The last week of our trip we spent in Wellington. Initially, we were planing on visiting Rotorua in the North Island, but we got tired, didn't feel like squeezing another park in and liked Leri's house too much :)
We ended up spending the entire week in Wellington at our friend Leri's place. We know each other from San Francisco where we were neighbors for a while and it was very nice to see him again. Thank you Leri, you are an awesome host.
Downtown looks a little like a Lego land. It is colorful with a mix of different architecture that does not really go together, but in the end the mix looks cool. Wellington feels very artistic and has a hippy feel to it. You see young people walk around barefoot.
In Wellington we walked around a lot, going back a couple of times to the cool Cuba street. It is a mixture of the Union Square on one end and the Haight street on the other end. There are great coffee shops, little boutiques and cool street art. The Botanic Garden was very pretty too with great views of the city.
Our favorite visit was the Te Papa museum, which has a great permanent exhibit on the Maori culture. Visiting the museum, you could feel the pride of this cultural background in New Zealand. We did not know that the Maori language was the official language in NZ. Or that the Maori were not defeated by the British but signed a treaty. Their art is integrated in architecture and design. It is present everywhere.
At Te Papa they had another great exhibit "Blood, Earth, Fire", which is about the pride and respect for the land, its beauty and people. There was a great 20 minute video "Our Place", presenting a patchwork of people from different backgrounds and origins, in different parts of the country, urban and rural. Each person was telling his or her story and their bounds to the country. It was really well done, pretty to look at and very funny at times. If I were a Kiwi, I would be so proud of being from there after watching this video.
Leri was not the only person we knew in Wellington. Two old GKR crew members Dan and Adam, and 5 old Tippetters: Todd, Jance, Yasmin, Joe & Austin, work at Weta now. The company which created the effects for "The Lord of the Ring" trilogy and "King Kong". It was very nice to see them all and a little weird at the same time. It was like we were back in San Francisco again.
The day I met up with them at the office, waiting for them at the reception gave me a knot in my stomach......WORK!
I know I will be happy to animate again when I go back to SF, but I am afraid of the day when I will have to give again 75% of my life to work. Right now a 100% of it is mine, and I am so f...ing happy!
On one of our walks, we had crepes at a French creperie. The owner was from Camaray, Bretagne and 9 months ago moved to Wellington with his wife and three boys age 11,14 & 15. He just wanted a new life. Never traveled anywhere before. He thought about moving to England but it was too close to home. He wanted to go far. It was funny to listen to him. The reasons why he moved were the exact same reasons why I moved to San Francisco. There is no appropriate age to change direction in your life. It does not especially start freezing as you get older. All of these people we have met on this trip are so inspiring to me.
Well, I can say it again and again. I loved NZ. Would love to go back and visit more (we only saw the South Island), maybe even live there for a year...
People seem to be easy going and very friendly. Maybe because there are only 4 mil of them. If you compare the size of NZ & density of population to the UK:
land area: 103,734 sq mi/268,671 sq km
density per sq km: 15 :)
land area: 93,278 sq mi/241,590 sq km
density per sq km: 652 :0
It was so nice to be on the road and have it all to yourself, or go on a hike and be alone. Probably because there are less people, there is less crime, problems, less pressure, everybody is more relaxed and happy.
One thing that fascinated me about NZ is that there are no predators, no large mammals. The largest mammal on the island was the blind bat, then the Europeans brought cows, sheep, deer, rabbits, possum (now a huge problem in NZ).
They have a social system. Their prime minister drives himself to work.
It probably isn't all that great there. Maybe I'm idealising too much.
We did hear a few complaints about NZ and the first one would be - lack of things to buy. Apparently, NZ is not good for shopping. Things are just not available as in the US, so you have to order and wait that they make it. Our friends did mention that it helped them save a lot of money :) Exactly, that is how you save money, you just stop buying stuff!
We also heard about the TPS - tall poppy syndrome, people here don't like it when someone stands out from the rest, either because of their talent or achievements, so their mates openly critisize and resent them.
Long time ago when I lived in Germany with my mom, we were looking into different countries to immigrate to and NZ was one of them. We ended up moving to the US, but being here I keep wondering how different my life would have been had we moved here instead. I would probably be married with children by now :)
On the 26th of March we left NZ for a new continent.
De Gokyo à Lukla...
6 months ago