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Just loved it here !!! Definitely my sort of place !!!

semi-overcast 20 °C

Wednesday 7th January

Had a great day today, exploring Wellington ; even the wind didnt detract from what turned out to be a really good day. We headed up to the top of Mount Victoria in the morning, got some great views out over the harbour and even spotted our hotel.

I was quite impressed with the sculpture/piece of art ( The Byrd Monumnet) that was put up there to honour arctic explorer Admiral Richard Byrd. It was redesigned in 2000 ( think the original was put up in the sixities) by a local artist and made from ceramic tiles. One side of it shows the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis - of course I posed for a few photos next to it. Also climbed onto the big cannon a bit further along ( like a big kid) - blame Val for egging me on to do it !!! The cannon was fired daily much like our own 1 o'clock gun, although it was discontinued many moons ago.

We drove along Oriental Parade, because the guide books all recommended we saw it ; wasnt that impressive - apart from the joggers and a few boats there wasnt much to see so we quickly about turned and did a trial run to the Interislander ferry for tomorrow and our trip to the South Island ( very close to the hotel so it shouldnt take us long) then spent the afternoon at Te Papo, Wellington's famous cultural museum. Very impressive set up - puts ours to shame I must say ; everything was very geared up towards engaging with kids, yet there was enough other bits to keep the adults amused. Lots and lots of really good European Art - loads of Scottish Artists emmigrated to NZ in the mid 19th century and a lot of their works were on show ( James Nairn impressed me the most - originally from Glasgow. Also like some of Duncan Grant's work ( originally one of the Bloomsbury Set) ands a local artist called Robin White.

Val and I took the cultured bit to a whole new level by breaking the habit of a lifetime and having a few Gin and Tonics either side of our museum visit. It's a wonder I can remember seeing anything LOL.

We finished off the day by heading for something to eat at Monsoson Poon - a lovely Asian retsaurant that served the most amazing food, which was kind of like a fusion between traditional and modern Asian cooking. Terrific cocktails too - which we needed as both our meals were incredibly spicy.

Almost forgot to mention our little drink in The Kiwi bar - a brilliant little pub which wasnt particularly authentic New Zealand ( pastel painted deckchair type seating outside) but had a great feel to it, and was more laid back than some of the busier pubs on Courtenay Place. And they had CIDER !!!!!!

Finally we headed to the Embassy Theatre, the cinema where the world Premiere of "The Return of The King" took place( "Lord of the Rings" is understandably massive throughout New Zealand, there are tours of landmarks from the films everywhere you go,and Peter Jackson the director was a local boy from Wellington so guess he's a bit of a god in these parts !!) Its an amazing theatre, lovingly looked after with excellent knowledgable staff - think it was restored for the Premiere though as it looks very new.

We saw "Austrailia" which I thought was kind of apt - okay, well at least its the same continent. Film was good, although it ws really the atmosphere and the architecture of the building that made it such a good night.

I'd recommend Wellington to anyone - its very very friendly, has a great buzz around its pubs and restaurants, and all the locals seems to have gotten the work/life balance totally spot on. Sure its a bit windy because of its geographical location but you soon get used to that and culturally I thought it had a lot more going for it than Auckland ( sorry Lynnie !!!). All the locals here say that although Auckland is the biggest city in NZ , Wellington's stronger on culture, art and quality. Neither myself or Valerie could disagree - and its easily moved into the highlight of our trip to New Zealand so far !!!.

Posted by Sparkster 02:07 Archived in New Zealand

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