I Continue From Here
Backpacking NZ : Day 16 (18-Dec-2016)
An Extremely Windy City
Mt Victoria is a small hill located in the Wellington city and it is very close to the YHA hostel. It was predicted to be a windy day. But I did not expect it to be as ferocious as it was. I think it was about 46 km/h - Unbearable at times! The walk up the hill was a pleasant experience and to be the only one up there, at that early hour of the day was also exciting. However, the wind made it difficult to stay long at any place. The pine trees made loud roaring sounds as its branches were swayed by the terrible wind. Wellington city and it often receives such high winds.
The view from the summit was rewarding and there was a Māori connection to the hill as well of some ancient Māori sinking in the sea and then emerging out as a God.
On my way back, I took a different route that passed through a residential areas. Houses were built along the hill and their garage were made of wooden platform with a shelter built to accommodate one or two cars. Strong wooden pillars supported the platform from the slope below. I enjoyed, as always, viewing the architecture. I like how every neighbouring houses are always are different in its own way indicating individual personalities and interests of the owners.
Te Papa is a beautiful museum by the sea. Again, walkable from YHA. I am no big fan of spending hours in a museum so, I took a quick walk around the place. I particularly liked a exhibition on war and some old paintings. I also liked a film on Te Rapuparah, an influential Māori chief.
Sunday market was setup by the quay and farmers were selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Lot of food stalls were set up selling world cuisine, including some Indian food.
There was another market setup indoors and I walked in there hoping to find something local and interesting like I had in Nelson. But, I found nothing that caught my attention. In a corner, an Indian lady was preparing masala dosa. While I am traveling, I generally avoid eating Indian food so that I can try the local cuisine as much as possible. But, how could I avoid my favourite Masala dosa? It looked yummy. My first choice however was the Spanish paella but the girl cooking it did not have any vegetarian option. I ate at the dinning area arranged in one end of the market where a couple were playing music.
I took a cable car ride up a small hill. The cable car ride was short and rather unimpressive. Probably, I was expecting too much; like in Victoria peak, Hong Kong. The best part of the ride was not the views of the city but the tunnels that had impressive lighting.
On the hill is a botanical garden and an observatory. One could also catch a free shuttle to Zealandia, a nature reserve with exotic birds.
I chose to watch a show on stars in the planetarium. It was terrible!
So far, I have had great experiences in the parts of the country that are much closer to nature and so, developed cities seem out of place and ordinary. Wellington is not doubt a beautiful city but cities no more excites me. I feel, I have nothing to do in cities other than going to museums and taking fun rides to see the sky scrapers, if there are any.
Back down, I walked to the parliament building. There was a free tour inside the parliament. Having nothing else to do, I decided to go on that tour. Believe me, that was the best part of my day. We were taken on a hour long walk inside the parliament house of New Zealand. We were explained about the countries main political parties and how the different houses work. We were taken to the lower house and the upper house (That is no more active). We walked into the library as well which was rescued and renovated from a fire, a few decades ago. The new parliament house resembles a bee hive. The best part of the tour was to go to the basement and see how the existing buildings were modified to withstand earthquake. First, more than 400 isolators (Bearings) were installed, connecting the foundation with the building. Then, the entire building was cut to separate it from the foundation and now being held only by the isolators. In case of a earthquake, the bearings would absorb the vibration and prevent it to be translated to the building. An impressive video demonstrating the same and a cross-sectional view of the isolator was, I think very educative and most interesting part of this tour. I was also impressed by the fact that I was actually in the parliament house. If there would have been a session going on at that time, we could have viewed that as well. From where I come from, we are not even allowed anywhere close to the gates.
Back in the hostel, after dinner, I sat in the dinning area writing my journal. There were an interesting group of people there. They were playing music, singing songs, playing with a Māori pendulum like object. It was a lively down there.