Wellington is the cultural hub of New Zealand. There is always something fun to do here, and it can be an extremely cheap day out as well. This weekend was no exception and with New Zealand hosting the rugby world cup and the All Blacks playing in Wellington Stadium it was even busier then usual.
Wellington is a very small city (you can walk across it in about an hour) this makes it incredible if you are limited to a short time and there are lots of things you want to see. Today our list of things to see and do was; tour the New Zealand Navel ships that were docked in the harbour, watch a sheep race, see the Wellington international Ukelele Orchastra and finally watch the match.
The tour of the Naval ship is not something that you can normally do however today 12 of the 13 ships in the New Zealand Navy were docked in Wellington and open to the public. We went on the largest of these ships which was the HMNZS Canterbury. She is a military supply ship and has been used extensively in humanitarian work as an offshore hospital. The ship is also capable of being used very effectivly in search and rescue operations due to the fact that it can carry two helicopters. The tour was self guided and after queueing for around an one and a half hours we spent an hour exploring the ship and, having worked on ships I was able to explain a lot to Jade.
Next up came an event that personified kiwi mentality. It was the little know sport of sheep racing. Followed by a demonstration of sheep dog techniques. New Zealand is know for their hundreds of thousands of sheep. It is a cultural icon of New Zealand and there was even a film made here about killer sheep (its called Black Sheep for you filmophiles out there). So it was only natural that sheep racing evolved here. A sheep race consists of around 8 sheep and a mascot. They are penned in at one end of a fifty meter long track. The track is straight and there are some pipes set up to act as jumps. If you want to, and a lot of people did, you could bet on what sheep you thought would win. I did not see any technique go into the betting as all the sheep pretty much looked the same, I don’t think its as serious as betting on the horses or the greyhounds. Once everyones bets have been made the pen is opened and the sheep run (surprisingly fast) down the track. It was over in around seven seconds which is far faster then I would have expected. It is also worth noting that the Baa Blacks are a touring sheep racing outfit and often race around the country!
Carrying on in this exploration of Kiwiana we saw the world famous Wellington Ukelele Orchestra. These guys were awesome and played for free in the RWC Fanzone. They are one of the more colourful bands i have ever seen and the music they played, much like the day, was light and fun. While they were playing there was a tape artist decorating the wall of the Te Papa mueseam. He was using strips of electrical tape to create a massive fantastical image of a light house.
The day finished sat in a bar on Courtney place watching the All Blacks thrash Tonga. It was a good day to be in New Zealand.