Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wellington Visit

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.
The trip was cold enough that it sent the crochet team inside to hook up some warm blankets.
 siIMG_5088We really enjoyed the roadtrip with our enthusiastic travel companions, especially the fine dining road stops.
When we arrived in Wellington we bid adieu to our traveling companions, Ken and Di, as they made their way to the airport and plane ride back to San Diego via Auckland and Hawaii. It was an opportunity for them to pass on the Llama Flu (which we all got eventually) internationally. We stayed on for a day in Wellington to spread it around there.
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.
wellIMG_5384 Lots of larger than life action figures depicting real characters from the war.
Along with a lot of stiff-upper-lip British Empire glorification of war.
The museum also has a large and really interesting photography section (most of these photos are available online). Check the chin tattoos, signalling high status, on this elegant Maori woman.
Of course the men’s tattoos are far superior.

In her quest to see all the rare and wonderful birds of NZ, Chris enjoyed checking out the giant Moa on display. The Moa were  actually 2 of 9 members of this species of flightless birds which ranged in size from 13 or more feet tall to the tiny kiwi birds. They were hunted to extinction by the Maori about 500 years ago. Some bones were still around when the first Europeans arrived.
A walk around the Wellington waterfront brings us to some nice rusty stuff.
They also had a large farmers market down at the quay. This was the end of our roadtrip. Now it’s back to Whangarei and a long list of boat projects.

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