Wellington (Or: Road Tripping)

Trip Start Mar 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 06, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, August 4, 2008

We flew from Christchurch on the South Island to Wellington, which is at the very south end of the North Island.  From here, the plan is to rent a car and drive the rest of the way up north.  It was cold and raining when we arrived in the afternoon, so we weren't looking forward to driving.  Because Jeremy's driver's license expired in the middle of the trip and the replacement was back home, we decided that I would be doing all the driving.  For those of you who've lived through my driving (or heard Jeremy describe the tales), you know that I'm a bit dodgy behind the wheel.  But now I'm rusty because I haven't driven in 5 months.  And I'm in a new country.  And most of all, I'm supposed to be driving on the other side of the road.

So we pick up the car and I'm totally confused because everything's on the wrong side.  I keep turning on the windshield wipers when I try to turn on my signal.  I almost open my door when I try to put the car in reverse.  And Jeremy's constantly yelling at me to "stay in the left lane!"  Plus, New Zealand has these crazy roundabouts instead of normal intersections and I can't figure out when it's my turn to go.  The hotel is only a few miles away, but it took us ages to get there. 

Because we arrive in Wellington so late in the afternoon, the only thing we have time to do is go to the Te Papa museum.  Te Papa is one of the most impressive museums in New Zealand and was built at a cost of something like 315 million dollars.  It's a beautiful modern building on the harbor with gorgeous views of the ocean.  The museum has a great collection of Maori art and artifacts, and all the signs are written in both English and Maori.  (Maori is a close cousin of Hawaiian, so the two languages are quite similar.  The women's restroom sign said "wahine".  Many towns have Maori names, so they look like 42 vowels strung together with one or two consonants.)  Te Papa has a lot of interactive exhibits that are especially great for kids.  And it has a nice collection of modern art by local artists.  We had a fantastic time at the museum and barely scratched the surface in the two hours we were there.    

Tomorrow, our real road trip begins.  Please say a prayer for all the brave New Zealand drivers who are sharing the road with us for the next week. 
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