It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Wellington, NZ. This capital city is located on the southern most point of the north island There was little traffic in the city because the government is effectively closed on the weekend.
Our excursion group was small and we were being driven around in a small four wheel drive van designed for rugged terrain. Our first stop was at a small park in the suburbs of the city. In the park there were several different areas where the guide could introduce our group to both the culture and natural beauty of this island nation.
One of the first things we learned was that the people of New Zealand were considering changing their flag from:
to a new flag that highlights the Silver Fern instead of the Union Jack http://www.silverfernflag.org/proposal.html
In my picture post on Facebook on January 2nd you will see a picture of the silver fern plant. It is actually quite beautiful. The fern grows as a tree that can reach heights of ten meters. Each year a new layer of growth appears at the top of the tree. The underside of the fern leaf has a shiny silvery color.From the park we went to an outlook far above the city to get a panoramic view of the city and the bay. I included a picture from there as well. If you look at the center bottom of that picture you can see a beehive shaped building that houses the country’s legislature.
Now comes the interesting part of the tour. From that outlook point, we climbed even higher into the mountains to see the wind farm of 62 wind turbines installed under Project West Wind. The turbines were installed along the peaks in the mountains rising up from Cook Bay between the two main islands. The wind is strong and constant which is perfect for this type of project. I also included a short video of one of the turbines where you can get a good idea of the local weather conditions.
We traveled along a paved road that went from peak to peak and windmill to windmill until we reached the eastern end of the road. We then traveled down to what was called Red Rocks Walkway that runs along the beach that faces south toward the southern island. After a short trip along the very rugged walkway (climbing over loose rock most of the way) we came abreast of a small leaning lighthouse out in the bay. We stopped here and were guided to an area were several male fur seals were basking in the sun. I included three pictures from that area. One of the lighthouse, one of a sea lion, and one of Alice dressed up for the cool windy weather.
Needless to say, this was quite an adventure. We even go to look over Cook Straight to see Cloudy Bay, where one of our favorite wines (their Sauvignon Blanc) is produced. It was too bad that the cruise stops did not allow for a trip to the winery.