The drive from River Valley to Wellington was a long one. Having arrived at the Hostel at 7pm all groggy from the bus journey, a few of us headed out to grab some dinner followed by an early night.
The following morning we were all particularly excited because we had a rare ‘Free’ day - meaning we had no activities planned and we could do whatever we wanted in the Windy City…This resulted in a lie in, followed by a girly brunch, followed by shopping!! ‘You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl’…or whatever the saying is. Surprisingly I managed to practice some Jedi level self control and restrained to only buying stamps to send my postcards home, Veronica 1 - Temptation 0!
Albeit being in my element, I started to feel a little guilty to be spending my time in a new city looking at shoes and bags. It kind of felt like I was going against an unwritten ‘Backpacker’ codex. With the burden of judgment weighing on my sunburnt shoulders, I split up from the group and headed to the most cultural place in town - The Te Papa Tongarewa, also known as the Museum of New Zealand.
Te Papa Tongarewa
The Te Papa Tongarewa is the National Museum of New Zealand. It is situated near the water front and with FREE entry, it makes for a really nice stop before or after a walk down the the Harbour.
The museum is particularly famous because it holds the Treaty of Waitangi - The Funding document of New Zealand signed by the British Crown and the Mãori people in 1840.
The collections on display include Art, History, Pacifc, Mãori and Natural environment. I spent about 3 hours walking around, but you could easily spend a lot longer than that. The whole Musum is pretty cool, I really liked learning about the New Zealand environment, animals, earth quake history as well as the Mãori History and Culture. Overall, the sections I personally enjoyed the most were:
THE COLOSSAL SQUID
The colossal Squid is the largest invertebrate on the entire Planet! And the one at the Te Papa is the only one on display in the entire world..kind of cool to get to see it. As you can see above, the squid is kept in preservation in a huge tank. It looks like something you would expect to see in the ‘Alien’ films, I certainly wouldn’t want the 'rare opportunity' to come across one of these in the middle of the ocean.
As well as the informative signs, there was a short video showing how difficult it was to transport, examine and preserve the creature so that the rest of the world could see it. Total Geek alert - But this is why I love Museums!
THE TREATY OF WAITANGI
The original Treaty of Waitingi was signed on the 6th February 1840. British representatives spend 7 months working on getting as many Maori Chiefs as possible to sign the treaty. The reasons for signing the treaty varied, some Chiefs signed hoping it would protect Mãori rights, others wanted control over Mãori land sales and European settlement, others looked to boost trade with the europeans and many sought to end intertribal fighting.
Missionaries like Henry Williams and William Williams wanted to protect the Mãori people and believed that New Zealand becoming a British Colony would solve the problem. Unfortunately, the Treaty which had to be translated from English to Mãori has caused a lot of disagreement and unsettlement over the years as the Mãori translation is not a true reflection of the english document, resulting in many Mãori people believing they were disadvantaged by the agreement.
After a few hours soaking up some culture, I headed to the last floor of the Museum which is a sun terrace with some pretty stunning views of the waterfront. Something I had not anticipated was that wearing a dress in a place called ‘The Windy City’ and then heading out on the roof of the building was perhaps not the best of ideas. I was quickly punished for my poor choice of outfit, when, a gust of wind blew my dress up gifting onlookers with a Marilyn Monroe esque display…or so I thought, until I realised I was wearing my comfy traveller/Bridget Jones knickers. Nice One Veronica!
To cheer me up following the above mentioned embarrassing episode (any excuse will do), myself and a few others headed for dinner at Wagamama. Being a true Wagamama worshipper I had done my research and found out that there a 3 restaurants in New Zealand. One in Auckland, one in Christchurch and one in WELLINGTON whoop whoop! Admittedly, it didn’t taste nowhere near as good as the one back in the UK, but it curbed my Waggas craving.
There is a lot more you can do in Welly, and in hindsight I probably should have at least gone up the Gondola to get some nice views of the city. But, in all honesty it felt so good to have a more relaxed day that I don’t even regret my choices. Tomorrow we are all up at 6am again to catch the Ferry across to the South Island. The North Island has been pretty amazing and I can’t wait to see what the other half of New Zealand has to offer!