Middle of Middle Earth

Last week was the Hobbit premiere in Wellington.

The Embassy, the cinema where the premiere took place, appropriately decorated:

01 Embassy mit Gandalf und Hobbitbuehne04 Gandalf und Hobbithoehle auf Embassy

Also the building next to it had a touch of Middle Earth:

05 Wlg mitten in Mittelerde

The airport was no different, with the baggage reclaim being a hobbit hole:

03 Gepaeckabholung aus der Hobbithoehle

And then there’s Gollum in the arrivals hall:

02 Gollum im Flughafen

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Big week

It’s been a really busy week at work, and the weekend was not much different.

11 ships of the navy have come here for the weekend for some sort of historial ceremonial thingy. Some of ships were open to the public yesterday and today, but the queues were just as impressive as the ships so I didn’t even attempt to get on. Here’s one of them, on a peaceful weekday morning hence no crowd anywhere:

Sept11 Te Kaha von naeher

On Friday night, I ended up finishing work really late so it was already getting dark, which was just in time for the light show around the fan zone (that’s for the rugby world cup that is currently going on here). This is quite cool, where ordinary buildings are being turned into anything from corrugated iron sheds to vine overgrown Roman villas. You can’t see it that well from the photo, but it gives you an idea what it’s like here at night at the moment:

Sept 11 RWC fan zone

Then into town again yesterday afternoon, where I was surprised by the huge number of people on the waterfront. It was as busy as downtown Munich! Lots of French and Tongan rugby fans out and about, marine officers in uniforms, families, tourists. And a protest march against the search and surveillance bill which was quite hilarious in the general context.

Into town again this afternoon, to watch the All Blacks match against Canada. That’s not so much because I would have turned into a rugby fan, but more for the experience. It was really good, very friendly atmosphere, just lots of people of all ages & nationality watching the game. Similar to the soccer world cup in Germany in 2006, but different since NZ being a small country thus making the huge number of foreign visitors a lot more noticeable.

Wellington photos

A few Wellington impression from my walks home from work

Wildlife:

Huehner  auf Mt Vic

The Tararuas in the background (with snow on top):

Tararuas mit Schnee

Centre of Wellington in the evening (from Mt Vic):

Wellington am Abend von Mt VicYesterday’s trip to Island Bay

I went to the dive shops there yesterday, to buy a mask and snorkel for my holidays. Island Bay is a suburb in the South, and it’s really nice there.

The island:

Island Bay mit Oyster catchers

Bootshaus oder Hausboot:

Island Bay Boothaus Today’s Miramar walk

As I had forgotten my smartcard for the bus this morning when I went to the market, I ended up buying a day ticket which turned out brilliantly. It’s been a really lovely day, so I jumped on the bus again in the afternoon and went out to Miramar, a suburb a bit further to the East. Here are a few pictures from my walk.

View from the hill top:

Miramar Blick vom Huegel Richtung Matiu Somes Island

The coast:

 Miramar Kueste

More coast (in the other direction):

Miramar Blick Richtung Cook Strait

Wood carving on top of the cliffs:

Miramar Schnitzerei

Random stuff

I went home over the hill after work quite a few times since the course has finished. I used to go around the bays, but during peak hour the road is too noisy, whereas it’s all piece and quiet on the hill. Quite often, particularly after dark, there’s no one else there, and it’s really nice. You’re out of the wind in the trees, and the air is fresh and has this nice forest smell. All of this right in the middle of a city

There are also a couple of spots where spectacular views open up between the trees. Here’s my favourite:

Blick auf Wlg

Did you know that NZ has a bit of a drink driving issue? Here’s a number plate you would not voluntarily choose in Germany, unless you like being harrassed by the police:

Alk

Funny eh… but Stuttgart number plates such as S-EX would never happen here, as this is seen as offensive.

Party weekend

There was the first Kilbirnie town centre planning workshop this week. I’m on the planning group as a resident. One of the things I found quite interesting was that it gave me an idea how people here think.

Other than than, a couple more nice sunrises:

Harbour sunrise

I particularly like the fake iceberg to remind of climate change:

Fake iceberg

Tonight my flatmate is having a big party for her 30th birthday which was on Tuesday. I haven’t been out for a while, so it’s going to be fun. We baked a big chocolate cake for her, I can’t wait to try it.

Bday cake for Lenka

Does anyone know how to grow broccoli so that it gets this big green bulky head? Mine grow small heads, and have now started to flower. In August!!!! But it’s nice to have home grown vegies in winter.

A few more minutes and the bread will be done and I can go home again. I need to be ready to go by six & still have to decide what to wear, oooh.

Good news

I’ve got the job!!! The reference checks went well, and I can start tomorrow. It’s quite exciting for me, new country AND a new sort of job. As a new immigrant, I had expected to have to step back and do jobs below my level of experience for a while. Instead, it seems to be uphill from the start for me. Uphill also meaning a bit of a challenge though, so I will have to roll up my sleeves and work hard to make these three months a success.

Last Friday was a holiday, one of four when the World War II fortress on top of Wright’s hill is opened for the public. Went there to have a look at the tunnels, and enjoyed the great view of Wellington Harbour from the top of the hill.

Wellington Harbour von Wrights Hill

Spent most of the afternoon in Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. That’s a predator-free valley of regenerating bush where you can see animals in the wild that are otherwise extinct or endangered. I’m usually not that interested in birds, but NZ wildlife is a lot about birds, so now I’ve seen Kaka, Hihi, Tui and some other I couldn’t identify. I also saw Tuatara, an ancient reptile species.

On Saturday, Pete and I did the Rimutaka rail trail, a cycle track along a former railway line. It’s smooth enough for my bike, and my flash sensor-controlled bike lights turned out to be sufficiently dim to make the tunnels a bit scary to ride through.

Summer in the City

No bad weather in sight, so overcast will have to do.

I am having a great weekend at the moment. The start was not so great, actually, since Eric had passed on his nasty cold to Pete and he gave it to me so Saturday was devoted to setting sneezing records.

Yesterday was a brilliant day, warm, sunny and no wind! Remember, this is windy Wellington. I haven’t much of a life here yet (if you define life as working and all different sorts of engagements and never having enough time for the things you would really like to do). But there is one weekly event that’s marked as “not to be missed” and that’s the weekly market in town. It’s not just good prices that attract me to it so much, but also the great variety of vegies I have no idea about what they are, let alone what to do with it. Will soon start some serious experimenting, but for this week green beans will be enough of a challenge. And a butterfish, now sitting in the fridge chilling out from the hot bike ride back. I bought it directly from the fishermen on their boat, never had such an opportunity before, wow, this was really cool.

Last weekend there was some sports stuff going on here on the beach, so I went to watch thundercat racing for a while.

18_Thundercatcompr

This all happened on the beach down the road by the way, and that’s how it looks like on a normal day. In the background you can see the airport. Great plane-watching, if you like that sort of thing.

24_Lyall Beachcompr

Talking about beaches, there is another one right in the center of town:

21_Oriental Beachcompr

And many more, around the bays within easy reach by bike. Jealous now? Well, next winter is just a few months away and then it will be me wishing for some sunshine.

Apart from the sporty type of events, there is other entertaining stuff going on here in summer for free. For three weeks, the botanic garden at night is a major attraction. There are free concerts every night, and part of the garden is illuminated in different colours after dark. The bands must have been picked to offer something for all people of all ages, and the audience was everyone from little kids to grandparents. I went there yesterday evening, and the whole garden was a big picknick ground, with people everywhere. Security was not nearly as strict as it would be in Germany, where I would have been chased off my little patch on the footpath immediately.

Will now grab the Lonely Planet and go into town for some serious sightseeing.