Monday, April 12, 2010

Japin' round the world: Putting two feet into Wellington

So here I was in the capital of New Zealand, which can only be described as a really small big city. Sure, Wellington is a lot larger than any other towns here in New Zealand, but it really isn't that big at all. Also this city sits atop a major fault line in the Pacific plate so a big earthquake could potentially be an issue here. It certainly makes you question the logic of building a capital city here.

Also it's noticeably less crowded than any other capital (perhaps due to the reason above) I've ever visited. When I arrived I put this down to it being a Sunday evening, so naturally no one would really be out and about. However, come Monday morning when I hit the town properly, it was not much busier. I guess this is a relief to the horrible crush that I see in London, but it doesn't feel like a capital city as a result.

Still, this was still a city and as a result it has your usual city-ish things to do, such as museums, botanical gardens and odd historical follies like cable cars and trams - here its a cable car up the hill. As you can imagine, I did all this stuff whilst I was here, because being a tourist I can!

What was a real highlight however, was the Te Papa museum of New Zealand. This free entry gem helped me kill quite a few hours, as it was full of all sorts of interesting befuddlement. For instance they have an earthquake house, which allows you to experience a tremor registering five on the Richter scale. Also, they have a real preserved colossal squid on display here. Now only one of these has ever been caught alive, and this is it. Sure it's been tampered with and stuck in preservative chemicals, but it really is weird to see for yourself. Obviously for one thing it is massive, but it also has remarkably large eyes - the size of footballs.

Squid geekary aside, there was all manner of 'kiwiana' to see here, such as a custom built; life sized Maori marae (or meeting place); some interesting displays about people who've migrated to New Zealand, as well as cool stuff about volcanoes and such. I also had my chance to (virtually) destroy the Kiwi ecosystem, which was an experience if nothing else.

Whilst at the museum I managed to notice something quite funny about New Zealand, and that is that Kiwi parents have a funny habit of giving their children unusual names. I shouldn't have been surprised by this, as there was a famous case a couple of years where the parents of a nine year old girl who had been named - and I am being serious here - Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii, lost custody of their daughter for giving her such an embarrassing name. However, today at the museum, I heard parents calling out for children with names such as, Bryson; Jeramiah; and Angus.

I have to say on reflection a day visit is enough for Wellington, which is a good thing as tommorow I head into New Zealands volcano land, for Rotorua.

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