I could go in by saying that I wanted to register my trip so that the embassy staff would know I am in the country in case of an emergency. Unfortunately the consulate section of the embassy is in Auckland (why?), so I didn’t get in. I concluded the day by taking the cable tram up to the botanical gardens and wandering through paths of plants and trees from around the world. I also found the planetarium which is closed for renovations dashing my dreams of going to a show. That night I played a British version of monopoly (I lost) with Llew, his girlfriend, and one of his roommates. The properties were all places in London like Mayfair and Whitehall. The money was in pounds. Despite the currency being in pounds, all the prices were the same as in the American version (houses on the cheap street cost 50 pounds, 100 pounds on the next street, etc) The only difference was the luxury tax which was 100 pounds instead of 75. Europeans appear to be taxed more than we are in the fictional world as well.

The next day I went back to Parliament to watch a constitutional monarchy in action. I sat on the oppostion side of the gallery so that I could see the Prime Minister (Labor Party) and all of her other ministers answer questions from the opposition (National Party). I have watched British Parliament on television before and was amused at all the shouting that goes on during the Minister’s Question Period. I was not disappointed here. For an hour, the ministers were asked questions about various government policies. Whenever an answer or question was given that one side or another didn’t like, the chamber erupted into shouts, booing, and various comments about how this question or answer was offensive to someone or another. The speaker of the chamber is supposed to control who has the floor but I didn’t much see the point as everyone shouted and booed whenever they wanted to making it very hard to hear answers to questions. The chamber itself is adversarial in design in such that opposing parties face each other from opposite sides of the room across a central table. Although Parliament was to be in session for quite a few more hours, I only stayed for an hour or so.

Today I am doing laundry, writing my blog, and making general preparations to leave tomorrow. My North Island New Zealand pictures are under trip photos now.

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One Response to “Paraparaumu and Wellington”

  1. G Says:

    Greetings from across the Tasman Sea, mate! I’ve put some of my Oz pics at the blog … keep on posting! Peace out.

  2. Posted from Australia Australia

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