Friday, 21 December 2007


100% Pure New Zealand

Mark crossed over into Wellington yesterday on the INTERISLANDER, to arrive in the evening and stay with friends on the NORTH ISLAND. He popped into VIC Cycles first thing to get a maintenance check on the bike.

Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand and has a population of around 450 000 if one includes the outlying urban regions of the city. It can claim a few geographical superlatives: it is the southernmost national capital city and the most remote capital city in the world.
It is also located in a zone known as the 'roaring Forties' and is known colloquially as "Windy Wellington".

One major attraction is the TE PAPA museum which has free entry despite costing over $300 million to build apparently. One area features the tectonic history of the islands, and gives people the chance to experience what it is like in an earthquake: the Awesome Forces exhibit. It seems strange that they need that given recent events...

Wellington is preparing for a fresh tourist and film-making bonanza following the announcement that I referred to yesterday about the filming of "The Hobbit" movies. Some companies already run Lord of the Rings tours to the locations. A friend of mine featured in 'The Two Towers' in a small way. He was at the Westpac Stadium along with around 25 000 other cricket fans when Peter Jackson came onto the pitch and asked them to chant Orcish war chants which he then recorded and digitally edited to produce the sound of the orc hordes at Helm's Deep. Mark will pass the Westpac stadium on his way out of the city: it is known locally as 'the cake tin' - as you can see below there is a certain resemblance...Image by Wikipedia user Hamedog

Urban development is constrained by the relief of the surrounding area: "between harbour and hills", and the map below shows the elongated shape of the city to the north, with a very compact area, which takes just 20 minutes to walk across (the central area at least).Just north of Wellington's CBD is the grave of Harry McNeish. He was the carpenter on board the Endurance when Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on his attempt to cross Antarctica in 1914. He saved the crew by making the necessary alterations to the small vessel: the 'James Caird' , in which Shackleton, Frank Worsley and others made the famous voyage to South Georgia from Elephant Island to save the whole crew's lives. For a fascinating story told from the perspective of the cat that he sneaked on board, who was nicknamed Mrs. Chippy, despite being male, read Caroline Alexander's book. Mrs. Chippy had an unfortunate end once the Endeavour sank...Image by Simon Hathaway

I know that this story will also interest Mrs. V as she has a lifesize and very realistic Mrs. Chippy sat on her desk.
Mrs. Chippy is commemorated in the form of the cat who sits on McNeish's grave, which can be found at Karori cemetery - which Mark will once again pass within a few kilometres of as he leaves Wellington's CBD.

In 2005, permission was granted for the construction of MAKARA wind farm to supply more of the city's energy (given the name I mentioned earlier, this seems to make sense) I have been unable to find more information as to whether the construction has continued, and unearthed some conflicting opinions (as one would expect) on the planned scheme. The energy company: MERIDIAN ENERGY (who only produce energy from renewable sources) already have one large wind turbine (link is to a PDF information sheet) in the Wellington area.
Mark would have passed their building on the quayside in Wellington, which is billed as "New Zealand's greenest building". There is an illustrated virtual tour of the building along with some 360 degree panoramas. This would be a good case study of energy efficiency and sustainable building design. Image this as the view from your desk:

Wellington has also given us the music act the FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS, who recently had a BBC series.

Brief detour...
A fair distance north of Wellington, but on the east coast of the North island is the city of Gisborne.There was a major earthquake here yesterday, which has been reported widely in the New Zealand press. The quake measured 6.8 on the Richter Scale, and has caused major devastation, and unfortunately at least one death. The BBC report this. One more local report says that "everything's in ruins except the presents".
My friend in Wellington said it nearly shook him out of bed.

If you ever want to see the front pages of almost 600 newspapers around the world check out the excellent NEWSEUM site. For example, here is the front page of the New Zealand Herald.

The Dominion Post also has a major resource section on the issue of Whaling. There are plenty of whale watching operations in the area, and people make a living through whale conservation. Click the image below to visit the resources, which includes videos, photos, stories, and an online petition.
There is also a link to a migration map for the Humpback whale, which would form a useful teaching focus for lessons on the concept of SCALE: comparing our own yearly migrations with those of the whale.
A number of whales have been GeoTagged, and they can be viewed on a GOOGLE MAP. The current positions are shown below:
Greenpeace have also been involved with the campaign against Japan's intention to hunt 50 humpback whales, and earlier today it was reported by the BBC that this was NOT now going to happen.

Back to the day's route...

Mark was due to leave on Highway 1, but apparently changed to Highway 3: the coastal road, to avoid the lorries. Lower Hutt, just north of Wellington was the location for Minas Tirth and Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings movies, and Upper Hutt was the location for Rivendell. Mark will now bypass these, and move on to the Kapiti Coast, as he heads for Pukerua Bay, looking out to Kapiti Island: a national Nature Reserve.

Alan Parkinson
AKA "Mrs V"

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