Wellington on Thursday, December 1st

I usually wake up early, no matter what, which is okay ... I seem to appreciate more morning time, especially when I know a heated indoor pool is right around the corner from my hotel room.  At 6:15, I was out the door and into the pool, where I spent 15 carefree moments sallying back and forth in that wonderful pool, all by myself.  Back in the room, I commenced getting ready for our day.

Parliament House 

In case you're wondering, this particular Road Scholar (RS) month-long trip is called "An Odyssey Down Under," and the first half of the program is spent in New Zealand.  RS trips combine learning with discovery and travel and fun ... adventures designed to open our minds to new ideas and understanding of the world's peoples, places, cultures, history and environments.  If you think this might be boring, guess again ... it isn't.  And we can ask the questions, you betcha!  We get answers, too!  All of us are excited to be a part of where we are today.  Our group is diverse, as you would expect, from PhD's to just plain folk, most of us retirees (or part-time retirees), couples, solos, and friends.  Each day is full, always different, a smattering of this, a dollop of that, and/or an inclusive lecture on something relevant, and today includes learning how New Zealand operates.  Believe me, it's quite different from the US.  Personally, being away from the constant barrage of US politics has been a real godsend.

I know these are just building photos, below, but how often do you get the opportunity to see New Zealand's governmental buildings? 

Bowen House (left), The Beehive, and Parliament House (Parliamentary Library, below).

New Zealand Parliamentary Library.
We didn't get a chance to go into this lovely building.

New Zealand's largest and grandest wooden building, built in 1876 to house New Zealand's new central government.  Detail of lion and unicorn below.

Our guide, Tim Marwick led us on our field trip through the parliament buildings, where we toured the House of Parliament.  NZ is actually a constitutional monarchy, divided into three parts:  Legislature (parliament), Executive (ministers), and Judiciary.  I'm not going to delve into this because you can look it up if you want to learn more.

A short walk led us to the Supreme Court, established in 2004, which replaced the Privy Council based in London.  I'm sorry I can't remember the lady's name who gave us the tour, but she was fantastic (above).  As good as she was, however, I fell in love with the building itself.  The site chosen was adjacent to the old High Court building (the elegant late-Victorian structure dating from 1897). The interior is finished in 2294 panels of native silver beech timber (from sustainable sources) with varied surfaces to enhance acoustics. The courtroom is shaped like an orb and the interior paneling was inspired by the spiral diamond patters of the kauri cone.  It is a stunning work of art.

Enough of politics, I say!  We haven't eaten in hours -- let's go to lunch!

Oh boy, lunch at the Thistle Inn, since 1840.  We ate well.

The Thistle Inn received the second liquor license issued in New Zealand and is New Zealand's oldest surviving tavern and restaurant operating from its original site. Destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1866, the diminutive Thistle Inn has stood in modest splendor on the same spot for the last 175 years.

We liked this Māori picture.  Not sure if it represents Te Rauparaha or not. 

Our group was led to a back room for a plated lunch (I had the Barramundi fish).
Garrett is smiling in front, and Jimmy is "waving" in back.

After lunch, we were set free!  Free time to explore the city, visit free museums, walk along the waterfront.  We did them all; we walked and we walked and we walked.  Above is the Academy of Fine Arts.

I want to make clear that none of us is under obligation to go to a lecture or participate in any activity. That being said, no one wants to miss out on a single thing, because 99% are well worth attending.  (I did skip one lecture, but I forget which one!)

Wellington Museum.

Waterfront walking is safe, and you can't get lost if you keep the water on your left when you're returning to the hotel (so sayeth Albert)! 

Dinner was also on our own this evening.  Some of us chose to eat at Ortega Fish Shack, an easy downhill walk, and since we were still sated from lunch, most of us chose what New Zealanders call "entrees," which, in the states, would qualify as appetizers.  One or two of those entrees were deemed too dinky, but I liked mine.  A few people ordered main courses.  It was the usual good-natured fun, and then we trooped back up the hill.

I can't speak for the top part of the sign below, but I think the advertising logo for the food might qualify as the worst!  I'm not even sure where I saw this sign, but I thought it was funny.

We enjoyed another full day and Jimmy and I were comfortably ready for bed at an early hour.  Tomorrow will be a special treat, for the likes of me anyway, as we visit Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary.  Really looking forward to that!


  1. Weather sure seems to be cooperating for your trip. I'm jealous of all that walking you're doing, my tush has barely left the couch for the past month thanks to a combination of carpal tunnel surgeries, freezing weather and laziness.

  2. Such beautiful buildings!

  3. We were thinking we'd explore the government buildings when we are in Wellington in Feb, but have changed our minds, so I'm glad you showed me a bit of the interiors. The RS trips sound like great fun. I have the one you took to the Himalayas on my options list. Now I'm going to go read your next post as that is where we hope to go if the weather cooperates.


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