Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 12 - Wellington

July 12 - Wellington

I woke up this morning around 7:30 AM. The free lunch was from 7 AM-9 AM, so I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to eat a lot. Around 6:30 AM it sounded like a herd of elephants were coming up and down the stairs.

Apparently a lot of people are staying in the hostel and many of them are students or foreigners in New Zealand working. That is a really common thing to do in New Zealand and Australia and they tend to be in the cities, which is why the few hostels we have stayed at in Christchurch, Dunedin, and Wellington have been full of these types of people.

I had to try and be quiet when I got up because of the two girls sleeping in our room. I didn’t want to be rude and wake them up. I put in my contacts in the dark. It was pretty hard to get them out of the case, but it was easy to put them in. I put on my shoes and went to the kitchen.

There was a few loafs of bread, butter, and three kinds of cereals too choose from. They were rice crispies, corn flakes, and some oat bars. I toasted two pieces of bread and put butter and our jelly on them, and then ate a bowl of corn flakes. I also grabbed the oat bar thinking it would be good. It tasted like horse food. It was pretty gross and had no flavor at all. I had a cup of hot chocolate as well.

I went back for seconds. I made two more pieces of toast. I went back in the room to get it. I made a second cup of hot chocolate too. It was a big breakfast, but it was free. That’s what they get for offering so much. There were a couple of other people eating too, but only one of them seemed like they took the free stuff.

I was going to try to get on the internet, but the computer didn’t seem to be on or working. I’m not sure which. I was done eating and ready to go start the day. We wanted to go up the cable car to the botanical gardens and then go to the Te Papa Museum, and if there was time go up to Mt. Victoria for a lookout over the city, it is the highest point in Wellington.

We left the hostel at 8:15 AM. We walked for about 20 minutes to get to the cable car entrance. The city was pretty busy for having only 160,000 people. There were a lot of people out walking around and most of them looked like they were headed to work. It was still the school holiday so that may explain why so many people were out, including younger people.

At the cable car we had to pay to go up. It was $3.50 to just go up, but $6 round trip. It was a pretty steep hill to climb up and since it was a historic cable car we figured we would go up rather than walk. We also thought that since we would be walking across town to the museum and Mt. Victoria that we would rather ride down as well. We paid the $6 to do so.

We had to wait a few minutes and it looked like it was just going to be us and two Asian guys going up to the top. It was early and nobody was there. When the cable car showed up a huge crowd of people walked in. Most of them seemed like they were college students going to class. There is a college near the top of the car that is just a short walk from one of the three stops.

The ride to the top took about 7 minutes. It wasn’t very far, but it has a Swiss style design where there are two cars, one going up and one going down. They are somehow connected to each other under the tracks that propels one up while the other is going down. We experienced a few of those when we were in Switzerland. Therefore, if one of the trains had to stop to load or drop people off then the other had to stop. There was only one track except for in the middle. At that point the trains diverge onto separate tracks and pass each other by.

At the top there was a small museum dedicated to the history of the cable car and a botanical garden. We wanted to do the botanical garden, which is free, so we looked at a map and grabbed a brochure to figure out where we wanted to go.

The maps didn’t make lots of sense. There were a number of routes we could take and the place was huge. It was set up more like a park, and mostly consisted of plants and trees, not flowers like I was expecting. At the top it just looked like it was a forest. I saw no flowers at all. The gardens themselves were on the side of a hill that followed far enough led back down to the city. Had we realized that we may be walking all the way back down to the city while seeing the gardens we may not have bought the round trip ticket after all.

Looking at the map we decided we didn’t want to see some of the parts of the garden due to time and location. We wanted to see the Rose Garden mostly and a few random stops along the way. There was a rock garden, which I figured may look like a Japanese Garden so I wanted to see that. There was also a Tree House that I thought may be neat as well.

We decided on the best route without having to back track too often. Before we started on our way down we went to a small overlook and got some pictures of the city. It was slightly hazy from the sunlight, but it was still pretty good.

The path we ended up following led us to an observatory. I think it was called an atrium. It didn’t open until 9 AM and it cost money so we didn’t want to go inside anyway. After looking at it for a few minutes from the outside we decided to go down the hill to an overlook.

I thought we were going to get views of the gardens from a high angle, but instead we got views of a forest and some houses on a hill. It wasn’t really the view I was looking for, but the houses were cool. The homes were built on the sides of hills similar to homes in other cities we had seen on this trip such as Queenstown, Dunedin, and many more. It’s the same thing as in other coastal cities around the world as well.

We continued down the trail and took a route through a forest rather than the random path that walked down a gravel road. There was an Australian garden, but it only included a few small little plants next to the trail with small labels underneath them. It wasn’t very impressive.

The forest we walked through was really dark from all the trees. It was a nice short walk though. Looking on the map I thought there should be a rock garden somewhere nearby, but I didn’t see anything that looked like a garden with rocks. It looked more like a lot of small native bushes.

At this point we had two options. They were to go up the trail to a hill, which we didn’t know what was up there, or go down to the Tree House and look for the Rock Garden. We thought we should go down to the Rock Garden because the other way was steeper, bypassed some of the other things we wanted to see, and looked hard to find.

This garden was like a maze. We got lost a number of times and had no clue where we were. It seemed like a great place to have a pit stop for the Amazing Race or even a task. Without a map it is really hard to know where things are, and even then it’s tough since everything looks the same. The areas aren’t marked very clearly and only some of the areas are even marked on the trail markers at all.

The markers mention certain things, but there are a number of ways to reach them so it’s possible to think something is on a particular route and then realize it’s not the part of the trail you thought. It’s the type of place that would need to be visited in order to understand.

We saw some fern trees on the side of the trail and took pictures of them. We had already gotten lots of pictures of these trees on other trails, but for the first time we were actually above the tree due to the trail and we could look down on them from the top. The stalk is similar to a palm tree, and the leaves look like a fern, but they branch out in a way from the top that there is a middle portion that looks like a deep cup. If it was strong enough it would be a spot where a person could sit down.

We made it down to the Tree House and wanted to get our bearings straight. We thought that the area we just passed was the Rock Garden, but it didn’t look like it to me. There were a few historic buildings that used to be used as a kitchen, stable, and bathrooms for workers in the area during the Great Depression.

There were also a lot of Chinese plants. One type of tree created enough tea to sustain the western world for a year. That seemed amazing to me. I don’t remember ever seeing the actual tree, but maybe I did and just didn’t know what I was looking at. I didn’t care enough to go look it. I really just wanted to go to the bathroom. You can probably guess where I ended up going. I watered the garden.

The tree house and visitor center were also here. The tree house was just a tower with vines growing down the sides of it and said “Tree House.“ Not much of a tree house. We walked back up the trail in a different direction and came to a desert area. There were lots of plants that are common in the American southwest. There were a number of cactus plants, rocks, and colorful flowers scattered around.

Instead of grass or dirt as the base layer to the plants there was rocks. This was probably my favorite area. It made me want to start a garden and use rocks. I have seen that type of yard in Arkansas, but nowhere else. It’s pretty cool to me. I really liked the cactus plants the best. There was one in particular that was small like a bush, but it looked like no cactus I had seen before.

I’m not even sure if it was a cactus, but it had spikes on it so it seems like it should be. It had pointy plates that were forming a spiral shape. It started out wide and then became a tighter spiral the closer to the middle. On the sides of each pedal were small spikes. The tips were pointy too. They were probably 1 ½ feet wide and about 1 foot tall.

It was a really peaceful spot on the side of the hill too. We spent a lot of time in this part. We went back down to the Tree House to see where the Rose Garden was. When looking at the map things looked far, but like the city of Wellington everything was close together. It was a huge garden/park area, but things were still on top of each other.

We noticed a Fern Garden sign so we followed that. Like everything else it was a short trail that had a few fern trees lining the sides. These were just Fern Trees and other ferns that we have seen all over New Zealand. One of them had a long snail shaped branch. These are common to see in Maori art work. The branches on the Fern Trees are rolled up before they bloom, and then they spread out into the large leaves. I guess bloom is the proper terminology. I’m not really sure.

Just passed the Tree House was a fragrance garden. Usually I don’t care for the smell of flowers, but these smelled really good. As we walked in we could smell a sweet smell from some plant and they just continued to smell good as we walked on. There were probably only 4 or 5 different types of plants in this garden. As we walked through there I could see a fountain down the hill to our left. I wanted to walk down there and get some pictures so that’s the way I went. Andy was still taking pictures.

The trail at this point was right near the street. A brick fence with metal iron lined the edge of the park. The fountain had a statue in the middle that looked like cupid holding something on his shoulder. It actually was similar to a fountain we had seen in Montevideo, Uruguay a few years ago. Wellington was reminding me of a lot of cities we had been to in other countries all combined into one.

After a few pictures of the trail, fountain, and interesting light poles we walked down to a duck pond. The pond was really small and had a gazebo next to it. There were lots of ducks in the pond, but due to the brightness from the sun shining on the gazebo and the trees blocking the sunlight on the pond, it made it hard to get good pictures.

As we were getting pictures a bunch of little girls came running into the gazebo and yelling about there being ducks. We had seen enough and went the other way back towards the fountain and the direction of the Rose Garden. There was an entrance to the botanical gardens in this direction. We passed that entrance and turned to the right up a hill through the Pine Forest Garden. There were a few pine trees, but nothing too extraordinary.

Just passed this was an herb garden. We stumbled upon it by accident. I knew it was on the map, but didn’t know what it would be like. It was basically a garden that might be in someone’s yard. Each plant was labeled. Many of them were common ingredients that would be seasonings in food. It was really small and we moved onto the Rose Garden.

There was one more look out that we went too before the Roses. This lookout was slightly way better than the previous one. The view was of the Rose Garden below and the college and a few other random buildings in the city. We took a few pictures and then walked down the trail to the garden below.

There were basically no roses at all. The stems were all cut so all we saw was an area in the shape of a big circle with dead plants. It looked like it would be really cool based on the size and shape, but for winter time there wasn’t much to see. In the middle there was an elaborate fountain. I did a 360 degree photo that looked like it will turn out all right. A few spots were tough due to the sun being in the way, but it will be fine.

There were a couple of roses growing on the far side of the garden so we got a couple of pictures. The Rose Garden was full of a ton of people. There is a small cafĂ© and green house and a number of people were eating food or drinking coffee. I’m curious if any of these people in Wellington have jobs.

Across the street was another little pond full of ducks. A waterfall was flowing off the hill into it. It was a cool little thing. It had a Chinese lamp post in the middle. I don’t know what it’s called, but we saw them in a lot of ponds in China. Just imagine some Chinese architecture. That’s what it looks like.

I was thinking that the green house cost money, but we thought we would check it out anyway. It ended up being free. It was almost identical to the green house we had seen at the Botanical Gardens in Hong Kong. It might have been smaller, but it had almost the exact same flowers. There were a lot I had never seen before as well though. I went through it pretty fast. It was probably about 25 minutes of taking pictures of lots of flowers. Andy was taking way too long so rather than wait inside I just went to the gift shop. The green house was really hot so I didn’t want to stay in there longer than necessary. Outside it was cold to comfortable for most of the day.

The gift shop was in the middle of the green house. To the left was the flower green house and to the right was the plant green house. The gift shop had some things I thought were worth buying at reasonable prices, but I don’t think most of the things were from New Zealand. Usually if something is cheaper than something that looks identical that is more expensive than the cheap thing is from China. I have been wanting something made in New Zealand, but I haven’t decided what I want yet.

I had seen enough so I went into the second green house right next door. Andy was in there taking pictures. It was just a bunch of plants so rather than get a lot of close up pictures I was mostly taking wide angle shots. There were a few plants from Brazil that had camouflage colors on each leaf. These colors and designs looked identical to something on a G.I. Joe figure. I took close up pictures of these plants.

After about 10 minutes I was done. I went outside and sat on a bench in front of the gift shop. Andy came out a few minutes later covered in sweat. He had spent so long in both green houses that he was getting hot. I told him to go to the gift shop because there were some cool things in there. That gave me a little bit more time to sit down and rest. I pointed out a few things I thought were worth buying, but we got nothing in the end.

 We left the green house area and were ready to go. We were close to the bottom of the city, but because we had the return ticket on the cable car we needed to walk back up to the top of the hill. The route we wanted to go up was a sculpture trail. We saw a sign that said we could go through the forest on a longer, but easier route. It didn’t go by the sculptures though so I didn’t want to go that way.

We couldn’t find the sculpture trail at first. There were no signs that were marking it, and the map wasn’t very good. There were lots of little side trails that we had been seeing all day that weren’t marked on the map or on the trail so we never knew where they led. It was the same when trying to find the proper trail now.

Just passed the duck pond with the waterfall and Chinese lamp I saw a girl walk down a trail. I thought maybe that would take us where we wanted to go. We walked down there and saw a sign. It said that the sculpture trail was steep and may be difficult on some parts. I didn’t care though. I wanted to see the sculptures.

The trail was steep. There were only three sculptures on this trail and they were all dumb. The first one was created by a New Zealander that wanted his art to make people think about what he was trying to create. This piece looked like a human torso. He wanted his art to make people stop and think about what it was because that was the sign of a good piece of art. I looked at it for 3 seconds and moved on. He failed at his strategy.

The art was about 35 yards off the trail in a patch of grass. I just walked up a steep hill and had been walking for the past 4 hours so I was too tired to bother walking over to it. We moved on to the next piece of art.

The next thing we saw was a set of steps carved out of marble-looking material. Each step said a different word. Most of them relating to some positive message. It had a deeper meaning that was explained on a sign, but I don’t remember what it was. It was something about growing in life from birth to death. There were maybe 7 or 8 steps total. I walked to the top of them and then back down. That was the end of the sculptures. Waste of time is what I remember about that steep walk to nowhere.

At the top of the walk there were really good views of the city. We had seen them earlier, but it was cloudy and hazy at that time. We took a few pictures and kept walking back to the cable car station. At the top there were a lot more people now. It was around noon. We had spent nearly 3 ½  ours at the garden and it wasn‘t even that neat.

We went back to the place we originally got pictures of the city below after going to the bathroom, in an actual toilet. A cable car had just arrived and was about to be going down. We wanted to get pictures of it as it left with the city in the background. I got a few good shots I felt.

The cable car leaves every 10 minutes so we had some time to look around before the next one arrived and departed. We decided to go inside the museum since it was small and right next to the station. The original cable car was inside. It was tiny. Next to it was information about the history of the funicular. Basically it was over 100 years old and in it’s early days was popular and needed to be expanded. Over the years it lost favor with the public and was going to be torn down.

After some updates and public pressure it remained. A worker got seriously hurt in the 1970s so they changed the design to the Swiss style. Again it was going to be removed due to safety concerns. Today it is popular among the residents and will most likely be around long-term.

There wasn’t much more to the museum and the cable car was arriving so we left. A lot of people were wanting to get on. It was pretty packed. Andy wanted to be up front to film the ride down so I followed him. A bunch of little kids came to the front as well. It was funny to see Andy standing in the front surrounded by a group of kids about 8-10 years old. He looked out of place.

There was no seating where we were so we had to stand. Andy filmed most of the ride down. Along the way the kids were asking the conductor what each button did. He wasn’t even paying that much attention to what was going on. It seemed like the car just drove itself. He let the kids push the start, stop, and horn buttons. They seemed really excited about that.

At the bottom we got off and went into a souvenir shop. I had seen it earlier, but it wasn’t opened at the time. Everything inside looked neat, but as usual was way too expensive. I was going to have to wait another day before I bought my real New Zealand souvenir. I am mostly wanting something Maori and a carving of some kind would be best.

It was lunch time so we wanted to get something to eat. We planned to go out for lunch since we weren’t spending much money for the day and didn’t want to carry something with us all morning. We had seen a Subway earlier when we were walking so we wanted to go there. We walked through an alley way which led to a mall food court.

It wasn’t very big, but it did have a Subway. We wanted to get a foot long sub and hoped the special sub would be something good. When we first arrived in Christchurch on June 7 the first meal we bought was a Subway sandwich for $7. It was a pork riblet. It wasn’t the best, but it was the cheapest. We were wanting something different and hoped the $7 sub would be something new. At home they change daily, but that wasn’t the case in New Zealand. The cheapest option for a foot long was still the pork riblet.

We figured we would see what else was for sale in the food court. Most of the options were Asian foods. For some reason Asian food is really popular in Wellington. A lot of the restaurants we have seen are Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian. There are large minority groups from those regions leaving here. I wasn’t expecting that at all. There are also a lot of Maori people living in Wellington. The south Island was mostly white people, but the north island so far has a lot more diversity.

There was a Japanese restaurant that offered sushi and a Malaysian restaurant that offered noodle and rice dishes. Both looked good, but we couldn’t decide which was the best deal for the money and which had the most food. Most likely Subway would be the most filling, but I wanted something else.

In the end we bought a package of 8 Sushi California Rolls and the foot long pork riblet. We split both of them. The sushi was really pretty good. It’s not something I ever eat, but to have it occasionally it’s a good change. I put wasabi on a few of mine. It was just a little, but it was extremely hot. It wasn’t hot like it burned my throat or tongue like a normal spicy food would do. Instead it burned my nose. It completely cleared my nose, but was a weird sensation. I don’t think I’ll be eating much wasabi in the future.

We finished lunch just before 1 PM. Our next stop for the day was the Te Papa Museum. I didn’t know much about it, but Andy said it was supposed to be really big and the best in New Zealand. The walk took about 25 minutes. It was just down passed the harbor we have visited the day before.

As we walked along the edge of the harbor we stopped a few times to get pictures. While at the Botanical Gardens I had seen a postcard in the gift shop of places in Wellington. A few of them were art related things at the harbor. The first was a set of round metallic balls and the other was a statue of a guy looking out to the sea.

I didn’t see either of these things the day before so I was curious where they were. As we walked along the water’s edge a lot of people were cycling, running, and walking around. We came across both of these pieces of art. We got pictures of both and another statute of Maori figures. There was a sign in front of it with words in English and Maori. A New Zealand family was looking at it. The mom asked her daughter if she wanted her to read the English or Maori portion. The girl said Maori so that’s what the mom read.

I think they must teach Maori in the schools as a foreign language. It almost seems like it may be required because a lot of the people know Maori words. They may not be fluent, but a lot of the cities, mountains, rivers, and other landmarks have Maori names.

We walked around the back of the Te Papa Museum because we weren’t exactly sure where the entrance was and which building it was at first. We took a few pictures of the front of the building because Andy had seen a photo of it and wanted to get a similar shot. It just looked like a plain building to me.

The museum is free which is nice. Today was Thursday and it stayed open late, until 9 PM. I was thinking we would be there until about 6 PM and then we would go out to eat for dinner. I was wanting to see a section about Maori legends and mythology and possibly something about the history of New Zealand. Pottery and other art would be nice to see too. Since I didn’t know much about the museum I didn’t know if this was even going to be an option.

I was tired of caring my bag around and was hoping there would be a place to store bags. As we walked in a lady was giving her bag to a person to put in a locker. It looked free so I asked if I could put my bag up. She said I could so I handed it over. I was given a tag with a number to keep until I wanted to get my things back. Andy put his bag up too, but kept out his camera. I didn’t think I would be seeing much worth taking pictures of so I didn’t bother keeping my camera.

The museum was huge. It had 6 floors. We didn’t know where anything was so we looked on a board that displayed a map. It looked like floors 1, 2, and 4 had the things I wanted to see. The rest was stuff I didn’t care about. The first floor had a gift shop and an outdoor display. The second floor had things about science. There were displays on the animals of New Zealand, geology of New Zealand, and the impact earthquakes and volcanoes have had on the shaping of these islands.

We spent way too long in this section. There was way too much to read at all of the displays. I didn’t even bother trying because it was so ridiculous. We did look at a million different types of birds, shells, and other New Zealand creatures. For a country with very few animals they sure had a lot in their museum. The best animals they had were a giant squid and the bones of a blue whale. Both of these were huge.

The giant squid display showed movie clips of the squid being dissected and explains how it was discovered. I guess the giant squid is a newly discovered species. The Blue Whale on display was 36 meters long and had been attacked by a group of Killer Whales. It was recovering and ended up being killed. I think it was caught in a propeller of a boat. It was so much information by this point my brain couldn’t take anymore.

There were hundreds of people walking around, many of them little kids. We climbed up a staircase to a fake tree with information about more animals. This was the bird section. Again way too much information that I couldn’t read. I did read two short paragraphs though. Both of them were about lazy birds that manipulate other birds. I don’t recall the names of the birds, but this is basically what they do.

One bird lays it’s egg in the nest of a smaller bird. It will literally kick out the eggs of the other birds and then lays it’s one egg. When it hatches it bosses the unknowing parents around for food. It quickly grows bigger than the birds that are feeding it, but they are good parents so they keep feeding it. When it is big enough it leaves the nest.

The other bird does something similar. I thought it was funny that the bigger birds were so lazy and that the smaller birds couldn’t figure out they were raising something that wasn’t their own.

Some of the other things we saw in the museum were information about earthquakes and how New Zealand was formed. In the U.S. schools always talk about Pangea breaking up to form the continents, but in New Zealand they focus on Gondwanaland. I found that interesting.

I already knew all the information about the earthquakes and plate tectonics, but they had two things I did like. One was a small house with a TV playing news stories from an earthquake that hit the west coast of the South Island in the 1980s. While inside the house the news ends and the house starts shaking at the same force it would have if we were actually experiencing the actual earthquake from the time that destroyed much of the city.

There was also a scale that measured how much vibrations a person could create by jumping on a stand. It was set up similar to the hammer thing that carnivals have, but instead of testing strength from swinging a club it was designed so that a person’s own weight determined the power of the earthquake. As I was reading some of the displays I kept hearing a loud banging, but I didn’t know what it was. It was horribly annoying and I didn’t want to do it at first, but Andy wanted to try so I did too.

I was able to create a vibration equal to a 9.0 earthquake. Andy was able to do the same. I guess we just didn’t weigh enough. It hurt my feet from jumping and landing so hard. After 2 or 3 times I had enough and didn’t want to do it anymore. We went on and read a few more things about volcanoes in New Zealand and their recent eruptions. Mount Rupehu in Tongariro National Park erupts quite frequently and has a few times in the past couple of years. That is where Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings is and our next stop after Wellington.

We had already been there for about 2 hours. The second floor had a ride and a map of New Zealand as well. The ride cost money and I didn‘t want to do it. The map was set up on the floor and was kind of neat, in theory. As we stepped on a portion of the map it would light up and a line would be drawn on the floor and lead to a TV screen on the wall. The screen would then display an image from that region. The picture changed if we stepped off of it and back on again. All of the photos were uploaded by people that took the pictures themselves. There was a website displayed where photos could be uploaded to be displayed there. It was a good idea, but most of the pictures were very bad and low quality.

I was ready to move on so we took the elevator up to the 4th floor. As we walked in there was a kid section, but on the wall was a bunch of potato head characters from movies. I thought it looked interesting so I went to look at them. There was various things, but the best were Darth Vader and Sponge Bob. It was portions of a collection from some guy that owns hundreds of them.

After leaving that we came across an area that was a section called “A Slice of Heaven.” It was just a small portion that had information about different decades from 1910-2000. It was basically useless. The only part I liked looking at was the 1980s. It was funny because the display at just about every toy we owned. It wasn’t even similar items, it was the exact same things. I told Andy it was like looking at his bedroom.

Some of the things they had were Star Wars toys. They had the exact same ewok pillow case Andy used, the X-wing fighter we have, and a few other pieces. There were also the same Fragle Rock toys that we got from McDonald’s Happy Meals 25 years ago, Ninja Turtles, and Ghost Buster toys. There were also Strawberry Shortcake characters that my sister had, and a bunch of other things I can’t remember. It was funny to see them though.

The next portion of the museum was dedicated to Maori. Most of it was about civil rights leaders from the past 50 years fighting for Maori rights. It is much different than the U.S. and their treatment of Native Americans, it is more like African Americans. In the U.S. Indians just lost all of their things and were ran off their land, but in New Zealand the Maori are a major part of the government and our fighting to get everything back.

The government fought against the Maori beliefs and traditions for years, but recently decided that what happened in the past was wrong and that the Maori will get back some of the things they lost. By 2020 all treaties between the government and the Maori will be settled and nothing will be changed after that time. Therefore, the Maori are working very hard to get the best lawyers and educated people to organize everything as quickly as possible. Theoretically lands that have been farmed by European descendents for the past 150 years could be taken away and returned to Maori control. I foresee this posing a problem for New Zealanders in the near future.

I didn’t look that closely at this section because I didn’t know who any of the people were and again it was way too much to read. There were a few computer simulators that Andy was playing. One of them involved picking a path in life as a New Zealander and seeing how it ended up based on making different life choices. Some of them involved going to school, World War II, working on the family farm or moving to the city, and so on. It was pretty pointless.

The other computer game Andy played involved guessing who a person was based on clues. Because they were people we had never heard of before we had no clue who they were even with the clues. There was a video playing in this part and there was a place to sit down so I took a seat and partially watched. I was more concerned about sitting for a rest. I had been walking around for over 3 hours in the museum, not counting all the walking at the gardens earlier and across town. I was needing a nap.

We walked on to see some information about how the first Maori arrived in New Zealand. There was some information and pictures with a few artifacts. There were a few artifacts displayed. One of which was a replica of a Maori canoe. There was a bench so we set down for a few minutes to rest. There was a video screen with a spinning pattern going on.

We could hear talking from a video so we followed the sound until we came to a round room with chairs and a bench around the wall. In the middle of the room was a round table. On the ceiling there were stars flashing similar to the part on “It’s A Wonderful Life” when the angels are talking.

The movie was just ending when we walked in. There was one person sitting there and they left shortly after we arrived. Again I just wanted to sit and the chairs were big and soft so we sat down. The video started after a two minute countdown on the screen. It was kind of dumb that the movie was going to be shown on the ceiling. It was even dumber that the movie was mostly a spinning hypnotic spiral on the screen with occasional flashing starts. It reminded us of “Zoolander” when Mogatu tries to hypnotize Zoolander to kill the Dhali Lama. It was the same symbol on the previous screen in the other room.

The video was an old man explaining Maori beliefs to a child. Andy fell asleep. I listened the whole time, but was so tired that I didn’t retain much of what it was about. It ended and we left, ready to kill the Dhali Lama. The hardest thing about reading the signs and explanations in the museum is the use of English and Maori. Too many of the displays show the English explanation, but in the middle use a Maori word in parenthesis. Sometimes the English words are used afterwards, but sometimes they aren’t. I don’t speak Maori, so trying to incorporate their language made no sense. It was a way to just appease them obviously.

There were two parts to this section I liked. One was a description of a guy that wanted to recreate the route that the first Maori took from other islands to reach New Zealand thousands of years ago. He built boats just like the original kind that were used and sailed to Hawaii and Fiji. It seemed like a really cool, but hard journey.

The other thing that was neat was a meeting house that could be entered. It was actually a real building that was bought and transported to the museum. It had a lot of really intricate carvings inside, but no pictures were allowed inside. We also had to take our shoes off to enter. Everything was carved from wood and it was really neat. There was also another building that was used to store foods for the Maori.

There were also displays of the weapons that the Maori used and pieces of jade. We had already read about these things in Hokitika at the jade factories we visited. As we were leaving there was a copy of the Wangatani Treaty which made New Zealand a colony for the British.

The copy was displayed on one wall in English and the wall across from it in Maori. It only showed the first three articles. It was pretty funny to read it. It completely contradicted itself on a number of occasions. It started out saying that the Maori would be able to keep control of all land claims and be allowed to hold onto their traditions and beliefs and that the English crown wouldn’t interfere with their lifestyle.

It then follows that by saying all land in New Zealand is owned by the British and that the King or Queen can do whatever they want, with or without the consent of the Maori. It seems strange that the Maori would sign a treaty like this. Over the past 150 years it has led to a lot of problems between the two sides and is in the process of being resolved today. I couldn’t imagine the U.S. doing something like this for the natives or other minority groups that have been mistreated in the past.

I was pretty much done with the museum at this point. As we were walking to the elevator I saw a horse in a case so I walked over to it. It’s name was Pham Lap. It was the greatest race horse from New Zealand. It struggled it’s first few races, but went on to win 36 races in a row. It began touring other parts of the world including Mexico for the world’s largest horse race at the time. It won the race easily, but a few days later mysteriously died. It was believed at the time to be poisoning, but it’s believed that due to the food and special formula it was being fed that it was accidentally killed. Nobody knows for sure.

We took the elevator down to the bottom floor and walked around the gift shop. There was some neat things like always, but nothing was in my price range that I wanted. It was about 6:30 PM and I was tired and ready for dinner. We went to get our bags and then sat down in some chairs to figure out where we wanted to go eat.

We decided we wanted to try some sea food since it included all you can eat salad and was nearby. As we were walking out a girl approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing a survey about my experience at the museum. It took about 10 minutes and included questions about what we liked, didn’t like, and exhibits we visited. I said it was too much information and needed to be reduced and that I liked the Maori stuff, although I really was wanting to see more things about Maori and less things about animals.

We asked for directions for a place to eat and the girl was Asian so she suggested going to the Asian market where there were lots of cheap restaurants. She gave us about 10 minutes of directions and we didn’t remember any of it. She lost me after she said go outside and said turn left after pointing right. She either didn’t know English or didn’t know her left from right.

We walked for about 15 minutes along the harbor and couldn’t find the sea food place. We figured it was a waste to walk around looking for it. There was a New World grocery store and Andy wanted to get a new spiral journal because his is almost full. We walked down there to see what we could find. As we crossed the street I almost walked into some bushes not realizing I was on the side walk and it wasn’t an entrance, just an opening in the bushes.

I thought I would just walk down the small path and then jump over the metal barrier. It turned out that barrier was overlooking a 10-foot drop to a driveway that led to an underground parking area. We were laughing about it because I was about to jump over it and it would have been funny if I had just kept going. I was hungry, tired, and it was dark.

We went inside and couldn’t find anything of use. We did buy a bar of chocolate though because it was on sale. We left and it started to rain. It was really windy also. Wellington is known for being a very windy city, but this wind was nuts. It was like 40 mph in the city. Usually tall buildings block the wind, but these just created a wind tunnel.

Our second choice for food was a pizza place on the main part of town with restaurants. We walked a little further down the road and saw the movie theatre that the third Lord of the Rings had it’s premiere. Andy wanted to get a picture of it so we walked down to it. We passed a few restaurants that were mentioned in the Lonely Planet so I thought maybe we should go to one of them. It was close and I didn’t want to walk anymore.

I went inside the one that was closest to see what their prices were and the type of food they served. There were lots of people there so it seemed popular. They were having a deal on gourmet hamburgers, buy two, get one free. They weren’t that expensive and they were really big so it seemed like a good deal.

We both ordered cheese burgers. They weren’t quite as big as the Fergburgers in Queenstown, but it was still really big. Because we got one free it was like paying half price so we bought a side of French fries each. It included beets on the burgers for some reason, but it was still really good. It was a cheap meal and was a good price. We just drank free water.

After dinner we had to walk about 15 minutes back to our hostel. It was pretty easy to find and not as far as I was thinking it would be. Back at the hostel we went to our room and we had a new roommate, an Asian girl. The Brazilian girl had left though.

The Asian girl was going to be using the bed above mine. She kept coming in and out to get things. I wanted to write in my journal so I got in my bed straight away. It was about 8 PM when I started writing. I was still a little hungry so we had some chocolate. I wanted to get some hot chocolate, but there were no clean cups. In the morning the cabinets are full of dishes, but at night everyone takes them to their room, outside on the deck and patio, and don’t bring them back. I didn’t want to use my own cup so I just didn’t have any.

After writing a lot in my journal I was ready for bed at about 11 PM. The bed was really uncomfortable and lumpy, but at least it was warm.

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