Things I Have Learned In Wellington, New Zealand

Things I Have Learned In Wellington, New Zealand

“Travel ennobles the spirit and does away with our prejudices.’ Oscar Wilde

The National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, has 36,000 square meters of public floor space, taking up five floors and the size of three rugby fields.

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The museum sits on 150 shock absorbers to protect it from earthquake movement and has enough reinforcing steel to stretch from Wellington to Sydney. The architecture is amazing and admission is free.

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I find that museums are different for everyone. Some people like to spend ages reading all the wall plaques and examining paintings, while others just want a brisk walk to check out the best bits and then go for a coffee or get a tea towel at the gift shop. The Wellington Museum is great because  the methods of display and subject matter vary throughout the museum. There is less of a structure than some other museums to reflect visitors preferences .

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Gallipoli The Scale Of War is a larger than life exhibit that  uses the experiences of real New Zealanders who served, fought and died to capture the human face of what became known as the Great War and the battle of Gallipoli.

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I had trouble with the massive scale of the soldiers which gave it a more Disneyland and less human feel.

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But traveling throughout Australia and New Zealand and being at Gallipoli in Turkey made me also understand that it is still a larger than life experience for these countries.

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Wellington’s waterfront is a beautifully walkable public space, dotted with cafes, parks, sculpture, bars and ice cream vendors.

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Legend has it that Wellington’s well-known Parliament building, the Beehive, was actually sketched as a joke. While some say the architect’s paper of choice was a napkin, others claim it was drawn on a cigarette packet. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Wellington’s compact geography isn’t just handy for visitors; over 18,000 of the city’s residents walk or jog to work and the waterfront is popular with runners. While Wellingtonians may be keen on foot traffic these days, it was a local man – William McLean – who imported the first car into New Zealand in 1898. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Said to have more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York, Wellington is also fuelled by some of the strongest coffee you’ll ever find.

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Home to hipsters, artists and lovers of vintage, Cuba Street is a bohemian haven with some of the city’s most colourful shops, bars and cafes.  Stop at Fidel’s for coffee.

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It’s been said that over one-third (33%) of Wellington residents have a bachelor degree or higher qualification – the highest in the country.

Zealandia is the first award winning fully-fenced urban eco-sanctuary in the world.(photo by Cordula Reins)

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Wellington recently became known because The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was made there.

Wellington, is the southernmost capital in the world. Wellington replaced Auckland as the capital city of New Zealand in 1865. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Wellington is located on the Southern end of North Island. You can take the ferry from Wellington to South Island.

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Interislander’s Cook Strait Ferries travel between Wellington and Picton New Zealand.

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The 92km voyage takes 3 hours and has been described as “one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world.

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I love a good ferry ride.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

For The Traveler

For the Traveler  (photos of New Zealand by Cordula Reins)

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

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New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.

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Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

0447_tongariroWhen you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,1011_okarito_mountain_view
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:0435_tongariro_taranaki_fallsHow you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening a conversation
You want to take in0705_lake_tekapo_bridgeview
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.1021_franz_josef_glacierWhen you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,0828_tsse_cruise_lake_wakatipu
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.0370_wai_o_tapu_champagne_poolA journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,0152_paihia_morning
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.0778_milford_soundMay you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;0954_walk_to_fox_glacierThat you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.0579_abel_tas_np_onetahutiMay you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.0498_winetasting_lookout_hill_cheers

John O’Donohue
from: To Bless the Space Between Us

Special thanks to Cordulia Reins for sharing  her beautiful vision.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

“Everything We Need Is Free.” The Maori In New Zealand

“Everything We Need Is Free.” The Māori in New Zealand

I’ve always been fascinated by the Māori. They have cool tattoos and a great war dance and as indigenous people go, though their lives are harder, they have never been beaten by a European culture.

In Rotorua there are a variety of cultural shows and educational tours to learn about Māori life. Some are smaller and some have better food. They are touristy but you can still learn a lot. Te Po in Te Puia, Rotorua was one of the more touristy yet really enjoyable things I have ever done. We start in the gift shop (of course, I always start there anyway) where there is a nice choice of Māori everything.

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Greenstone is the Nephrite jade found in New Zealand and prized by the Maoris. It is sold all over New Zealand.  Māori tradition is never to keep the first piece of greenstone that you find and to give it to someone else. The objects made from pounami (greenstone) are passed down in Māori families not only linking them to their ancestors but to the maker and nature of the stone itself. In the Māori world, objects speak to their origins: whalebone to the whale, wood to the tree, pounamu to its source river and mountain.It is an acknowledgment of human impermanence, a truth expressed in a Māori proverb: People come and go, but the land endures.

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We walk to the marae (meeting hall).

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   The Māori guide picks his new best friend John (an American from Texas) to lead the cultural interaction. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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 John would have the honor to greet the warriors coming out of the marae and ask for permission to enter by putting down a branch. He  did a great job with his branch and we were promptly invited to proceed through the grounds and enter the marae. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Once seated, the cultural and musical entertainment program began. The Maori group performed some wonderful dances, rituals and songs. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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The haka is a Maori war dance. It is fierce and involves much chanting, stamping of hands and feet and some pretty scary looking faces doing the pukana (that wild eye thing they do). (photo by Cordula Reins)

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But while most people equate the haka with the start of a New Zealand rugby All Blacks match to try to scare the opposition, the haka is also done on occasions to honor great people. One of the most moving things you’ll see is a haka done at a wedding, funeral or when someone has achieved something great.

The only other place to see the haka (unless you know a Māori family) is at one of these shows.  It is the only time to have a chance to learn it. I’m obsessed with the haka, so I thought it was great that so many men ran to do it.  Seriously, how could you not?  (photo by Cordula Reins)

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At the beginning of the evening, everyone had  walked over to just outside the dining hall to take a look as the evening’s meal was being lifted out of the earth oven where it was being cooked in the steam. After the show, we went to the dining tables and learned about our table mates from all over the world while eating kumara and rewana bread. We walked to the geysers in this geothermal wonderland as the sun was setting.

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After a few minutes of drinking hot chocolate and taking photos in front of the bubbling pools and geysers, it was getting colder and we were happy to catch the little “train” back.

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Māori call themselves tangata whenua, people of the land.  Members of the various tribes distinguish themselves from other Māori by referring to the canoe that brought their ancestors to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and to special landmarks such as a river or a mountain.  In other words, they tie their collective and individual identities to ancestors and places. When they are formally introduced, they often will give not only their name, but also the names of their mountain, river and ancestors. (Lake Tarawera)

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Māori philosophy is that  all creatures are kin. All beings have life force (mauri), and all are sacred (tapu). People, birds, fish, trees and weather are all interconnected.

There is power in continually acknowledging ancestors. There is no alternative – to make sure there is success in fishing, long journeys, or handling life’s challenges, you have to trust your ancestors, who include the entire natural world.  Egotism is very difficult to keep up in an atmosphere of constant reminders of all who brought us here, those who make our lives possible today, and those who will follow after us. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Haere humarie,

JAZ