Trains, Cable Cars and Funky Plant Life
Wednesday, I was catching up with stuff during the morning, so didn't get moving till after lunch. I got the bus into central Wellington, and as it goes to the railway station, I stayed on it till there. Being a little bit of a train nerd, I popped in to have a look at some New Zealand trains.
All the trains present were what I would call EMUs (electrical multiple units). The most interesting was one called "The Cyclops", which is apparently the last single headlight train in New Zealand, and has been repainted in its original 1950s livery. I got chatting with one of the train workers, who took my photo in front of it.
Walking back towards town, I passed the parliament building and had a look. There are three main buildings, but the most recent one is an interesting round structure known as the Bee-hive.
I then got to Cable Car Lane, which leads to the Wellington Cable Car. This is like a funicular train, but is towed up the hill by a cable, while a second car comes down as a counterweight. The track splits in two where they meet in the middle.
At the top there's a little museum, in a building known as the winding house, which apparently is where the steam engines that powered the cars when they originally opened in 1902. Steam was replaced by electricity in the 1930s, but the whole mechanism was upgraded in the 1970s, and the smaller mechanism didn't need as much machinery, so the winding house became a museum.
One quite interesting thing about Wellington is that it has over 400 cable cars around the city, with many properties only accessible by cable car because of the steep terrain.
After a browse around there, I headed into the Botanic Gardens. There I saw a sign for the Carter observatory, but unfortunately I'd missed its last showing, so I made a mental note to come back.
Making my way down the winding path through the gardens, I was taken by the beauty of it all. I never felt far from the city, as for much of the walk I could either hear traffic, or see the surrounding hills with all the houses clinging to them. However, it was a wonderful oasis within the city. I especially loved the tree-ferns, which we don't see too many of in the northern hemisphere (at least not in Ireland), and looked wonderfully prehistoric.
One thing I heard was a bird (apart from the pigeons, most of the birds were also wonderfully unfamiliar too), with a call that sounded exactly like R2-D2. No idea what it was, though.
The lower section of the park was a graveyard, and I found it interesting to be in the botanic gardens, then find yourself surrounded by headstones, some of which looked quite creepy in the twilight.
I didn't plan things brilliantly, as this left me over near the parliament and railway station, so it might have made more sense to see those last. So I had a second trek across town to meet people for dinner, which will be the subject of a separate post. Fortunately Wellington is quite compact, so it wasn't terribly far to walk.