Wellington: The Nation’s Capital

by David on January 24, 2010

Observation deck at Te Papa

Observation deck at Te Papa

Ok. When I last left off, I had just left Napier. To give you some perspective on the dates, that was December 14th. After a lovely five-hour busride (with one stop for a delicious kebab) we swung into the nation’s capital, Wellington.

I had a four-night booking at the Wellington YHA, a six-floor monster of a hostel, with cavernous kitchens and common areas. When I arrived, in my room was a Swiss girl and two middle-aged Canadians from Lethbridge.

Home?

Wellington has particular interest for me because it is the city I had chosen to eventually settle in at some point during my trip. I arrived in the city knowing it may very well be “home” for me for a while.

This NZ trip is taking on a different form than I initially pictured. My throwaway stop in Thailand (which mushroomed into a proper four-week tour of the country) set a new tone for the trip. Whereas before I pictured simply transplanting myself to a city in NZ to dig in and work for a year, soon enough I found myself in the middle of a three- or four-month trek across two countries. If it were financially feasible, I’d be happy to keep myself mobile the entire year, stopping here and there to do some casual work to replenish the coffers.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do. I haven’t tested the job-market waters in Wellington yet (or in Auckland for that matter) so I don’t know if I’m going to find career-relating work and live a static, professional, citydwelling existence, or a seat-of-the-pants, busriding, fruitpicking, vagabond sojourn for the whole year. Either will suit, I think, I just have to make sure I leave a sizable cash cushion in case my experiment doesn’t work at first.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is my initial wander around the city the evening I arrive. Just outside the hostel, several streets were closed off and a crowd was gathering. I picked my way through the crowd to discover a genuine red-carpet ceremony with a parade of clean, photogenic people walking to a fancy theatre. It turns out it was the premier of Peter Jackson’s new film The Lovely Bones.

I found the crowd to be more interesting than the unfamiliar carpet-walkers.

I lost interest in the premier hubbub, went for ice cream (stracciatella and espresso) and continued to wander. I found Wellington to be a highly beautified city, with public art and flora everywhere. It’s clean and compact, and has a human warmth to it that is conspicuously absent in Auckland.

Welly is, for better or worse, incurably trendy. Clean-cut thirtysomethings in ties and powersuits swarm the cafés at midday and midafternoon. There is a strong arty vibe, which I consider a good thing, and I sensed there was some good live music simmering somewhere in the city but I didn’t go looking. I spent my days gathering supplies and tying up some loose ends (it seems this process never ends) and eating ice cream.

Welly is known for its wind. So is Winnipeg, my hometown, but I was not prepared for the sort of rude, persistent blasting I experienced all five of the days I spent in Wellington. It howls through the buildings and makes shady areas chilly, even on a warm, sunny day. It almost felt like a dealbreaker; I don’t know if I want to live in a city where I have to contend with such an obnoxious natural phenomenon every day.

Everything else about Wellington, I liked. It has a strong arts and music scene, it isn’t overly metropolitan like Auckland, and the city itself is small enough to walk everywhere if you’ve got the time.

Because of demand, I had, months earlier, booked accommodation at the huts along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track for December 23-26, so I had to get a move on. On December 18 I set sail for the South Island.

Photos:

Yes, I know I am very much behind. This took place a month ago. But as you can see, I’ve got a shiny new photo plugin working (I hope) so things should be back underway. Lots of pictures on the way, and not many words. -D.

{ 7 comments }

Brad P January 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

Glad to see you are still updating DGK, despite your misgivings. Personally I just like to look at the pictures and think “wow, he’s going to some cool places and doing cool stuff”. The descriptions of course help, but–this is almost cliche–if you share what is most interesting to yourself will be interesting to your readers. I stumbled and reviewed the main DGK page, hopefully to trickle in a little more traffic for your hard work

Feel free to befriend me on Stumbleupon (bradp8nting) if you want to send me stuff to “thumb up”.

Brad P January 24, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Heh, nevermind…I guess they got rid of the “friend” feature. Anyway, keep on enjoying your travels!

David January 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Thanks Brad. I’m not really worrying about traffic to DGK. It’s for people who want to keep tabs on my trip, however many there are. I’m not doing such a great job keeping it up to date though :(

Regan January 25, 2010 at 4:04 am

Welcome to Wellington :) We spend quite a lot of time bitching about the wind too, it’s pretty much a local pastime and means we always have something to talk about!
I came to this blog via your Raptitude blog which I came to via Gala Darling’s blog. Enjoyed Raptitude very much, and looking forward to seeing how you enjoy NZ!

David January 25, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Hi Regan. Nice to hear from a genuine Welly girl. Sorry for the lagging updates here. I left Wellington five weeks ago. I’ve got a massive backlog of pictures I’m going to begin uploading now that I’ve got it sorted out, so expect more. I’m in Queenstown at the moment prepping for the Milford track, so it may be a week or so, but more frequent updates are coming. Raptitude is my main squeeze in the blog world so I keep it more or less up to date, at the expense of this blog. Hope to hear from you again soon.

Regan January 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Enjoy the track! I hear it’s beautiful (one of those things I always *mean* to do!)
It’s always interesting to see your own country through others’ eyes.

James January 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Yes! Welcome to Wellington David! just stumbled on your blog and saw your down these ways now, hope you’re enjoying your trip!
peace and thanks for all the great writing :)
James

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