Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bicycle Commuting is Alive and Well…


Day 36


…In Wellington. We spent the day touring the city and to our delight saw many people navigating their bicycles around the streets.

Before I review the day, I wanted to give Chris a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout out. Today is his 33rd birthday.

We left the campervan behind today and took the bus downtown. I’ve always been a fan of using public transportation to see big cities. So far we’ve been able to get around pretty well in all the cities we have toured.
Our tour of the city basically focused on a 1.5km area. We started by riding the cable car up the hill above downtown to the botanical gardens. From there we worked our way back to town by strolling through natural looking areas of native and imported species. We eventually wound our way around to the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens. Unfortunately, the roses were not yet in bloom, but you could sense how beautiful the 100 different varieties would be.
We continued our walking tour back into the city center through an old cemetery. It seemed to be a well frequented place, with many people walking and running on the path. After crossing the motorway we came upon our next activity, a tour of the parliament buildings.
The start of the tour was different than what you might expect. Our guide first took us to the basement to show us how the building was retro-fitted in the mid 90s to withstand earthquakes. The Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library were essentially separated from their original foundation and put on 400 rubber “springs”. This technique, called base isolation, is supposed to “reduce the transfer of earthquake forces from the foundations to the building above…”. In the end, it reduces the need for strengthening the walls in the buildings themselves. It was quite a feat of engineering. Another highlight was the tour into The House of Representatives Debate Chamber. We got a good overview of the protocol and traditions that have been going on since the 1850s.
Our final sight of the day was Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. Having learned from previous museum experiences, we picked just a couple of exhibits to view. Since the landscapes are so dramatic in New Zealand, we picked the Awesome Forces exhibit. It wasn’t your run of the mill collection of glass-cased enclosures. We were treated to a whole range of interactive displays focusing on how the forces of nature have shaped the landscape of this island country. Most intriguing was a copy of the first seismograph developed in 132 A.D. coming from China.
Finally we celebrated Chris’ birthday in style at the Wellington Brewing Company (of course). We sampled their local brew, Sassy Red, with standard pub fare. It was a fitting end to our tour of this very hip and cosmopolitan city.
Tomorrow we’re off on the ferry and the start of a new adventure on the South Island.


JennSean said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRIS!!! Hope you had a fantastic day!!
-SK & JH

Awesome Adam said...

Happy Birthday to Cool Chris. Hope all is well with you both.