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1,400 Kilometers for Easter: Part 2

And we’re back.

If you missed part 1, you can read it here:

http://www.ifsa-butler.org/blog/?p=15237

If you choose not to do so…that’s fine too.  It’s not like that would hurt my feelings or anything.  I’m not crying.  I promise.  Just read the rest of this blog, I’ll be fine.

On Easter (EARLY) morning, we took a shuttle bus to the airport in Christchurch, to catch our flight to Wellington, the nation’s capital.  Funny thing about Wellington, they have this in their airport:

golem

Also, this is what you see when you land there.

middle-of-middle-earth
They take air-travel VERY seriously here.

Clearly, Wellington (also known as Welly-wood) loves Lord of the Rings.  I have a confession to make, but you musn’t tell anyone or I may face deportation:  I’ve never seen a single Lord of the Rings film.  You see, they came out around the same time as the Harry Potter movies.  Seeing as I was already reading the Harry Potter books at this time, I found myself only able to devote myself to one magicaly-inspired-franchise at a time, and well… Harry won.  All the same, I appreciate Wellington’s pride and enthusiasm in the LOTR series, and was inspired to visit the Weta Cave.  This place is home to Weta Digital, a company started by Peter Jackson, which as done the digital effects for films such as ‘I, Robot,’ The Chronicles of Narnia,’ ‘Avatar,’ ‘X-Men: The Last Stand,’ ‘The Avengers,’ and of course, every ‘Lord of the Rings’ film.  While this list and the work of Weta are rather impressive, the Weta Cave was….basically a glorified gift shop.

Well, as it would turn out, that was the ONLY disappointing part of Wellington, which would end up tying for first place for my favorite place in New Zealand (we’ll talk about the contender in my next blog).

Over the course of our stay in Wellington, we were lucky enough to do some pretty awesome things.  Examples of such include:

  • Petting Red Pandas at the Wellington Zoo –  The zoo in itself was really great.  It is about the same size as zoos I’ve been to in the United States with far fewer animals.  While this sounds disappointing at first, it also means that each group of animals are allotted a greater amount of space, and leaves more room for attractions and information relating to the exhibited animals.  And of course, we booked a ‘close encounter’ with these little guys.

red-panda

D’aww!

  • Taking a tour of the beehive- 
    No, not that kind of beehive.  It’s just a nickname for one of the parliamentary buildings.  We were able to see (and sit) where all of New Zealand’s legislation is dealt with!  Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed inside the building, so here’s one from the outside:

beehive

The resemblance is uncanny.

  • Watching a film in Peter Jackson’s movie theater – Yes, the LOTR director owns a movie theater, and it’s called the Embassy.  Every LOTR film premiered there.  Unbeknownst to Sam and myself, it’s also a severe understatement to say that this place is ‘fancy.’  With its solid marble interior, gourmet concession bar, actual wine and champagne bar, and leather upholstered seats, the place screams ‘class’ in a very sophisticated manner.  As we never got the memo informing us of the hoighty-toighty nature of the place, we went in seriously underdressed.  That’s right – everyone else there was dressed to the nines, suits, dresses, the works.  Regardless, I don’t think people judged us too seriously, and we had a great time!

embassy

Snaazzzy!

  • Climbing Mt. Victoria – Once you reach the summit of this small mountain, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of all of Wellington.  Getting to the top is a rather different story.

All in all, Wellington was really fantastic.  I think my favorite part about it is that it is a city without the whole ‘big city’ kind of feel to it.  There is a strong sense of community and shared identity among people in Wellington, which does not come at the price of sacrificing all of the entertainment attractions in most other cities.  My only critique – the wind is ridiculous.

We said our goodbyes to this lovely city and boarded an overnight bus to Auckland on the other side of the North Island, which was to be our last stop before returning home to Dunedin.  ‘A bus’ has taken the lead on my list of ‘Worst Places to Sleep, Ever.’

Anyway, we arrived in Auckland(home to about a third of New Zealand’s population) in the early morning.  We stayed with our Kiwi-host (Lydia)’s family, as she is from Auckland originally.  Throughout our stay we were introduced to new and exciting things like the feijoa fruit, ‘black sand’ on the beaches of Karekare, and the world of mountain biking.  We were also fortunate enough to see American rock group Wilco play a show in a quaint little venue in the city.

feijoa

black-sand

wilco

Well, this concluded our Easter Break.  The only thing left to do was to take a few  buses to the airport and fly home.  We left nearly three hours early for the trip that was to take a half of an hour (we’re very punctual people).  However, we learned the hard way that Auckland’s transportation system is less than reliable, as a variety of buses arrived significantly later than scheduled, or simply didn’t show up at all, causing us to arrive at our flight gate 9 minutes after the last-call for check in.  This forced us to wait an entire 24 hours for the next flight.  Normally, this would have been rather upsetting to me, but this trip had affected me and my happiness that I didn’t even care.  It was all part of the adventure.  The adventure continues.

bed

…and so do the backpains!

Take care,
~Jake

 

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