Well yesterday we spent a good part of the day at the national museum, the Te Papa. While we only went to 2 out of the 5 floors with exhibits, we spent almost 4 hours there. It was totally awesome!! The second floor, where we started, was all the geological stuff... like volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc... telling the story of how New Zealand was formed. It was all interactive and definitely designed for little kids, but it was so cool!!
The fourth floor, the other floor we went to, was all about immigration to New Zealand. They had all these stories of families, real families, who emigrated from Ireland, Croatia, England, etc... to find a better life here. It was really cool because they told where the families (or their descendants) are now and what they're doing in New Zealand. There was also this heartbreaking story of these Polish children during World War II who had lost their parents and all their relatives and the government of New Zealand said that they would take them in and make them citizens if they could make the trip over. So hundreds of these starved, orphaned Polish children made this journey to New Zealand to escape WWII and the Holocaust. It was really a cool story and some of the entries from the diaries of these kids was so sad, yet still so strong.
After the Te Papa we walked around the harbor (where there is a big plaque dedicated to the Polish children who came) and found this really cool brewery, Mac's. We watched Bevan Dogherty, the Kiwi triathlete, win bronze, New Zealand's 7th medal of this Olympics, and had a pint of Mac's pale ale. SO GOOD! And the actual brewery is right on the harbor so you can watch all the action.
I think all in all, we LOVE Wellington! It's not a huge, huge city, like Auckland, and the shopping streets, restaurants and cafe streets, bar streets are all well-defined with a bunch of pedestrian streets so it's so EASY to get around. It's beautiful, surrounded by water, with mountains rising up all around. We have a gorgeous day today, still very cold, so we'll see what we end up doing. We were thinking we would kayak in the harbor, since we heard that is a quintessential experience here. (Freezing cold water sports seem to be our thing this trip!)
Tomorrow we fly to Nelson, just across the harbor (it was cheaper to fly than to take the ferry) to start the second half of our trip on the South Island. The South Island caters much more to the winter, so it should be hopping! They are having a record year for snow is Queenstown, so the skiing should be a blast! Write more from the south...