Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Travellers Poem

A Journey

Highways; smooth and comfortable,

fast paced or crowded crawling progress.
Numbing the mind as you pass the mundane.

Narrow, curving back-roads, a challenge,
Focus or fall.
Catching sight of passing beauty.
Landscapes of diversity, colour, season.

Onward, past the beauty and the mundane.
Excersing skill or just cruising.
Always moving onm toward the end,
toward that inescapable destination.

Tegan Morris (March 2010)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The starting post

The inspiration for the trip was my friend’s birthday in Palmerston North and once I got onto the planning buzz it seemed worth making a real adventure of it and going to explore Wellington also. I had three people who supported me on this trip and we all travelled in "The Beast" (my parents van).

We stopped for our breakfast on our way to Palmerston North in Taupo, which had plenty of cafes to choose from. The paths and crossings around the town seemed to be good for wheelchairs and although we didn’t get to check it out in detail the path by the lake seemed like it would be the same if you fancied a stroll. But for us it was just a bit on the cold side and we were on a mission to get to the party. The drive around Lake Taupo was absolutely beautiful, especially on a clear sunny day with the sky and hills reflected on the lake and getting different panoramas as you drive along.

The night we spent in Palmerston North was really pretty cold and unappealing but nevertheless we were out there racing around in the town square and taking photos in the dark with the ducks, town clock and glowing glass wall. Fortunately I was somewhat protected from the cold by my cloak (costume birthday party) and the effect of my new favourite drink, feijoa vodka and apple juice.

Wellington was an awesome place, we stayed in accommodation that was really close to central city (Cuba Street). So it took only a few minutes to walk down to the cafes, shops and restaurants. People watching is great entertainment, sitting outside one of the numerous cafĂ©/bars you can spend ages observing the diversity and activity that’s such a part of Wellington. Many of the main sources of entertainment and attraction for travelers are fairly central. So if you’re not far from the CBD and your brave/silly enough it’s possible to wheel/walk your way between a number of the theatres, galleries and shops. But a warning for those people un-used to city traffic, it was pretty scary at times crossing at some of the intersections.

Another great attraction was Te Papa Museum, which was also only about fifteen minutes walk away via Courtney Place. It is such a vast complex that I could spend days taking in the exhibits and information, there is something for everyone’s area of interest. Displays cover everything from archaeology, New Zealand history, Maori culture, Marine life, War history, the choice is huge. Unfortunately on this particular visit we had limited time, like so many tourists, so we only really got to have a high speed visit. I especially enjoyed the Marine and zoology displays plus the geology displays that had earthquake simulators and other exciting things.

Driving around Wellington and its suburbs is an adventure in itself, with so many hills to go up and down, many of which give great views over the city or harbour. Navigating around the various streets was a challenge as there were/are many narrow one way streets, even some of the two-way streets were a bit of a thrill to negotiate in “the Beast”. We learned how to do a ten point turn in one particular dead end street, which was a great beginning to our exploration of the coastal areas. So we learned from that experience and got ourselves an updated map, as it turned out that streets do move and get changed.

On the trip home we stopped off at the Levin playground, which is awesome, it has a public kitchen, picnic area and several playground setup’s suitable for different ages and abilities. Part of one of the playground/fort's was accessible for my chair as it had ramps that led off in different directions, but that day it was a bit slippery as it was drizzling. The best part of the playground was the flying fox and the giant hamster wheels, which both provided great entertainment for us big kids.

We didn't have as much of a grand view of Mount Ruapehu on the way home as on the way there but the scenery through the Tongariro National Park and the volcanic plateau near Ruapehu was just as stunning. Taking the back way home gave us the opportunity to take in new sights and explore the more remote parts of the country that are travelled less often. It took a long time to get where we wanted, but it was worth it in the end for the experience.