Windy, Rainy and an Earthquake. That pretty much sums up my first day and a half in Wellington. I arrived on Monday afternoon and it was quite windy. I got to my hostel (less than an hour after my flight landed! Crazy), dropped my stuff in my room and in 5 minutes was in the shower. About an hour later there was an earthquake. I thought it was just really windy but no, it was a 6.3 earthquake. I barely felt it; the earthquake on the east coast back in 2011 felt stronger. Anyway, I was exhausted so I ended up taking a short nap. When I woke up I got ready for gymnastics practice and took the bus to the gym. Turns out it was a public holiday and the gym was closed. I almost started crying which meant I was still SUPER tired. My default reaction when I’m tired is tears. I was also pissed that the bus cost me $3.50 and I got nothing out of it. So instead of paying another $3.50 to get back to my hostel, I walked the 3.2 miles. It was good, actually. I got to see a lot of the city. And by a lot I mean virtually the whole thing, it’s not that big.
The next day, Tuesday, I really wanted to go and see parts of the city but it rained the entire day. Not a light drizzle, a steady rain with period of heavy downpours. Plus it was super windy. Wellington is known for being incredibly windy. A few people left the hostel to go to a museum and they said they were so wet from getting there that they couldn’t enjoy it and left soon afterwards. I stayed in the hostel for most of the day, except for a quick jaunt to the food store (where I was once again astounded at how expensive food is here. Aside- when I was in Boston I wandered around a Market Basket for 45 minutes admiring the cheapness and variety. I love gocery stores. No joke). It was a relaxing day if not terribly productive, though I did finish 1 book and start another. By that evening the rain had mostly cleared up and I went to gymnastics practice.
Practice was far better than I anticipated. I hadn’t worked out in almost 5-6ish days and was still jet lagged so I wasn’t expecting much but most everything felt pretty good. I did some tumbling, timers on vault, a few beam routines and just a few turns on bars. The 90 minute open gym was $12 (plus the $7 for the bus).
When I got back to the hostel I was starving. Luckily I had mostly prepped my dinner beforehand so in about 15 minutes I was eating. Man I love curry.
When I woke up this morning it was gasp! Sunny. Incredible. I decided to head to the Botanic Gardens, then to the Cable Car Museum which is pretty much inside the Botanic Gardens, both of which are free and within walking distance of my hostel. I actually wanted to take a tour of the Parliament Building (Wellington is capital of NZ) but there are no tours this week. Maybe next week.
The Gardens were beautiful. My favorite part was the Fragrant Plants; it smelled like my grandma’s house at Easter. Also the rose garden. There were bushes and bushes of roses in all different colors. I especially enjoyed the purple ones as purple is my favorite color.
Oh and the sundial. Human Sundial. Maybe this is strange but I was never sure how a sundial actually worked. Luckily, they had instructions. Stand on the current date with your back to the sun (there was a plaque on the ground). Put your hands together over your head. Where your shadow ends is the time.
Real Time? 11:05 AM. Colored me shocked. And excited. So awesome.
The trip through the gardens took me about 2 hours total, including the walk there. I didn’t see everything though, maybe 75%.
Inside the gardens is the Cable Car Museum and a Planetarium. The museum was free so I went inside (Planetarium = $18.50. Obviously I did not venture inside even though I freaking love planetariums and observatories. Love them. Love space. Love NASA. Moving On). The cable car museum was small but well done. The main exhibit was an original gripper car that had been fully restored.
Reading about the restoration was quite interesting; the entire project took almost 2 years. Entirely unrelated- apparently people that live on steep hills in Wellington have their own private cable cars to get to their house. I had no idea.
I decided to take the cable car down even though it cost me $3.50. I kept going back and forth, back and forth about if it was going to be worth the $3.50. In the end, I could have easily walked down for free but I was curious about how it worked and what it looked like so I guess I’m glad I took it down. Also, pretty sure this is technically a fernicular but whatever.
From there I walked to the Museum of City and Sea which was about 3 blocks away (also free with free WiFi- gotta love capital cities). This museum was right on the water in an original goods warehouse at the port. It covers the history of the city of Wellington as well as its Maritime history.
My favorite part was an exhibit about the Wahine tragedy. In 1968 a passenger ferry from the south island was coming into Wellington harbor during a terrible storm, which was two storms that had collided, one from the north and one from the south. It is the worst storm to ever hit Wellington. Winds were gusting upwards of 150 mph. The ship lost radar, hit Barrett Reef, which sheered off the Starboard propeller and punch a hole in the hull below the water line, then lost the port engine. It was stranded in the harbor with 20 foot waves, 150 mph winds and 735 people on board. Remarkably, the vast majority were rescued either on life boats, by smaller boats that were sent to aid the ship or by jumping into the water and swimming. Unfortunately, 53 people died.
After that I found a park and sat in the sun for a bit, ate lunch and read. From there I made my way back to the hostel. On the way back I passed an old bank that had been restored into a mall. It was pretty cool. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of it. Confession- I lost my camera battery charger. When I got back to the states I couldn’t find it and was hoping that once I packed to leave I’d find it. Not the case. So right now my digital camera in unusable. I still have my phone, which takes decent photos, but I do miss my camera. Meh. I’ll figure it out.
Okay I’m out. It’s bed time for me. Plus this post is already a novel.