Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday in Wellington: Te Papa, Zealandia and MAMIL!

I had a great first full day in Wellington, starting with a delicious breakfast of waffles with bacon and bananas at Fidel's across the street from my hotel. Then I walked a few blocks to Te Papa, New Zealand's National Museum.

Te Papa

There was something going on outside when I arrived...

Promotion for a new exhibit about a local dinosaur.
Though the human legs were obvious,
the guy inside could control the head and tongue with a lot of precision,
and had fun playing with people (mostly kids).

The museum is stunning, and was focussed on the relationship between the Maori inhabitants (including a lot about their internal conflicts in earlier times) and the European settlers. There were also exhibits about earthquakes and volcanoes, which come along with living in a country formed by two continental plates bumping into each other, and about how the landscape was remade by the settlers, including the effect of introducing non-native species, which made for a great segue into this afternoon.

Had lunch at the museum cafe, and then headed over to the Civic Square by the library, where I hung out and read for bit, until it was time to catch the free shuttle bus to Zealandia, an eco-sanctuary just up the hill from the Wellington city centre. It's just about the same size as Downsview Park, with a predator-proof fence running all around it to protect the native species inside: mostly birds, but also weta (which I learned are not only a great visual effects company, but also cool giant insects) and tuatara, New Zealand's ancient reptile with links to dinosaurs. I had a really nice relaxing walk through the park, which is centered around an old dam and lake that were part of Wellington's original water system.

Black fern, nestled in the branches of a tree at Zealandia

Back downtown I found a decent Malaysian place for dinner, and then went to see a play at a local theatre that had sounded like fun: MAMIL (Middle Aged Men In Lycra), about a guy having a mid-life crisis who discovered cycling.  This review captures a lot of it, though fortunately there was no heckling from the audience. It was impressive to see Hadlow play so many different characters (including his Italian bike and his somewhat neglected genitals) non-stop for 90 minutes, though he did stumble over his lines a few times.

This trip is going by very quickly! I passed the half-way point about a week ago at Doubtful Sound, and now have only 2 1/2 weeks left. In a week I'll be headed to New Caledonia for the World Youth Climbing Championships. 50 days sounds longer on paper than it feels like when it's going by!

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