Tag Archives: cyclone

Wellington: Botanic Gardens, fish pie, and a cyclone…

We recently visited Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, on the southern tip of the North Island. From the waterfront promenade we could see the craggy shorelines, dotted with houses and sailing boats.

Just as we arrived, we heard Wellington was expecting the tail end of a cyclone that had devastated the Pacific Island of Tonga.

However, all was calm, and we had a few plans..

One of the attractions of the city is catching the little red cable car that clatters up the steep slope to the top of the Botanic Gardens…you can then wander down through the gardens,  all the way down to the Harbour….

Paul took this photo on the way up the hill (in my view, a mountain). The weather, we had to admit, wasn’t looking great.

We began our Botanic garden walk in the tracks of the original forest..

As I mentioned in my last post, many parts of New Zealand were used for the filming sites for the Lord of the Rings trilogy….

and quite often we felt we were entering Middle Earth territory….

This map shows New Zealand, Australia, India, Africa, South America, and Antarctica once formed a land mass called Gondwana.

Gondwana broke up about 167 million years ago and trees from the Araucaria family were spread all over these countries and continents.

Today trees, including the South American monkey puzzle, the Australian Moreton Bay fig and the Norfolk pine, are found across the southern hemisphere. Many of these trees were found in the Botanic gardens.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Wellington’s Botanic garden was established in 1868, and has native and exotic trees, succulent gardens, seasonal displays of bulbs and annuals……something for everyone! (and all growing on the side of the mountain.)

I felt as if I was in South Africa, in particular Cape Town, walking around the succulent gardens..

The Aloes plants are welcome source of food in winter for insects and native birds such as Tui,  they love the nectar.

My favourite flower, seen frequently in NZ, seems to grow wild in some places…

Kaka Beak

The  succulent below looks a bit space age to me…

Haemanthus (Blood Lily)

 

Dwarf Pohutukawa

There were bee hives tucked away in all the garden beds..

Paul took a photo from our path across to Druid Hill where we could see a large copper sculpture called Listening and Viewing Device: Andrew Drummond 1994.  When the structure was first built, the original plan was to lift the two pieces into place by a helicopter, but the weight was more than estimated, (over a tonne)  and another more heavy duty helicopter sent from New Plymouth had to finish the job!

..back into Middle Earth again with these wonderful tree ferns…

this path led on to curved shady borders of Agapanthus, Hydrangeas, Rhododendrons, Irises…sadly the flowers are mostly spent now that summer is nearly over..

Along with the spring bulbs this must be a wonderful spring/early summer garden to visit.

After that long and interesting walk through the gardens we felt we had earned an evening meal at the Waterfront.

Wellington is not only the capital of New Zealand, but is also a University town, so we were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a place to eat.

 

Charlie Noble (Eatery and Bar) looked great…… local ingredients,  wood-fired  grills, and rotisserie, natural wine and craft beer…

I tried the House Pot fish pie, and no, I didn’t see the word large anywhere on the menu! ….actually the pastry gently deflated into the wonderful fish dish.

New Zealand wine and local craft beers…….. how could we resist!

Fortunately we did enjoy our meal on the Waterfront, because the next morning, looking out of the window of our hotel room, onto the Botanic Gardens….the rain and wind from the cyclone had hit Wellington. We were hotel bound for a short while.

Perhaps because I live in the driest continent on earth,  my first thought, when I looked out of the window was….”well at least the Botanic Garden is getting some rain”

…and some!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud..

A cloud, a cloud, a white cloud…a long white cloud!”

This saying is attributed to Kuramarotini, a wife of the legendary Pacific voyager Kupe, on first sighting New Zealand.

On a sunny February day, we flew into the North Island of New Zealand, and Paul took this lovely photo of our first glimpse of the long white cloud.

New Zealand is a three hour flight from Canberra, Australia…it is closer to us than many parts of Australia.

The landscape is a little like Scotland, or perhaps some parts of Europe….far far removed from the Australian landscapes.

Aussies are well known for thinking hills are mountains..

We are visiting the North Island of New Zealand for our 40th wedding anniversary (amazing really….and still so young!).

As we landed in Wellington (the capital of New Zealand) we faced the tail end of a cyclone, which had earlier devastated the Pacific Island of Tonga.

However, like most potential problems in life it turned out to be less dramatic than expected.

I will do a post on the interesting capital city of Wellington, but first,  our absolute favourite part of the holiday, a visit to Lake Taupo.

This lake (impossible to fit into one photo) was created 2 thousand years ago by a volcanic eruption so big there were recordings of it as darkening skies at that time in Europe and China. It is now the biggest lake in Australasia, and roughly the size of Singapore!

Today it is a holiday place for many tourists and locals alike…….many wanting action packed and active holidays, skydiving, jet boat riding, white water rafting…

……we opted for a quiet southern end of the lake….  this is the view from our self-contained accommodation. Absolutely stunning view of the lake and not a jet boat in sight!

We are close to Tongariro National Park,  and Mount Ruapehu….

New Zealand’s summer is at its peak in February, and during this time, many European walkers come to New Zealand  to do the most popular all day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing…(perhaps some are just coming to escape the winter!)

We did a shorter very beautiful walk to a waterfall….

No wonder this area, along with other parts of New Zealand were filming sites for The Lord of the Rings trilogy…

Our reward was late morning tea/coffee in the Chateau Tongariro ….a reminder of genteel bygone days.

New Zealand is the land of rich and wonderful dairy produce…the cream  (and ice cream) is delicious!

On our last evening we decided to have a meal sitting on our lovely deck, looking at the sunset..

I’ve never seen so many black swans in one place….they fitted into the landscape perfectly…

Across the river was a small Maori village, with an elegant small church steeple just slightly in view. It was Sunday, and the local choir came and stood by the water, facing the church, as they sang most beautifully…..

We had smoked salmon, fresh baked potatoes and salad, locally baked bread, and some of New Zealand’s lovely wine….and our own choir..

A day to be remembered…

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved