Wellington – A town stuck in two places

For those of you that didn’t know Wellington is the capital of New Zealand not it’s much larger Northern cousin Auckland.

So the city has the Parliament buildings and national institutions including galleries and museums and a business district complete with tall skyscrapers. Elsewhere however the city remains full of colonial buildings and homes, helping to turn this capital city into a visible outpost of the former Empire.

It is not just the buildings tall or colonial where this battle for identity is being played out. Ok I saw this in Taupo in an Estate Agents window, but I am guessing it wouldn’t have been out of place in Wellington. I quote from details for a house “…and there is a little veg garden at the back for mum.” I am wondering how many nano seconds it would take for such a comment back in the UK to go viral and for the offending estate agent to be hung and quartered…..I was expecting to read ‘mum would also enjoy cooking in the fully equipped kitchen whilst her man whilst enjoying a cold one on the decking….’

We ate in a restaurant called the Five Stags down by Courtney Place if anyone knows it. Nice place, good atmosphere, sound food at a reasonable price. No consider this establishment appears to be in one of the busiest social areas of the town on a Saturday night…. So I was a little bemused at the sight of the guy on the next table who had carefully placed his rucksack/day bag behind him out of the way. Perhaps it is the cynicism that comes from living in the UK but I couldn’t help but thinking that back home the guy would have parted company with his rucksack somewhere between his starter and mains….

When in a foreign town, especially yet another one that claims to be a ‘coffee capital’ a pretty safe bet and arguably more refreshing is a nice cup of tea. Now in the UK if you ask for tea in Starbucks, Costa or anywhere else for that matter the order goes no where near the barista, the cashier will grab a cup, sling a tea bag in it, fill it with water and point you at the milk. Not here, the record for waiting for a pot of tea was about 14 minutes and we only got it then because I could see it languishing on the side waiting to be collected by a waitress. You could argue this is better service, I just think it was frequently and needlessly slow.

My final example of not quite being up to speed is a petrol forecourt. So I stopped to fill up the hire car and trying to work out how to select pay in shop instead of pay at pump – both options being available, when a very kindly and polite attendant popped along and filled my tank up for me. Now this was a large forecourt with it’s own BK’s built into it, large shop, sophisticated EPOS technology and they still felt the need to have an attendant…. This is a wonderful example of a town being stuck in two places….trying to be modern and sophisticated but in reality clinging onto their past a bit too tightly….

Oh I forgot the advert on national TV for some product to prevent the udders of diary cows getting chaffed… And the regional TV is as almost as hysterical as the worst of local US TV….(if I am going to offend lets share it around a little).

New Zealand is a wonderful country, and I have really enjoyed my visit so far and have liked the people I have met….Kiwi’s, Irish, Jock’s (a lot) and a very polite Geordie, however reading back what I have written here it would appear critical and condescending. Probably it is, I am sorry, these are just some observations I have made.

At the end of my trip advisor reviews I try to indicate (when I remember) if I would be happy to visit or stay again. So far for New Zealand I would visit again if given the opportunity in a heart beat. To stay (and live) would be a different answer. Probably I am already too old and I am too use, even in my Worcestershire home, to doing things at pace, to flitting around Europe and so on. New Zealand feels and really is a long way from anywhere.


About hallowjack

A bloke who wanders around the world from time to time.
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