And so I am in Wellington. What does that mean? It means I’m in New Zealand’s capital city. It means I’ve arrived at my southernmost destination in the country’s northern island. It means that I really, really need to figure out some sort of map feature for this blog so that you all know what the heck I’m talking about.
That being said, getting from Tongariro National Park yesterday morning to the youth hostel I’m currently buying wifi from has been a pretty interesting experience.
It’s about a six-hour drive from Tongariro to Wellington so, in the interest of not driving everyone crazy, our bus driver made a few stops along the way yesterday. The first was in a small town called Taihape. Taihape, as everyone knows, is famous for its world gumboot-throwing championships. Wait, what’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Taihape? Or a gumboot? I hadn’t either before yesterday but, nevertheless, I had a go at shot-putting a giant rubber rain boot at the town’s purpose-built arena.
The male and female world champions — yes, they compete right here, folks, in the thunder-dome of the sport — are both Finnish, apparently, and have thrown the ol’ boot about 30 meters and 60 meters, respectively. My own throw would sound much less impressive metrically, so let’s say it was about 15 feet.
Next stop, Levin. Apparently our driver used to cruise right through this little town without even bothering to wake up his sleeping passengers for commentary. But then, after some Googling, he discovered that Levin is home to the World’s Greatest Playground. I can attest to the fact that this is 100% true. I’ve noticed already in my time here that, all over the country, NZ still has those awesomely dangerous playground apparati that towns in the States began phasing out years ago due to concerns such as “child safety.” And here they paint them them slick primary colors instead of letting them acquire that nice rusty patina. Some kid may get a concussion from these rides, but he probably won’t get tetanis. I think it’s brilliant.
One final stop before reaching Wellington: a little town called Bulls. Here, everything revolves around plays on words. Or, rather, just on the word “bull.” The bar is called “Socia-bulls,” the Real Estate office is “Lista-bulls,” the ice cream shop is “Licka-bulls” — you get the picture.
Then, finally, we pulled into Wellington around 3:00 p.m. I’d go so far as to even say we “cruised” into Wellington; after six years on the Bolt Bus I’d never seen a huge bus roll into a major city with so little vehicular resistance from all sides. But our driver seemed to think we were hitting a frustrating amount of traffic thanks to the rugby match taking place at the city’s Westpac Arena.
Oh, right — the rugby match…