“I love this city, the hills, the harbour the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude…there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance.”
So wrote Patricia Grace, award-winning New Zealand Maori author, about her home town of Wellington and so did we, falling in love with this, the smallest and friendliest capital city, when we spent just over a day in Wellington. Far too brief a time there but we did seem to have packed a lot in.
It was windy when we’d arrived the previous evening, as we’d been warned, so it was good to wake up to sunshine, blue skies and just a gentle breeze.
The grand Civic Square, City Gallery to the right
A short walk to the City Gallery (everywhere is a short walk in this small city) to find breakfast at the adjacent Nikau Cafe. Highly recommended, it was just the place to start the day.
Black pudding eggs and kimchi
Whilst Wink indulged herself with pancakes with honey butter, apple syrup I was wise and had a self assembled dish of sage fried eggs, black pudding and, er, sautéd kimchi (a Korean fermented cabbage dish, more pungent than, but similar to, sauerkraut). It made for an interesting change…
There is art everywhere in the city. In the Civic Square, with a backdrop of statues of nikau palms, Neil Dawsons’s Ferns appears to be held aloft by a chap with a spring in his step.
After breakfast we walked over the City to Sea Bridge, a dramatic thoroughfare with non-traditional wooden sculptures carved by prominent Māori artist Paratene Matchitt, some of which form the sides of the bridge.
Our gentle stroll along the quay was nothing compared to the effort of the paddlers on the water.
Then it was time for a trip on the cable car, which is still in use by commuters as well as tourists; it was built at the turn of the 20th century opening up development on the hills above the city.
It was a jolly rattle up to the top where we were greeted by great views over Wellington, and the blue, blue sea.
A helpful official guide showed us the route to walk down through the Botanic Garden. Just follow the symbols embedded in the path, so off we went.
The garden was established in 1868 and the trees growing today grew from seedlings planted at this time, and are some of the oldest exotic trees in New Zealand.
A fine garden seat in memory Basil, the horticultural cat.
The Lady Norwood Rose Garden with spring flowers, a grand conservatory, the park keeper’s house and more statuary.
We paused at the Seddon memorial which honours the life of Richard Seddon, an important prime minister at the end of the 19th century, before continuing down through Bolton Street Cemetery.
When the motorway was built through it in the 1990s they planned to move the 2000 graves in its path, only to discover another 1700 bodies there which were not documented! Which of course were moved as well.
By this time Wink needed a little encouragement to laugh…
The Beehive – Executive Wing
On past the seat of government to return to walk along the quay to reach Cuba Street as it was well nigh time for lunch; in spite of our hearty breakfast we had worked up an appetite. And not just hunger because we were keen to discover more of Patricia Grace’s “…pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude…as well as the edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance”.
Bollards modelled on burgeoning Kiwi ferns
I will tell you how we got on during our day in Wellington in my next post…