Getting Cultured in Wellington

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22/01/08
So, I just had my first full day in Wellington, and I must say, I’m quite cultured now! As this is the capital, there is definitely lots of cultural experiences to have here, so I took advantage of several of them. I’ve been getting late starts here, as it’s just so nice to be able to listen to some music, play on the computer, watch TV, use the Internet, do laundry, etc. Funny how you miss even the domestic things when you’re on the road. Well, the other reason I’ve been a little slow here is that the weather hasn’t been super. Have I mentioned the possibility of a cyclone in Wellington? No? Well, that was yesterday, with winds gusting up to 130 km/hr. Travis, the fellow who’s place I’m staying at, and is a lifelong Wellington resident, says he can’t remember Wellington ever being under a cyclone warning. Crazy isn’t it? This is my second one in 2 months though, so I guess I’m pretty used to them myself. Ha ha. Anyway, read on for a little more about what I did for the day in Wellington and don’t forget to check out the map.

Once I finally got out of the house, I headed straight up Mount Victoria, which is basically in the neighbourhood. The summit is 196m, and the views from the top are supposed to be the best place to take in views of Cook Strait, Wellington, and the Hutt Valley. However, as a result of the clouds and blustery weather, my views were limited mainly to the city, but that was still pretty nice, as I could orient myself from there. While on top, the winds really started to pick up, and at one spot, I could hardly stand up against the wind. It was pretty crazy. I couldn’t help but wonder if the laundry I’d hung up in the sun before I left the house would still be there when I returned.

From the mount, I trudged down into town to grab some quick food, and on my way saw a sign for a barber shop in the back of another shop. I walked to the back, asked how much for a #4 shave of my head and face chop as well. The fellow said for me, only 10NZD. Sold. So, as you saw in the flickr picture, I am no longer scary bearded Steve. Sorry Kev. It was fun while it lasted, but this new do might encourage some people to be less scared of the smelly biker 😉 I certainly feel a little naked on my face as a result, but that’s okay. At least now I don’t have to eat leftovers after every meal, and I don’t have the hair curling into my mouth anymore.

After food and the cut, I just embarked on a bit of a walking tour of town, hitting a lot of the sights, and making mental notes for where I’d like to return. There are lots of museums, so picking the ones to visit is key. I also took in a one hour guided tour of the NZ parliament buildings here. Most of my activities are not on film, as they wouldn’t allow cameras to a lot of places, so I have little to share in the way of photos. You’ll just all have to come here yourselves to see them. I also did a bit of shopping along Lambton Quay. Or rather, browsing. I’m looking for a shirt to replace my wrecked one, and think I found one. I’m going to return today and try to barter and get a better deal than what they are asking. Stay tuned for the result.

I also visited the civic gallery, which is a free art gallery featuring different artists all the time. It was nicely laid out, but sadly, I already forget who the artist was that I checked out. I’m sure the Internet could help me out, but I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment. Another cultural thing I did was check out all the theatres for possible shows. I ended up buying a ticket to a show called Paua at the Downstage Theatre, one of Wellingtons longest running professional theatres. There was a mad deal going on where the ticket only cost me 20NZD, and included a talkback session after the show to discuss whatever you wanted to about the show.

The show itself was kiwi-written and concerned kiwi topics. Essentially, it was like watching a CSI / Tarantino film in real life, with a high body count, lots of action, forensic detective work, and plot twists. So what was it about? Well, poachers becoming the poached. The main topic was about poachers that are stealing Paua from the NZ waters and selling them on the black market for profit, and thereby hurting the overfishing industry. A vigilante starts killing the poachers, and even the police get involved, when a detective actually joins up with the vigilante to help, but then takes things too far. It was very clever, and very much made just for that theatre’s design.

The stage itself was most of the theatre, and they used space all around the audience, which was seated all around a central pit area, which you saw in pictures. The pit served as water, a bar, press room, etc. etc. While other areas of the theatre were used for action sequences such as cops abseiling from the ceiling or climbing up the walls. I really enjoyed it, and stayed afterwards to hear peoples thoughts on the subject, as well as questions on the production. What I found most surprising was the stunts the actors were performing. I couldn’t help but think that in Canada they wouldn’t do some of the stuff due to the danger and being unionized in Canada. However, it was great to see. The one funny story is that the director explained that while they are all very safe, and know their way around safely, the same is not true of the audience. Apparently, on opening night, a woman from the audience fell into the pit in the middle of the floor, in spite of the safety barrier in place around it. Man, people sure are dumb, aren’t they?

So, there you have it in a nutshell, my cultural day in Wellington. Today I’ll be doing more cultural stuff, visiting probably the Wellington Museum, as well as finally tackling Te Papa, the New Zealand museum. I’ll also try to fit in a visit to the tram museum if I can. I gotta jet now, as yet again, I’m running late. It’s already past 10:30am! Take care.

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