Today was a day completely devoted to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Te Papa came highly recommended by everyone who had been there, and it definitely didn’t disappoint me. It is open every day of the week and costs nothing but offers so much. With six floors of exhibits, this place is able to highlight so many subjects that you’re sure to find something to love.
One of my favorite parts of the museum was a special immigration exhibit that explores firsthand experiences from immigrants to New Zealand. The people came from all over the world and for many reasons, and the written and verbal accounts of their journeys was extremely moving.
I also enjoyed the sea life exhibit that featured a gigantic preserved squid. It was cool in a disgusting way with all the tentacles floating around in a liquid, but I’m one of those people who can watch Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel endlessly so it didn’t really bother me.
Even after spending five hours in the museum, I wasn’t able to see it all. I would’ve stayed longer had my stomach not been screaming for some food. This was a good sign that I was recovering from my cold so I decided to heed the call. I stopped at the grocery store on my way back to the hostel to pick up some things for dinner and spent the rest of the night doing laundry and watching movies in the comfort of my bed. Despite having such a mellow day in Wellington, today was a good day.
I’m back in Wellington again! This time I have a week to explore the city instead of just a few hours. One of my main goals is to finally kick this cold. I feel as though I’m getting better, but the germs are still lingering and they’ve got to go!
I decided to take it easy today by just having myself a bit of a wander around town. Shortly after leaving the YHA, I met a Chinese woman and had a great conversation with her. She asked where I was from and what I was doing here. She said she loved Wellington because you can get anywhere within the CBD on foot.
After learning that I had a background in marketing and was looking for a job, she offered to take me to some places that might be able to help me. We went to the Wellington public library and the citizen’s advice bureau to get a list of all the employment agencies in the city. We also dropped in at Volunteer New Zealand, an organization that matched up people with various volunteer opportunities. Though we weren’t successful in securing a job for me, I did have a good start on the job hunt and appreciated the time she took out of her day to help me.
The open attitude and kindness toward strangers might surprise you, especially if you’re from a large city, but here in New Zealand it is more the norm than the abnormal. Maybe this is because a lot of the country is agriculturally based and the idea of helping a neighbor out is part of the way of life? Maybe there is a binding unity among a people who live quite geographically isolated from others? Maybe they just breed them a lot more generous here? Whatever the reason, it’s just another example of how special New Zealand is.
Today we said goodbye to the South Island and caught the ferry back to Wellington. I had an amazing time exploring its wilderness and grew to have a proper appreciation for its beauty. I wish I could’ve skipped getting sick though, but the overall experience was wonderful.
I especially enjoyed the wild west coast with miles of rocky shoreline and tumbling waves. Snowy Haast Pass was a revelation. Wanaka and Queenstown, both surrounded by mountains and fronting a lake, were my favorite cities, and I loved the absolute isolation at Abel Tasman.
There are so many great things to discover on the South Island. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a tramping fanatic, the South Island holds a world of activities and adventures for you. The best part about it is that you feel as though the world is at your fingertips. Less populated than the North Island, the South Island can provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of your every day life. It can help you recenter and reconnect with yourself without distractions and allows you to truly experience nature uncensored.