Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Satiated with sightseeing...

Our next port of call today was breakfast. We found a cafe we liked the look of, sitting outside, warm in the winter sun.

This is the equivalent of mid-February, people, and here we are in shirt sleeves #definitelynotcomplainingabouttheweather.

Bacon and brie croissant, blueberry pancakes with bacon and a cooked, gluten-free breakfast and ewe were good to go.

First tourist sight was the Te Papa museum on the waterfront overlooking...the port.

The building itself was imaginatively designed, the layout inviting exploration of the brilliant exhibits.

I now know huge amounts of information about the geology, flora, fauna, indigenous history and culture and more recent details of immigration and development of this amazing country than I can hope to remember.

A trip up to the viewing platform gave wonderful views over the harbour: our next destination.

A coffee, watching businessmen and families, runners and cyclists, and we were ready to catch the ferry to Matiu/Somes island.

A former prisoner of war camp and animal quarantine centre, the island has this name because authorities could not agree on which name name to choose-so they used both. This little island in Wellington harbour is a wildlife sanctuary, with a strict quarantine procedure. When we landed, we were taken into a hut where a ranger explained the history and wildlife of the island. We had to empty our bags, remove every vestige of plant or animal material and prove that we were not smuggling any rodents onto the island.

It was good to know that I didn't have any mice living in my handbag.

A quick stroll revealed many sightings of the kakariki, a parakeet with bright green body and red head.

Beautiful.  short ferry ride took us back to the harbour - and the Wellington City and Sea Museum. Wandering through 150 years of history filled us with admiration for these resilient people who, leaving family behind - in most cases for ever - created new lives. The sense of  lives intimately bound up with and dependent on the sea, struggle to survive, close community and hardship was strong.

A trip in the quirky cable car up to the Botanic Gardens gave us another unique New Zealand Bird: the tui. Known as the parson bird because of a white tuft of feathers beneath the chin, it has an exquisite song.

Back down in the cable car and a weary walk home. More than enough sightseeing....

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