One of my favourite past times whilst living in Wellington was to wander around the waterfront. It’s was the perfect place to let my mind and body relax after being locked up in lecture theatres all day. I could grab a coffee, find a sunny spot out of the wind and sit for hours just people watching. So, last May, when I arrived back in New Zealand to arrange my new UK visa, I was determined to pay my university home a visit. Thankfully, the somewhat temperamental Wellington weather looked kindly upon my return and turned on some very rare but much appreciated blue winter skies. The wind, however, was as strong as ever. As I was staying with one of my very best friends just behind Courtenay Place, it was an easy walk down to the waterfront in the morning. With the wind still being a little on the brisk side, I sought refuge within the sanctuary that is Te Papa Tongarewa: Museum of New Zealand. Its Māori name roughly translates as ‘ the container of treasures’. However, as the Māori words Papa and Tongarewa have multifaceted meanings, a better translation would be ‘our container of treasured things and people who spring from Mother Earth here in New Zealand‘. How’s that for an amazing name? And how fitting it is too: this isn’t some dusty museum of old, it’s a full-blown modern celebration of all things Kiwi. Make sure to check out the colossal squid: a fishing expedition accidentally hauled it up from the depths of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. Other brilliant exhibitions include the Earthquake House, which is set up to replicate the experience of being in an earthquake (New Zealand is known as the Shaky Isles for a reason!), and the National Art Collection.
Having spent a good few hours exploring the delights of Te Papa, I ventured back outside. Thankfully, the wind had dropped and the sun was still shining Wellington has a tendency to have all seasons twice over in one day! Just behind Te Papa marks the start of another of Wellington’s treasures – the Writer’s Walk. A series of 23 literary snippets from some of New Zealand’s best writers have been cast into concrete typographic and metal inlay sculptures. Found dotted among the wharves, walkways and parklands, the quotes were specifically chosen for their relationship to Wellington; either by the writer or their content. Some are so well hidden that I still haven’t discovered them all despite having lived in Wellington throughout my university studies.
The waterfront is also home to one of the numerous Sculpture Trails that can be found around the Wellington area. You’ll be happy to know that the waterfront offers free wifi too so you can head off on your own self guided tour. Just make sure you take slight detour over City to Sea Bridge into Civic Square to see the suspended silver orb called Ferns. It’s one of my favourites!
After picking up a gelato from Kaffee Eis, I found myself a spot to watch the people in kayaks, on paddle boards or just out for a swim. Dangling my feet above the water and the now gentle breeze playing in my hair, I remembered why I’d chosen Wellington as my university home…
I love this city.