Monday, April 18, 2011

Absolutely Positively Wellington

"Absolutely Positively Wellington" is one of the slogans for New Zealand's capital.
"You can't beat Wellington on a good day!"(Not taken today)
And flying into Wellington you'll see why the pioneering "She'll be right, mate" reigns supreme here. The winds were sometimes gale force, the rain often torrential in our past three days here. 150-step stairways everywhere - but everywhere - you go. This city is waaay more vertiginous than San Francisco. And noone seems to notice. 

Stairs to my friend's house

The grocery pulley
Above is the 100-step staircase to my friend's house. She and her husband have lived here for 13 years with four kids and no driveway. At one stage she was heavily pregnant with a broken leg and the pulley thingy that carries her groceries was broken too. "Oh yeah" she'll laugh when you talk about the stairs, brushing it off: "You get used to it."

Harley in Wellington 12 years ago
Harley today (swing behind)
Baby Harley on the swing
I used to be an Absolutely Positive Wellingtonian too when I lived here for seven years as a student at Victoria University. All I remember is blue skies and sunny walks round town. "You must have been so fit as a student" said Kevin as we huffed and puffed up yet another flight of stairs to buy bagels. I honestly don't remember the stairs...or the wind or the rain.

"Oh it was so sunny just two days ago" everyone tells us. They said the same thing in January when I came here with Tallulah. (The rain chased us out of town to the coast where, if you remember we discovered two great new NZ baches)

This time: "At least it's not cold!" everyone said. (It was cold.) "Quite warm really. We're lucky."And the classic: "You can't beat Wellington on a good day!"

Wellington on a good day! (Not today...)
One of my friends' kids said simply: "The rain is just so comforting. "

Singing in the rain
Besides the weather, the City is totally unrecognisable from when I was a student. I established pretty early on that our old haunt, Scribblers pub, was gone.  There were probably many worthy museums here when I was a student but I failed to discover them.  My life as a law student for seven years was a golden triangle of the University caf' (discussing Constitutional Law obviously), the aforementioned Scribblers Public House (presumably again mooting Const. Law), and taking a small break from our constant talks about Const. Law to walk though the Haitaitai Tunnel to play netball for The Growlers.

What I recall as a vast wasteland of wharfspace is now parks, gardens, rock-climbing and Te Papa, the most majestically modern museum chock-ful of Kiwiana, culture and history, including old tea towels commemorating the engagement of Diana and Charles and experiencing an earthquake.

Te Papa


Outside Te Papa
Along the shore is the City and Sea museum which had an stunning hologram show of Maori legends.

Exotic restaurants line the streets with sublimely original dishes and cocktails. However sophisticated you think your palate, you'll be discombobulated by the offerings. In fact you can start to feel like a bit of a culinary plebeian reading the menus. One night some of the old gang gathered in what used to be a seedy part of town to eat at Havana , a Cuban restaurant  in two tiny Victorian houses. Drinks included The Naughty Wife with vodka, lychees and pink ginger and small dishes such as big olives with Donkey Greens, Super Mamouth and Kalamata. (whatever any of that was...)

Friends and I outside Havana

Friends at Havana
After three days we too became the Absolutely Positively Wellingtonians. Yes the rain was comforting. For a start it allows you to eat guilt-free all the comfort food you like. We found the choicest chips ever at General Practitioner, an old doctors' surgery which in my day was a house of ill repute.  How do you make these chips (fries) so blimin good we asked the waitress? "Boil, peel, fry, fry" she answered. And aren't those the most comforting words in the world?
General Practitioner


  1. Hi Jody,
    You're making me want to go to New Zealand someday! What a beautiful place.
    Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) is very hillie too. I did not exercise there but was in much better shape just living in the city and having to walk a lot - up hill both ways ;)
    I got my beautiful Coach wristlet yesterday!!! It's gorgeous! Love the colorful stripes. Will show it off on my blog soon. I think this is the only luxury item I have, and definitely the only Coach. Thank you so much!!!

  2. It looks like it would be such a small place with nothing to it, but NZ really seems something! I'd love to visit. The people there sound so cheerful. The 4 months that I spent in Australia was eye-opening, too. People down under (Aus and NZ) just seem so much more civilized and happy than here in North America. Love your descriptions!

  3. I can imagine people in that area would be in good shape from all of the climbing, but it's so refreshing to hear them look on the positive side of what some of us may see has hindrances or challenges. New Zealand looks beautiful - I must go there someday!

  4. Wow look at those stairs...and theres a pulley for the groceries. I couldnt imagine going up and down those being pregnant! Looks like a beautiful place and a great place to go to college. Thats so wonderful that you were able to reunite with old friends. Love the adorable little boy in the swing and how he has grown since then! :)

    I hope you have a wonderful day.

  5. I love reading about your travels and adventures! It's amazing the amount of stairs and walking you get used to there! I was amazed at the grocery pulley! Did you say 100 steps? That's unbelieveable. It sounds like such an enchanting, wonderful place to experience! Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. What gorgeous pictures! Love the travel posts! (That pulley thing is *genius* - a million dollar idea in SF, it would be. I could totally use one of those!

  7. Wonderful! I enjoyed imagining your student days discussing const. law (!) and playing netball. Netball! I used to play, too, but on the other side of the world in Jamaica. You make me want to go to NZ someday, and visit Wellington. I love how people attenuate to their surroundings, and find the silver linings.

  8. Mmm, comfort food, good friends and the rain--sounds like heaven! I have to know what those silver-y structures are? Are they solid sculptures? So cool! Glad you are having a lovely time! You're making me long for vacation!

    xo Mary Jo

  9. my husband and i plan to move to New Zealand (or perhaps Australia) when he finishes residency. very exciting!

  10. It sounds like you're having a fantastic trip. I love seeing the picture of Harley... past and present. I look forward to hearing more!

  11. Jody- Writing from rainy Portland, Oregon today!

    Love these trip pics. "The Grocery Pulley" is just too much! What determined friends you have to hike like that every day. But the view from there house looks so worth it!

    What a beautiful city. I can see how much fun you are having!


  12. Hi, I have pop over from the blogging carnival and couldnt help but notice this post.. I am from Wellington been in London 10 years, brillant post.. but i would say that..


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...