Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 3 Te Papa, Beach and Wind energy

A slight shower greeted us Sunday morning and we spent an hour of so hunting down a friend's family history at Petone library.
To our surprise we found a connection with Sandra's family... is everyone in New Zealand related in some way to another in the Hawkes Bay area????

Wellington promised to live us to Melbourne's weather reputation as four seasons in one day... as the sun came out, allowing us to have a picnic lunch on the beach. The children had a great time and I saw the harbour at its best. It really is a huge natural harbour surrounding by breathtaking mountains and forest.

The old part of Wellington has some beautiful houses:many perched on the absolute top of the ridge, and especially around Oriental Bay, one could be forgiven for thinking you were in San Francisco.

After all, New Zealand is on a fault line, has a cable car, has houses perched on perilously steep cliffs and mountain sides, ending in a beautiful harbour, and lots of wooden architecture of the early 20's - 30's prevails... then there is the earthquake issue.New Zealand had around 15,000 earthquakes each year, mostly in the North Island, but very few are felt. The town centre in Napier in Hawkes Bay was flattened in 1987 from a big quake.

There is footage of this in the Te Papa Museum, central Wellington, which h
as free entry. An earthquake house gives a simulation of what it was like to be in Napier on that fateful day. The terrible rumbling the pre-empts the shaking and rattling, and movement is ominously terrifying. Really gives you an idea without experiencing the danger, of what it is like to live through such an event.

The Moari exhibits are also interesting and one can sit inside a Moari meeting house where they occasionally hold council meetings.... it is quite dark inside but has an atmosphere of solemnity and seriousness.

Don't forget to see the Kiwi and the Gian
t Squid, both preserved and dead of course. Children are well catered for too, with dress ups, games, activities and play areas that allow for interactive learning.

Travelling through the main centre of Wellington, we had a quick peek at the BEEHIVE, a name given to the buildin
g that houses the National parliament. A rather stately old building stood nearby in the form of the Parlimentary Library.

We did stop to se
e the Cable car and the magnificient view from its top station, but did not have time for a ride. There is a small museum in the top station that outlines the history of the Cable car, some older examples of the cars and you can go downstairs to see the cable mechanism at work.

The largest wooden building in Wellington and a truly unique fully timbered church where my cousins parents were married was secondary stops on our way to the Wind Turbines atop the Karori Reserve. Some energetic Wellingtonians were jogging up the narrow 5 kilometre road in very windy conditions. We almost got blown away! The wind turbine was the first and it was experiemental, built with Danish technology. While being able to sustain winds of up to 200km/h, it shuts down when the winds goes over 80km/h.

The experim
ent was a success so several more turbines were installed to feed in to the city's power grid. This is really something for cities with regular strong winds to ponder about.... but I guess you do need a back up on a still day.....

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