We were only there for a whopping one day, so I’m not exactly qualified to mainline the essence of the place. However, we’ve got a blog, so wild suggestions, far-ranging comparisons, hyperbolic descriptions and outlandish claims are part of our stock in trade.
Why quibble about journalistic integrity?
To begin, we both really liked the place. The area where we were staying have houses built steeply on a hill, so to help out pedestrians, there are common pedestrians walkways in behind the houses, kind of like Toronto or Vancouver has back alleys for cars.
The main thing we were told to see while we were here was Te Papa – New Zealand’s Historical Museum, which was not a difficult draw since it was free admission, and we are in the throes of self-imposed penny-pinching. The building is near the waterfront with tons of people coming in and out:
One of the strangest exhibits was a giant squid, preserved in formaldehyde, apparently the only specimen on display anywhere in the world (Sorry, this is one photo I missed.) It’s neat to see, but I thought: “Okay, New Zealand has a lot of big squid?” – then we watch a video and apparently how it got here was that a New Zealand fishing boat was fishing in Antarctica, hooked a giant squid, and thought: “Ah, we’ll donate it the museum back home.”.
In any case, something that is unmistakably New Zealand is Maori culture. Rose and I have asked around to see if we could visit a Marae – a Maori village/meeting place, but keep being steered to highly developed performances that are well-developed, and seem overly elaborate, rather than simply visiting one without the fanfare. We understood from someone who had visited New Zealand that he approached a Marae and met people there.
But we haven’t got the confidence to ring the doorbell ourselves of the blue, and the one connection we had to visit one more informally didn’t pan out, and other opportunities never arose.
With that, we settled for the Te Papa museum:
We also toured around Cuba street, a popular downtown spot with a lot of restaurants and record stores. Afterwards to bed at our insanely amazing AirBnB room – that photo at the very top was our spot – and listened to the howling winds of Wellington.
The next day, we drove the car onto this thing:
Shipped away from the North Island:
And landed in Picton on the South Island:
Our next stop, Abel Tasman National Park ( via Motueka) for a short stroll.