Saturday, March 1, 2008

Museum of Wellington City & Sea

The Wellington Museum of City & Sea

A weary tourist on the waterfront

(Te Waka Huia O Nga Taonga Tuke Iho)

As you can see from the title, the names of things in Wellington are not simple. Everything is translated into Maori and often descriptions will likewise have the translation side by side. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, the City of Wellington has a very extensive museum system. Today we visited the City & Sea museum located in the historic Bond House on the waterfront.

But I jump ahead! In order to keep fit, the world’s greatest shopper has us walking from one end of the city to the other. This walk requires frequent detours into stores that peak the interest of at least one of the partnership. Personally I prefer the bookstores. The lady prefers the craft stores, kitchen stores, souvenir stores and most any place with an open door. Fortunately, she does seem to stay out of the high fashion and jewelry stores. In order to survive one of these Bataan death marches, it requires a coffee stop about 11 a.m. Today we supported our Starbucks stock.

Then about 1 p.m. between many more stores and searching for bathrooms, it is absolutely essential to find someplace to sit down. This will hopefully help in repairing sore feet, sore hips, sore backs, and sore legs. The logical sitting down place is a restaurant. Can you believe we enjoyed a Belgian restaurant named Lueven, which served Stella Artois beer and Belgian hot meatloaf sandwiches. Just what the orthopedic doctor ordered for the next four hour marathon.

As we were now just a block off the waterfront we then did visit the museum. However, we by mistake first went in Shed 11, which was the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. The paintings were very interesting as they feature current artists who can actually paid portraits. I can assure you this is pretty much a lost art around the world.

Next we stagger on to the Museum of City & Sea. This is an excellent museum with some very unusual presentations. There is a lot to see on the three floors. As an example of some of the exhibits they have the history of Wellington shown by one item or event for each of the past 100 years, exhibits of Wellington’s maritime heritage, the Board Room of the Harbor Board, artifacts of the Wahine inter-island ferry disaster of 1968 (this was very reassuring for my partner as we will be on one of the ferry’s in a couple of weeks), and several special exhibits of social history, art, and Maori legend. We really enjoyed this museum. The museum also has an excellent website at

And now back to the marathon! As we are running short of groceries (you mean we actually cook on occasion?) we walk to the other end of the city and visit the New World Supermarket. Fortunately we didn’t buy more than 30 or 40 pounds of food to carry back to the apartment and we did make it, barely.

Quirky Living Note: You of course know that McDonalds can be found worldwide. But you may also know that New Zealand has a reputation of being about 30 years behind the rest of the world. Thus McDonalds was into several billion hamburgers before arriving here. But the upside is that the stores here are McDonalds on steroids. Here they build them bigger and better. Children’s play areas larger than most city parks! Stores that must take up acres of land. You also heard this winter about going into competition with Starbucks with gourmet designer coffee. It seems that this stage of marketing has been going on here for years as most McDonalds have McCafe’s. There certainly is no time warp in the coffee wars!

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