Friday, September 30, 2011

New Zealand Day 7 : Wellington, the capital city

Day 7 : Monday 12th September 2011

According to our initial plan, today we were supposed to cross over to Picton, but due to the problem we faced in Auckland the other day, we have made an arrangement to stay another day longer in Wellington thinking about Mr D's passport. Now that everything settled and we didn't have to go to Malaysia High Comm, we decided to use today to explore Wellington instead.

We will not be stopping for lunch, so we will rely on what we eat for breakfast to sustain us till dinner. Am blessed because Kak CM packed some halal sausages the day before for us, so I prepared simple bread, sausages, raw cabbage eaten with sauces. And Kak CM also gave us a bottle of manuka honey, since she noticed Mr D was not well and advised him to eat the honey with cinnamon powder. Apparently, this combination is good for cold. I later did a search in google and found out about the power of remedy these two ingredients have, interesting!

Our first destination of the day was to Te Papa museum. Notice how I love museum? Hahaha.. Te Papa is New Zealand's national museum, it collects the treasure of the land, from culture to history to environment, including the history of Maori. For those who love to know about New Zealand, it is really worth visiting. We spent about 3 or 4 hours in there exploring the collection.

There's no entrance fee to the museum, but visitors are welcomed to donate. There are many collection boxes located in each floor of the museum. By the way, there are six floors in the museum, including cafe and gift shop, so it is really a lot to explore. And I found this museum to also be very children friendly, there are many interactive programs provided for children (and adults like me) to play with, which is fun at the same time educational.

One of the things we can find in Te Papa is the giant colossal squid, which was there in the museum since 2007. This squid was caught by a group of fishermen by accident in the sea somewhere near Antarctica, who later donated the squid to the museum. The squid is so huge and there's also an interesting video to show how the squid was accidentally caught by the fishermen. And it is also interesting that this type of squid nibbles its prey into tiny pieces as it can only ingest small mouthful. Why? BECAUSE ITS NARROW THROAT PASSES THROUGH ITS NARROW BRAIN SO A BITE TOO LARGE CAN LEAD TO BRAIN DAMAGE! Poor.. poor squid.

Other collections in Te Papa is notably very interesting, Maori history especially, but we were not allowed to take pictures of it. It also has a lot of information about the nature including the earthquake in New Zealand. Really interesting and worth a visit.

After spending few hours in Te Papa, we spent our time going around the city. Wellington is a harbor city, with hills around the waterfront. So it is normal to see civilisation on the hilly terraces. It looks a bit like Hong Kong, I would say. One notable feature is the wind, it is so strong it can blow your spectacles. This blowing spectacles incident happened to Mr D long time ago while he was still studying, and that's the story he repeated to me time and again when he talk about Wellington hahahaha.

We then drove up the Wellington Botanic Garden, which is accessible from many entrance. It is located next to the cable car station, so it is also accessible by taking cable car. But what we did the other day was to drive up to the top to the main entrance, parked the car at the parking lot nearby (there's a 120 minutes parking nearby) and start our exploration from there.

The first thing we will be able to see is the view of Wellington from the top of the hill. The hill is not that high, but it is enough for us to view part of the city.

We walked down through the flower-marked path provided in the botanic garden, down to the city. It took about 50 minutes from the hill till we reach the city, but it was not tiring as we went down the hill and the weather was very good. Plus, the view is also beautiful.

The path from Botanic Garden will lead us straight to the city centre, through the garden and cemetery. Wellington, like other major city like Auckland and Hamilton, is not busy - not as hectic as KL is at least. Our plan was to find the cable car station which is located at Lambton Quay to go back up the hill and get our car. One thing lacking is because it was hard to find a signboard which will lead us to the cable car station.

With the help from the local, we finally reached the place leading to the cable car station, marked with a post with small cable car replica on top of it. Turn out the station itself is not visible from the main road, we had to go through a small path leading to the cable car station. The cable car is similar to what we can see in Hong Kong, but the journey up the hill was much shorter and the hill wasn't as steep. It had two stops, the first is at Victoria University and the final stop is near the entrance to the Botanical Garden.

We then drove up to Mt Victoria located not far from there. Mt Victoria is a prominent hill within Wellington, and it looks very much like the drive up to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, with the exception that there's no Sky Terrace on top. But they do provide the lookout point on top for us to admire the harbor city of Wellington. The wind was blowing quite strongly from up there, and Mr D told me that there's where the wind blew his spectacles in the past.

From Mt Victoria, we then head back to the city centre, where we walked around the shop and observing how the city is like. We found 3 Malaysian Restaurant, the Satay Kajang restaurant (which is opened 5pm onwards), Malaysian snacks and street food restaurant (which is not halal) and another Cinta Malaysian Kitchen (also opened 5pm onwards). I noticed that many of the restaurants are opened 5pm onwards. We later takeaway kebab for our dinner that night and head back to our motel.

We will be leaving early the next morning to catch our ferry crossing over to South Island, so we settled all the check out procedure at night. The original booking rate when I booked was NZD150 per night, but while Mr D and the owner were chatting, the owner suddenly changed the rate to NZD130 per night, so all in all we saved NZD40 from what we had budgeted earlier. He said he increased the price because of Rugby World Cup, but now decided to give us the normal rate.. yayy!!

Next : Crossing over to South Island

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