02.10.17. A letter to my adult sons summarizing Leah's & my trip to Wellington:
Sunday: Parked our car at Timaru airport for the week. Sunny flight Timaru - Wellington. Grand views of snowy Alps, farms, roads & Pacific. Flying over Christchurch, we saw the quakes' red zone along Avon River & how CERA had demolition gutted Christchurch - great swathes of green - Avon loop where you'd flatted Jake - Dallington, Horseshoe Lake, Bexley...
From Wellington airport, bussed to CBD. Checked in Cambridge Hotel, Cambridge Tce, near Queen Victoria statue. Wandered Courtenay Pl, Dixon St, Manners St, mingling with tourists & locals. Lots of cafes, restaurants, hoboes & barber shops. New World shopped, Wakefield St near our hotel.
Monday: Stormy. Te Papa, Our Place. Meals at museum cafe. First floor, I disliked the Gallipoli exhibition glorifying war, a couple of giant ANZAC soldier statues, few artefacts, a series of wall photos & descriptions. Top floor, I preferred the Darkness & Light, Maori exhibition, better Maori artefacts & descriptions. I gave short shrift to a bearded volunteer trying to explain Waitangi Treaty to me. I said: "I'm deaf. You're wasting your time!"
Tuesday: Stormy. Visited Wellington Museum, Jervois Quay - Harbour Board bldg, old wooden warehouse. Interesting 100 Years exhibition & artefacts. We ham steered an old sailing ship's wooden wheel & sat on giant, wooden, Harbour Board chairs. Lunch at Mojo cafe, escaping the rain. Visited old, wooden St Pauls church, near Parliament. Explored Parliament bldgs, incl the Beehive. Saw Minister Brownlee scuttling off behind the Beehive. Ilam constituents re-electing him daft, due to CERA excessive, post quake demolitions, EQC & CBD Blueprint debacles & delays.
Wednesday: Cloudy & cool. Walked Leah along Vivian St to her teacher conference at QC Hotel, Cuba St. QC Hotel was built on Salvation Army land as Peoples Palace 1904. Enlarged 1906. Revamped, enlarged again 2003. Reopened by PM Helen Clarke as Trekkers Hotel. I mingled with tourists and locals along Cuba Street, a death trap in future quakes, due to old, quake prone bldgs, loose brick walls, facades & parapets. Whenever I wandered Cuba St I got that creepy feeling I felt post Christchurch quakes near dangerous bldgs.
By Lambton Quay, caught the Cable Car to Botanic Gdns. Grand view of Wgtn. Lovely tulip show at main gates. Botanic labels few throughout. Cafe supper, Cuba St, crap steak.
Thursday: Walked Leah to QC Hotel. Visited War Memorial below Massey University. Found Gallipoli, Simpson & Henderson, stretcher bearers' & donkey statue on War Memorial steps. I'd seen it 23 years ago, forgot how small it was, compared to the giant War Memorial tower. Didn't pay ripoff admission fee to the Memorial Museum. New WW1 unknown soldier's grave at top of War Memorial steps, black polished granite.
Across War Memorial square, new ANZAC Memorial: raw red stone columns, Australian ground, amongst grey flagstones, NZ ground. Polished, grey granite panels on the red columns, engraved with ANZAC campaigns & aborigine carvings. Visited Wgtn Art Gallery & Library. Leah had teachers' supper at Te Papa. I dined at McDonald's, Courtenay Pl.
Friday: Walked Leah to QC Hotel. I breakfasted at Felix Cafe, bottom of Cuba St. Snapped CBD pics. Some bldg windows were boarded due to recent Kaikoura quake. Also old, brick bldgs with EARTHQUAKE PRONE BUILDING, yellow stickers. A 6 storey, modern bldg was being demolished near the Beehive, similar design to the CTV bldg which lethally collapsed during the 22.02.11 Christchurch quake. Halfwit Wgtn was slow to learn Christchurch quake lessons.
Saw opening ceremony, Maori Darkness & Light exhibition, Te Papa: PC history - Good Maori natives, bad Euro colonials. Many Maori in traditional costumes, dancing & singing. Some male dancers with spiral tattoos on their naked bums. Wondered if they knew how similar those spirals were to Celtic spirals? Boring speeches on live video near the whare exhibit. No mention on exhibit artefacts about ancient Maori cannibalism.
After Leah's conference ended we sunny afternoon wandered Oriental Pde, grand harbour & caldera hill views. Plenty joggers & beautiful people, same as I saw 23 years ago when I'd freedom camped there below Norfolk pines. Supper at Pasha Cafe, Dixon St, with a Korean friend.
Saturday: Return flight, Wgtn - Timaru, delayed 2 hours due to Marsden Refinery pipeline break. Jet refuelling took precedence over our small prop plane refuelling. Air crew were embarrassed & apologetic days after the pipeline break. Dumb fuel security organizing by NZ govt & farmer digging up stumps by the pipeline causing the break. Arrived back at Pleasant Point after dark.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.