We had arrived in Wellington by bus from Whanganui in the early afternoon to go straight on a little sightseeing tour through town. Wellington — also known as the Windy City — is the capital of New Zealand, but it has not always been this way. When the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in February 1840 the town of Russel, located at Ikiato in the Bay of Islands, was made the first capital of the new country. But already in September the same year they began to build the new capital on the ground formerly known as Tāmaki-makau-rau, which means Tāmaki of the hundred lovers, now known as Auckland, as Auckland was in a more favorable place than Russel. But still it proved hard for the members of the council from the South Island to get to Auckland for meetings of the council, and the South was having the upper hand on the North by the 1860th as gold had been found there. Eventually a commission of three of Australia’s governors was appointed to select the site of the new capital and their choice fell on Wellington, because of Wellington’s capabilities in terms of being in a central position, good capabilities of defense, and the resources of the surrounding county.
We got our first real look at Wellington when we climbed on the top of Mount Victoria. From here you get a great view across town but you also can experience why the city is called a “windy city.”
Visiting the Weta Studios
After our round trip it was time to settle down into our new hotel and to explore the city on our own, so I headed off to the Weta Studios, which has been responsible for building many of the props for the New Zealand-made movies. I took the chance of getting a tour through their actual workshop, where many of the props were on display, and was stunning that even from a close look it was not possible for the untrained eye to spot that shields had not been build out of wood…but of urethane. But of course they won’t allow you to take any pictures as their actual work is shown there too, and is supposed to be a secret until the film that it is made for is released. Too soon it was time to return to the hotel to meet up with our group to go to dinner.
The Te Papa Museum – worth to spend a day or two
My second day in Wellington I spent mostly at the Te Papa Museum, a six floor museum about the history of New Zealand – from dinosaurs to modern times. It is a modern museum that not only has exhibits on display but offers some activities to learn more and truly experience the history of New Zealand. After I had completed the first floor and the little outside area, I was ready to find something to drink and take a break when I met Solo, who asked me if he could join me for the visit of the museum. So the first stop we made was one of the three cafes of the museum, before spending the rest of the day on the other floors — including two more stops at cafes and one at the museum shop. I don’t think I would have had the energy to visit the entire museum on my own, but once I got the company of a friend it was so much more fun, so I am glad we met there. Again I cannot show the photos that I took in the museum, but I can show a photo of a sculpture, built by Rewi Thompson in 1991, which I found on my way to the museum.
Te Aho a Māui means the fishing line of Māui. Māui is a hero from Māori mythology. Te Aho a Māui refers to the Māori creation myth, where Māui, using the jawbone of his ancestor Muri-ranga-whenua as a fish hook, hauled up a great fish from the ocean, which became the North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The North Island is also known as Te-Ika-a-Māui, meaning the fish of Māui. Te Aho a Māui is a pyramid, representing a mountain, split in two. The paved walkway between the two sides of the pyramid represents Māui’s fishing line, unravelling from the mountain to the sea.