Posted by & filed under Travel Country: New Zealand.


So now I’m in Wellington. The weather is not great but that’s partly what the museums are good for, to immerse yourself in the culture, on rainy days like this.

The weather was miserable when I got to Wellington last Tuesday, pouring out of the heavens and windy to boot! Wednesday morning wasn’t much better but as I said, the museums are great to head to, in weather like this! I went to the Te Papa Museum Wednesday afternoon. It’s one of the best museums I’ve been to so far. It gives you a great insight into New Zealand’s past and present. It’s an interactive, multimedia museum, with 6 floors that you can happily get lost in. There are all sorts of exhibitions.

I spent about an hour in the part that was all about New Zealand’s earthquakes and volcanoes. That kind of thing really fascinates me and to think that New Zealand is sitting on a fault line the length of the country is amazing. They have hundreds of mini earthquakes all the time here but they haven’t had a major earthquake that caused damage for quite a while. Anyway, I was in the earthquake section and because it’s the kids holidays for two weeks now, the place was packed with families. There is this sort of volcano machine where, depending on how hard you jump on the machine, determines  whether you can make the volcano explode! So every friggin’ few seconds, all you could hear was “thump, thump, thump”. All the kids in the museum were jumping on this machine! I spent about 5 hours there. By the time I came out, it had stopped raining.

I had been talking to Margaret, the older woman on the bus and a few other people since, about the World of Wearable Art Show and I really wanted to go. But it’s such a good show and so popular, that I thought that it would be sold out. So on Wednesday, I went to the TSB Arena where the show was on and decided to try and see if they had tickets. If you don’t try, you won’t get! I couldn’t believe it when they said they had 3 standard tickets left for the show on Thursday. So straight away, I bought a ticket. I’m sure the show was sold out by the time Thursday evening came. And I’m not surprised. It was absolutely amazing. I have never, ever seen anything like it.The combination  of the music, choreography, outfits and dance made it a stunning show. I was totally gobsmacked and enthralled by it.

The WOW Art competition is a platform for artists and designers to design pieces of art for the different categories of the competition but the art all has to be wearable, because models have to be able to wear it at the show. And my God, were they works of art! The outfits can be made of wood, plastic, photo paper, china, polystyrene, foam, felt,……. anything, you name it! But I was amazed by the designs. Some of them were so intricate and detailed and some of them were so “off the wall”, that you’d never believe anyone could ever dream up such a thing. There are about 8 categories in the competition. And with each entrant, my jaw just dropped lower and lower. I was totally astounded by what they came up with. My favourite category was the ” Illumination Illusion Section”. All the lights are turned off and these ultra violet lights come on. The first thing we saw, were these multicoloured flame shaped objects, floating around in the darkness. And with the music, it looked like these floating flames were blowing around in the wind. It made my heart soar to see it. After an couple of minutes, all these leaves of flame, grouped together to form the shape of a butterfly. It was just wonderful.

There also a part of the show, where there was a woman draped in black and she must have been 5 metres tall. She had a crescent moon on her head, which was lit up and she was lifted up to the ceiling and stayed there. The stage was also surrounded by black, flowing drapes, suspended from the ceiling. The woman started singing opera and the first group of entrants came in and did their modelling. The designs and colours and shapes of all of them caught my eye so much, that I’d nearly miss the next entrant coming up, I was so glued to the one before!. It was such a professional, theatrical, wonderful fashion show, I’ll never forget it.

I had seen an advertisement in the “What’s On – Wellington” brochure, for a performance that was going on in Old St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday night and it was a swing band that was going to be playing. So I decided to go. It was on at 5.30pm. By the time I got there, the place was filling up  and the band were tuning up. The band were called “Hot Club Sandwich”. I really like swing music, so I got a seat to the right of the church, where I could see them. There were 3 of them in the band: the main guy was on the guitar, and older guy was on an electric guitar and the piece de resistance, James, was, wait for it – on the saxophone and clarinet! Yes, I love brass instruments and I have a thing for saxophone players! This guy was cute, with curly hair and in his 30’s I’d say and his secret weapon was his powerful voice. Man could he sing! I couldn’t keep the smile off my face but he was only guesting with the band this time and he was leaving after the first set, to go play in his regular band, at the Southern Cross in Wellington. Anyway, he sang a few songs and one of them was Moonriver. Oh God, I was practically on the floor!. It was gorgeous.

The rest of the time, there were different guests playing with the band and it was so good, I really enjoyed it. I got talkng to the couple who were sitting in front of me and they found out which street the Southern Cross was on and they said they’d be happy to drive me there. So, after the concert was over, I followed James up to the Southern Cross, as a groupie does! I had something to eat there and rather conspicuously, sat down at the front table. Well, there were no other tables left! After a few minutes, 3 women asked if they could sit at the table beside me and we got talking. Apparently, every Friday night, there’s a swing band playing there and everybody gets up to dance. It was great to watch and I really enjoyed the night. The girls gave me a lift back to the hostel later on.

On the way back in the car, we passed the “Green Parrot” on Taranaki Street. One of the girls, Andrea, told me that that was where Vigo Mortensen used to go, when he was staying in Wellington during filming of Lord of the Rings. She used to do ballet for years but now works in the Costume Department, in James’s Theatre, Wellington. She told me that during filming of LOTR, a lot of the chippies in James’s Theatre were called out to work on the LOTR set. She said that she used to hang out with one of the chippies, meet up with him for a few drinks and he would tell her about what they were making on Lord of the Rings set that day. That’s so cool!

I’m a big fan of Lord of the Rings and I went on a LOTR tour on Saturday, with Wellington Rover Tours.  We headed out to Rivendell, Kaitoke Regional Park before the masses arrived, as it was a gorgeous day. I did this tour the last time I came here, in 2005 and there’s a spot in Kaitoke, with a sign to show where they filmed Rivendell. We got photos taken here with elven ears on, a cloak and holding a replica of “Sting”, Frodo’s sword. I was trying not to laugh while the photos were being taken! This is a beautiful area of Kaitoke. We also stopped off at Helms Deep, and a few other locations on the way.

We had lunch in town and at about 2pm, headed out to Miramar Peninsula and Weta Cave, a part of Weta Workshops. Who was sitting at the table there, only Alan Lee, I couldn’t believe it! Actually the guide told us earlier that he MIGHT be signing books. He’s the guy that did all the artwork for the LOTR books and films and I really admire his work, I think it’s amazing. He was only in Weta Cave that day, between 1 and 3 pm, signing a new book which he had illustrated and did the artwork for. The book was called “Shapeshifters – Tales from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. It’s a kid’s book but I wanted to buy the ” Lord of the Rings Sketchbook” which he wrote. Luckily there weren’t too many people there, as they hadn’t advertised it a lot. I kept thinking “I can’t believe that I’m getting the chance to meet Alan Lee”!  So I got the LOTR Sketchbook signed by him, got talking to him for a little while and got a photo taken with him. It was brilliant, I was so chuffed! He’s very soft spoken and gentle and seems to be a lovely guy. Ironically, I was going to buy the book the day before but I decided to wait till today to buy it instead and I’m so glad now, that I did.

I just want to write about one more thing! Wellington has a lot of wind art spread out through the city. While I was on one of the Wellington Rover tours, we passed one of these art pieces. This one was called the Zepherometer. It’s shaped a bit like the pointer of a speedometer. Zepher means breeze, so it measures the wind. Shortly after it was installed, it leaned over the road at one point, because of the wind. People in their cars stopped and caused a traffic jam because they were afraid it might bounce off their cars. The city council had to take out a full page advertisement in the Dominion Post newspaper the next day, to tell people not to worry, that the zepheromoter wouldn’t touch the road or their cars! Funny!

Wonderful Wellington – the best little capital in the world! But mind you, Amsterdam runs a close second!