The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

Rosemary Monk continues the story of her recent holiday in New Zealand and Australia.

We left Picton on an early morning ferry heading to Wellington on North Island. It was a beautiful morning and we were escorted out of the Marlborough Sounds by a dolphin. We disembarked in Wellington at midday and drove out to the camp site at Newlands, on the outskirts. After a quick shower and lunch we caught the bus back into the city. The bus drivers are wonderfully helpful with directions and timetable information. We could take a lesson from them here in the UK!!

We headed for Lambton Quay. This was originally the waterfront but as land has been reclaimed from the harbour it is now the main shopping street, two streets further away from the modern waterfront. We took the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens and enjoyed the views across the city and discovered the Carter Observatory, with its Human Sundial, and New Zealand’s longest serving Scout Hut. The Troop were founded in 1909 and moved into the Lawson Scout Hall in 1913 when it was no longer needed to house the gun emplacement volunteers who manned the city defences on the hill top.

Christmas & New Year 2015/6

Kiwi Travels - Part 4

Back at sea level we walked down to the waterfront and enjoyed the sunshine and people watching. The local rowing club were out practising and a couple of dragon boat teams were racing across the harbour. Avoiding the skateboarders, we read the roundels in the pavement and the various memorials along the walls. It was interesting to see the Polish Children of Pahiatua plaque. It was erected in 2004 to commemorate the fact that 733 children and 105 adult caregivers arrived as refugees on the USS General Randall at the end of October 1944. They were invited by the Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, to stay for the remainder of the war following the loss of their homes and families after the German invasion and then the USSR occupation of Poland. 1,700,000 Poles were deported to the USSR! After the war the Yalta Agreement made it impossible for the refugees to return so they accepted the offer to stay. The memorial records that:

“They became self sufficient, hard working loyal citizens and 60 years later, together with their families, they say thank you to the New Zealand Government, Army, Catholic Church, caregivers, teachers and all who extended a helping hand.”    Interesting reading in 2015.

We continued our wanderings back to the bus station and admired the beautiful wooden Old Government buildings, which look as if they are built in stone, and the more modern Parliament Buildings (1922). Next door is the iconic “Beehive,” used as government offices. We took the opportunity to use the Kodak shop to download our South Island photographs onto a disc – in case of disaster with the camera. Back at the camp site we discovered that it was now nearly full, as was the attached Motel. There was a lot of early morning movement the next day as people heading south left for the ferry.

We took the bus back into Wellington again, pleased to find that it still didn’t live up to its “Windy Welly” reputation. There was enough of a breeze to make the heat pleasant. The morning was spent exploring the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. There was plenty to keep us interested, including a room that gave you an earthquake experience, lots of Maori history and a display relating to Air New Zealand, including the wonderful, amusing safety videos that they use to “entertain” people while delivering the safety info. You could probably spend several days here but lunch and the rest of Wellington called us. We walked back along Lambton Quay to the Beehive and round to the St Paul’s Cathedral. As seems usual, it took several decades and changes of design to come up with the completed building, opened in 1998. It is a lovely light building and modern, without being too outrageous. There is a beautiful patchwork hanging behind the main altar. The Lady Chapel is a relocated wooden church from the Kapiti coast, north of Wellington. It is a complete contrast to the main building. Having seen the modern Cathedral we then went to find Old St. Paul’s, a couple of streets away. It was the original Cathedral Church and is built in an early English Gothic style but made entirely of native timbers, including its nails. Built in 1866 on the site of Pipitea Pa (Maori settlement) it served the city until the 1960’s, when its future looked uncertain. Fortunately the building was saved and restored and, while still consecrated, is used for cultural events.

They quite expected to hear that Wellington had been razed to the ground. We parked on the drive for our overnight stop and enjoyed an evening stroll round Monaco – the area of Nelson popular for sailing. Our favourite road sign was spotted here in a quiet residential street facing the beach. “Warning! Rug Rats and Old Biddies all over the place”.

Our last port of call was the Parliament Buildings where we discovered that we could go into the main chamber to listen to the debate. There was a quick security check before we were given pass badges and allowed to go up to the gallery. We listened to debates on disability access and conservation before deciding that we needed to head back to our trusty camper van. We fell asleep to the sound of fireworks being used to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Rosemary Monk