If you live in an area where there is forest fire potential you’ve probably seen signs like this. They have the fire versions all around the South Island. It took a double take before I realized it was an crossing information sign for those getting ready to take the ferry from Picton on the South Island, across the Cook Strait, to Wellington on the North Island. The Cook Strait is notorious for rough weather. The winds funnel through the gap, accelerating to gale force often. In addition, the currents generated by having the Pacific ocean on the east side and the Tasman Sea on the west side of the strait makes for some ugly seas, especially when the wind opposes the current.
It was a pretty light day when we crossed on the 183m long ferry, Aratere. All that waterline made for a smooth trip. You can see in the pic above that it is blowing pretty hard, probably mid to high 20 kts. If you look close you can see a very reefed down(small sails only) sailboat beating out of the Queen Charlotte Sound for the 55 mile crossing to Wellington.
Wellington is the capitol of New Zealand. It has some great museums with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa being the highlight. Since we didn’t have a lot of time in Wellington we spent most of it the Te Papa and in hunting out some great eating joints. For those of you short on history, or ‘thing’s I should have learned while in school’, Gallipoli refers to the World War I failed invasion of the Turkish coast by the British. The Ottoman Turks had sided with Germany. The British troops were made up primarily of Australian and New Zealand recruits who made up the Australian New Zealand Army Corps or the ANZACs (an – zak). In the run up to the landing at Anzac Cove the operation was known as The Great Adventure – not very accurate, but great for recruiting. The actual operation was one of the bloodiest, poorly planned and wasteful adventures of the war. The landing began on April 25, 1915. The Turks held their ridge lines while the British generals used ineffective tactics from the Boar War in South Africa, loosing more and more troops. By December, 1915 a quick evacuation had finally begun. Those who survived Gallipoli were sent on to more madness in France.
Its hard to underestimate the effect of Gallipoli on the New Zealand psyche. ANZAC Day, April 25, is a big deal. They even shut down liquor sales till 2pm. The Gallipoli display at the Te Papa is very well done.