Saturday, November 09, 2013

Friday, 11/08/13 Wellington, New Zealand

Friday, 11/08/13 Wellington, New Zealand

The ship pulled into the harbor just before 8:00 a.m. in heavy fog and mist, so heavy that I was not able to see the city from the ship.  The fog had begun the previous evening at sea, and it was still there in the morning.  There was no Internet service, as the signal from the satellite was blocked by the heavy fog.  There was no need to hurry, as I would not be able to leave the ship until the fog dissipated somewhat.  The port lecturer had said that volunteers would be available in the port terminal building, so after breakfast, I went there to talk with them about possible options for the day.  I had planned a walking tour, but the volunteers told me that only one would be available, at 10:00 a.m., and as it was 9:30 by then, and the fog had still not lifted, that was not an option.  At 11:00, I decided to take a taxi around.

Wellington is very pretty, built on reclaimed land in a bowl surrounded by mountains, with houses up the sides of the surrounding mountains.  The fog seemed to be lifting, so the first stop was Mt. Victoria on the south side of the bowl.  Usually the views from Mt. Victoria are spectacular, showing the city located at the base of the surrounding bowl of mountains.  I was able to get a few photos, but the fog was still pretty heavy.  After Mt. Victoria, the taxi went to the studios where the Lord of the Rings movies were made.  The Lord of the Rings was the first big movie made by the director, although he had made one previous smaller movie.  He is from New Zealand, and he has now funded the development of many buildings in the city, including the vast expansion of his studios.

Next, I went to the Parliament buildings, called the Bee Hive because of the appearance of the building, and then to Old St. Paul’s Church, the Anglican Cathedral Church of Wellington from 1866, when it was constructed, until 1964, when a new cathedral replaced it.  St. Paul’s Church is one of New Zealand’s greatest historical places and is one of the finest examples of timber Gothic Revival architecture in the world.  Many of the older buildings and houses in Wellington are constructed of wood, both because timber is plentiful and because wood is useful in earthquakes.

I then went to Lady Norwood Rose Garden, where I took photos of beautiful roses, and got a sandwich for lunch at their tea room.  The taxi driver dropped me off at the top of the mountain, and I rode the cable car back down the mountain to the Center City, where I spent the remainder of the day walking and taking photos, and then took the bus back to the ship.  Fortunately, the fog finally lifted before I returned to the Center City, so walking and taking photos was very pleasant.

The population of Wellington seems larger than 400,000 as it stretches around the entire bay.  The streets are clean and easy to understand; many of the buildings are tall and modern, although many older buildings are renovated and also in use.  The side streets are extremely narrow, and cars have to move to the side to pass oncoming traffic.  Earlier this year, the city had experienced an earthquake of magnitude 6.1, with little damage, showing that most of the buildings have been constructed to meet earthquake standards.  However, some older buildings, including a very large, beautiful church, are not in use, while waiting for renovations to meet earthquake standards.

As the ship pulled out of the harbor, the fog returned, so thick that the captain had to use the fog horn numerous times to make sure that other boats were aware of the ship’s presence.

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