On the Saturday before classes began, Emma and I took the chance to get out and explore the city before we were bogged down with readings and assignments. We walked downtown for a quintessential Wellington experience: a cable car ride. We paid and hopped on, and as you go up you see the harbor.. somewhat the same view as we see from our dorm location at the top of the hill. Just when we were starting to settle in, the ride was over! Very quick!
At the top of the hill we walked into the tiny cable car museum and then continued back down the hill through the botanical gardens. We plan to go again right before we leave- so that we can see the roses in full bloom. Since it’s the middle of winter here (40s and 50s) nothing is really blooming, although there is lots of green. Below is a picture of the duck pond near the end of the botanical gardens… very peaceful.
After the botanical gardens, we kept heading downtown, passing Parliament (pictured below) and stopping in a cafe to have a bite to eat before the Japanese festival that we wanted to stop in at began. The walk from the botanical gardens to the Parliament building takes you through a historic cemetery, and it was a really interesting walk, to see the tombstones from generations upon generations of Kiwi settlers. The cemetery actually is now split, and some tombstones remain on the side of the highway nearest to Parliament– thousands of bodies were moved to accommodate the highway when it was built.
I love the cafe culture here. I’ll probably mention that again at some point, but I really love how on every corner there is somewhere you can stop in for a good cup of coffee and a bite to eat. At the cafe Emma and I both got lattes and different pastry items, and then just sat and chatted, getting to know each other a bit better- she’s a math major at A&M. After a while we walked over to the Japanese festival- it was packed!
There were traditional Japanese drummers, origami tables, traditional food, and a sushi rolling to create the longest sushi roll in New Zealand. Emma and I tried to see the sushi rolling, but it was really too crowded, so we picked up some vegetarian sushi and went up to the balcony to watch the performers for a while. I have to say, while I love the concept of sushi, I think I’ll be trying to make my own in the future with some key differences! Not totally in love with it. But that’s part of what this trip is about– new experiences, right?