Day Three and Onward in Aotearoa: Wellington

Having arrived on the day-long train from Auckland, I pretty much got to the hostel, unpacked my stuff, and collapsed. Jet lag was rearing its ugly head, though I find that the bigger the time difference, the less jet lag I have. Austin-Wellington is a seventeen-hour difference, so I didn't feel that bad. Just tired.

Photo of my hostel room

My (very) humble abode, complete with bathroom down the hall and 60-degree temperatures on a warm day. But it's cheap, and quiet, and has a bar downstairs, so I'm really not complaining.

My first shock was how cold the hostel room was. Freezing, really. A quick check of the thermometer on my travel alarm clock confirmed that it was colder than I'd been indoors since I'd figured out how to just turn up the heat when my parents told me to "just go put on a sweater": fifty-nine degrees. After the Texas heat, this was quite a shock. I slept in my pyjamas, sweatshirt, coat and scarf that first night.

Photo of downtown Wellington
A shopping centre (the -re takes getting used to) on my way to the library.
Photo of downtown Wellington
Another shopping centre, in the old national bank building. And look - cars on the wrong side of the road!

The next day, I suggested to the hostel staffer on duty that perhaps the heater in my room needed to be turned up, or fixed, or something. They were appalled that I'd had to sleep in my coat, but found nothing wrong with the heater. And they're all centrally regulated, so there's no way to turn the heat up in just one room. I had not yet realized that Kiwis, by and large, do not believe in heating. In this sense they appear to be rather more closely related to the Geordies than I would like. I asked for three extra blankets, and that, along with acclimation, seemed to do the trick. Now I wake up in the mornings toasty warm. Seriously!

Photo of parliament
Buildings in the Parliament complex. One of the buildings, no doubt, is Parliament. My money's on the one on the left.
Photo of parliament
It just looks parliamentary, doesn't it?
Photo of Beehive
The Beehive, architectural symbol of Wellington, and an odd-looking structure by any accounts.
Photo of Beehive
And again, from another angle.

I haven't had much of a chance to do any sightseeing yet, since I've been spending most of the day at the National Library, researching 19th-century contact between Maori and other indigenous peoples. I've come across some interesting sources, and have just heard that some Cherokee came to New Zealand in the 19th century and settled here, a story I have to track down.

Photo of National Library
The National Library is the building in the middle here, and where I've been spending my days
Photo of Wellington parliamentary complex
View of the Beehive from the steps of the library.

The library, at least, is right across from the Parliament complex, so I've seen that, and the war memorial, which is also on the way from the hostel to the library. (It's a half hour walk between the hostel and library, so I do get to see quite a bit of the city on my way!) Also on the way - and very close to the hostel - are an Adult Exclusive Entertainment store (which advertises its sales of FemCreme... I don't even want to know...), a gaudily-decorated gentlemen's club, a place featuring "Playgirls" complete with a scantily-clad mannequin in the window, and what the billboard assures me is "Wellington's finest strip club." If I can't stand waiting until My Boy gets here, I guess I have options...

Photo of war memorial
The war memorial, commemorating those killed in WWI and WWII.
Photo of downtown Wellington
The war memorial looking a little less imposing.

I'm also still getting used to the left-side-of-the-road driving, which is considerably more disconcerting than the mannequin advertising for playgirls. Crossing the street, I look each way about 4 times. Look right - no, wait, am I supposed to look right? They drive left - but is my right their left? Better look left. No, wait, it was right, ok, look right. But wait, is this a one way? Because I don't see a yellow line. Hey, do they even have yellow lines here? I haven't seen any. So I should look left, and then right again, just in case. And left once for good luck... and, wait, right is the way I need to look.... If I'm lucky someone else is crossing nearby, so I can just follow them and cut the head-turning short.

Photo of downtown Wellington
Part of my path to the library
Photo of downtown Wellington
Detail of the picture above - a billboard of the white nationalist party. "Treaty costs" refers to obligations to Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi. Anti-immigrant and anti-Maori sentiment is apparently alive and well; I've seen several of these billboards. Or maybe it's so down that they need to advertise for it...?
Photo of downtown Wellington
View of the city from the library.

So that's Wellington, for now. Hopefully, I'll be taking some kind of interesting day trip this weekend, when the archives and library are closed, but we'll see. Anyway, that's three photo-heavy posts in three days, which is more than enough!


July 9, 2003

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