Finally, here we are at Wellington! This was our last stop in New Zealand, and is the capital of this country. Even if it’s not the biggest city of the country, it’s the political capital and also known as the heart of the cultural and artistic life of New Zealand
After our nice little cruise on the Cook Strait (see previous location) we finally reached the city of Wellington. It’s a smaller city compared to Auckland (around 180,000 people live in Wellington while there’s 1.3 million people in Auckland) but it has a very different atmosphere which we appreciated a lot. As it’s not so big, you can easily visit the heart of the city by foot and there’s something very cool and friendly in the attitude of the people. It’s typically the kind of city where you immediately imagine that you could live there. Let me show you some aspects of the city!
1) House of Parliament
As it is the political capital of New Zealand, you have of course, all the institutions located there. And the house of parliament immediately caught our eye by it’s specific round architecture. You can visit it for free, and it’s a very interesting visit as you can see a lot of places inside the parliament, including the chamber itself. And it’s not a surprise to discover that this chamber is exactly the same as the one in London, like all the NZ political institutions which were duplicated from the UK. New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy, and the British Queen Elizabeth II is also Queen of New Zealand. For security reasons you can’t, unfortunately, take pictures inside the building, but it’s a really very instructive and interesting visit!
2) Cuba quarter and around
The heart of the city with a lot of cafés, boutiques, restaurants, and bars is located on Cuba Street. A lot of people are always there, day and night, it’s really the active heart of the city. Close to Cuba quarter you also have a lot of activity in the Lambton quarter and the Courtnay quarter. And these 3 quarters are very close to each other to walk from one to another without needing a car.
3) Te Papa National Museum
There’s another interesting quarter close to the 3 previous ones, the waterfront quarter. As Wellington is located on a huge bay, the waterfront is a place to walk and enjoy and the main attraction of this area is the Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand. The building is very impressive by it’s size showcasing modern architecture. You can’t miss this museum and it’s really a must-visit as there are a lot of different things to see there: from local history and archeology to contemporary art, there are many very different exhibitions shown on the 5 floors of this museum. And if you like modern architecture, don’t hesitate to have a walk around the whole museum building as it changes from one side to another.
4) Wellington Zoo
I’m a big fan of zoos, as a child I was always fascinated by all the animals I could see there, and I still like zoos today, even if it’s to see “wild” animals which aren’t in freedom anymore, but most of them weren’t born in freedom and couldn’t live in their natural environment even if they were free. Thus, I appreciate zoos which have a lot of space to offer to the animals, and that’s the case at the Wellington Zoo. It’s a very big park, south of the city where the animals have a lot of space. Even if this zoo isn’t the most impressive one to see, it’s a nice place to visit. And we finally could see a Kiwi! The “national animal” of New Zealand (as the people of NZ call themselves “Kiwis”) it is very, very difficult to see it in its natural environment, so the zoo was a chance for us to see one before we leave the country. And we saw the one and only Kiwi of the zoo, which has only 1 leg, as he was rescued after falling in a hunter’s trap and cost him his other leg. But this Kiwi seems to be used to it now, and don’t even want the special leg prosthesis that the zoo provided for him.
5) Botanical Garden Park
Another interesting place to visit in Wellington is the Botanical Garden Park, located on the eastern hills of the city. You can take a nice, old cable car on Lambton Quay to reach the Botanical Garden and you’ll also have a nice panoramic view over the whole city and Wellington Bay. This botanical garden is really huge and you can have a walk for several hours through very different kinds of vegetation landscapes, including the giant ferns (which are the symbol of NZ All Black’s rugby team). Going down, to the north of the park allows you to join the city again and land in the House of Parliament area.
And last but not least, a useful information about film processing in Wellington: as I had a lot of exposed rolls in my bag, I wanted to have them processed before I return to Polynesia, and thought it could be quicker and cheaper to do it in Wellington. I searched a bit, and I found a very good lab I can recommend to any lomographer in Wellington. It’s a lab called Wellington Photographic Supplies on Vivian Street, and they’re very “lomo-friendly” as they really know about film processing, analogue cameras, and even sell some Lomo cameras! So, when I arrived with my 40 rolls of film, they gave me a very good price on each (but I don’t remember the exact price though) and processed them for the next day!
That’s it! Our adventures in New Zealand has now come to and end but before our flight home to French Polynesia. We had 4 fantastic weeks in this country, mainly in the south island, but we will go back to New Zealand for sure! And if you get the chance to visit this amazing country on the other side of the world, just go for it!