The main purpose of my journey to the deep deep deep south was to visit the long lost Australian branch of the family and meet up with my Sister for some Aussie holiday. My trip to New Zealand was but a brief detour on my way. And thus I passed on to the next stage of my adventure and flew from Rotorua to Wellington then immediately to Melbourne, the capital of the southernmost Australia state Victoria. (Back to the Victoria thing again.) On a train to the ‘burbs, I had a nice chat with a fellow just done with a cricket match. The thing I took away from that conversation was his observation on the difference between Australia and NZLD. According to him, Australia is to the US as New Zealand is to the UK, or in another form, Australia : US :: NZLD : UK. Even though I can’t articulate how, that actually makes a lot of sense.
We had a great romp around southern Victoria, including Cape Paterson, Wonthaggi and its coal mine, Inverloch, Leongatha, Fish Creek, Phillip Island and my first ever honest-to-God camping experience in Wilson’s Promontory Marine National Park, which is probably the most South I will ever be. That was pretty cool.
On the 3hour hike to our camping spot in Wilson’s Prom. The Tasman Sea is in the distance. Looks like a shot from The Land Before Time…
… A Domer’s Tale
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I might be mildly obsessed with the LOTR films … It might not be obvious, but I’ve probably left some clues…
Anyway, after my adventures in Wellington, I left really early for a flight to Rotorua. 6 or 7am in Wellington is pretty dead in the city. I hopped a bus to the airport, where the outside was emblazoned with “THE MIDDLE OF MIDDLE EARTH” in an Elvish font. Ok, that was just a little too much and I was better able to empathize with my hostel concierge’s complaint that there’s more to New Zealand than Middle Earth. Then I walked inside and there was a massive Gollum swimming through the air after some fish, who were suspended over the coffee/donuts section of the lobby. But the part that was cool were the costumes. They had Fili and Kili’s costumes at the airport, as well as the costumes of their scale doubles.
Uh, right then.
(^ to the tune of “Maryland, My Maryland”, the national anthem of a certain mid-Atlantic state…)
All of my time in New Zealand, save about 18 hours, was spent in Wellington, the capital city and located at the nearly southernmost point of the North Island. Since this is ostensibly a history blog, here’s a link to a detailed history of the city, but to sum up: in 1773, Captain James Cook landed at this harbor, it was named Port Nicholson after Sydney harbormaster John Nicholson. Later in 1860 it was renamed Wellington in honor of the Duke of Wellington, then in 1865 the seat of government moved there from Auckland, the largest city at the top of North Island. Wellington is more centrally located in the country, making a more appealing location for the nation’s capital.
Wellington: Fidel’s is on Cuba street (bottom left). Te Aro district is off the picture past Oin (bottom left). Mount Victoria is at the end of Majoribanks Street (bottom right). Airport is on other side of Mount Victoria. The Beehive is all the way at the top of the page right below the yellow box. Te Papa Tongarewa is building J on the Harbor. Building M (bottom right) is the Embassy Theatre, where The Return of the King film had its world premiere. My hostel was on the other side of the street at the corner of Something Terrace and Courtenay Place.
You know how sometimes things in life align and present, nay – knocks you over the head with an opportunity that you’d be an idiot not to take? Like a big flashing arrow on the Road of Life did an opportunity to visit Oz arise. I would meet my sister, we would get to spend Christmas with some long lost Australian relations, win/win.
I took a couple of extra days off to visit New Zealand because I was going to be in the neighborhood and it isn’t exactly a country you can take a quick detour through otherwise. Also I WOULD GET TO SEE THE HOBBIT PART 3 PREMIERE! IN THE EMBASSY THEATER! (I’ve been mildly obsessed with New Zealand since the original Lord of the Rings movies. In fact, I pregamed this trip by isolating myself for a two weeks just to watch all 30+ hours of the Making Of. Which is the sole reason I bought the Extended DVD set. This is SRS BISNESS)
Because this blog is ostensibly dedicated to “history”, here’s a little bit about New Zealand: (And – oooooh: jobs and immigration….) Continue reading