Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 5. Wanganui to Wellington

Anna woke up feeling out of sorts. She probably got too much sun yesterday, and today she feels flustered and a bit feverish. Note to herself: Get a hat!

We spent the morning visiting the beach of Wanganui, called Castlecliff, which is formed by black volcanic sand and a profusion of wood carved by waves and wind into all sorts of artsy shapes. Truly, Mother Nature is a fabulous artist. Dutifully Anna dipped a finger in the Cook Strait, another small step in the self-appointed task of having dipped a finger or a tow in all the oceans and seas of the world.

A lazy ride of about 3 hours brought us into Wellington, at the south end of the North Island. The city is located in a ria coast, where elongated fluvial valleys, carved along a swarm of active faults, have been flooded by the sea level rise of the last 18,000 years. Fortunately for the modern city, the founders reserved the skyline as a green belt and this has stopped urban encroachment. Each valley is thus a small neighborhood with its own personality and charm.

We are visiting KC and Tim Little here, and thanks to Anna’s amazing navigating skills we arrived at their doorstep at 3:55 pm (we were expected at 4 pm). KC and their son Alvi were at home, and Tim arrived an hour later for a happy reunion. I think the last time I had seen Tim was at Faby and DJ’s wedding, ten years ago, and I had probably not seen KC for 20 years, so we had lots of news to catch on. They happen to live on a ridgeline, overlooking Island Bay on the Cook Strait. It is a lovely location, with lots of sun, but also with sweeping wind (Windy Wellington is the way Kiwis refer to this charming city).

After a great dinner Anna excused herself and went to bed, to finish nursing her mild sun stroke, and KC, Tim and I went for a car ride. Alvi had friends over, for a Dungeons and Dragons kind of game where each of the gamers develops a part of the plot (no computers involved), so he didn’t come with us. Kc drove us to the top of Victoria Hill, where you get a terrific view of Wellington, and its fish-hook shaped harbor. A Maori legend tells about the mythical hero who went out fishing and pulled the North Island out of the sea, which is why Wellington has the shape of a hooked fish. From there we went to the Botanical Gardens, looked at the landscape, and had a fortifying cup of tea at a local pub. We were waiting for nightfall, because as we walked into the pitch black paths of the gardens we were immersed into a magic scene of small points of light generated by a multitude of glowworms. A very nice way to end the day!

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