Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Wellington Waterfront - again

Yesterday (Monday 9 September) was another lovely day, but the forecast was warning us of heavy rain and galeforce winds in the next few days, so we thought we’d better get another ride in, before the weather packed up.

As northwesterlies were expected during the day, we decided on a shortish ride, along the Wellington waterfront, where we hoped the wind would not be too bad. We started out close to lunchtime, so there were quite a lot of people about – walking, jogging, cycling or just sitting, enjoying the sunshine during their lunch hour.

Again we parked at the far end of Oriental Parade, and took photos of features and places we missed on our last “Ode to the Wellington Waterfront” ride (4 August).

The tide was out at Oriental Bay Beach (photo by John)

With the tide being out, the beach looked wide and empty. Near the Freyberg Pool, we rode down the ramp down to the small wharf jutting into the water. Next to it, and protecting a smaller beach, is an arrangement of large square concrete slabs. They give a sculptural effect, but also provide places for people to sit or sunbathe in relative privacy and with some shelter from the breeze.

Ramp down to Freyberg Beach (photo by John)
The spaces between the slabs provide sheltered places for sunbathing

Today, though, the wind was fairly brisk. John tried to prop up his camera on one of the slabs, so he could set it on automatic to take a picture of us both, but it was too windy for that, so he took one of just me.

It was too windy to prop up the camera for a photo of us both (photo by John)

On the other side of this wharf, is The Boat Café. This former tug boat is permanently moored here, and has been used as a restaurant for many years. A couple of years ago, the Parade Café, which was a popular café across the road on Oriental Parade, had to make way for yet another tall luxury apartment building. As the Tug Boat, as it was then called, was for sale, Parade Café bought it and moved in, and it is now called The Boat Café.

The Boat Café – the bar was extended to stick out over the water

Outside Bernie’s on the Bay pavement café, we said hello to Bernie, the Bernese mountain dog. He must have been thirsty, and he knew where to find water – he kept licking the dripping tap below the drinking fountain.

Bernie knows just where to have a drink! (photo by John)

John took another picture of Solace in the Wind, this time with the marina in the background. A bit later, I was amused to see a bunch of tourists leaning over to peer round the front of him, possibly trying to see whether he had “the real goods”.

Solace in the Wind (photo by John)

Next to Te Papa Museum of NZ is the striking black, white and red building of the Circa Theatre. This intimate theatre contains two performance spaces, and a café, as well as a restaurant facing the harbour. This building is intriguing because its entrance looks quite different from the rest of it. The front façade, which is on the Te Papa side, was the last remaining portion of the late 19th century Westport Chambers, which used to be across the road from its present location. The Westport Coal Company was once a big exporter in the British Empire.

Circa Theatre, with Taranaki Street gates

In several places along the wharves, there are large black spheres, which provide some lighting at night – probably just as warnings so people don’t blunder off the edge. They look rather attractive and dramatic. The ones in the photo below are close to the bridge across the lagoon entrance.

These black spheres provide feature lighting at night

From here we made our way through the throng of lunchtime walkers and joggers, and kept going until the end of the footpath, near the stadium. The former warehouse near where the cruise ships berth has an impressive black and white mural of kowhai flowers on its city-facing wall. I like the words along the top too: “Coolest Little Cruise Capital”.

The city-facing wall of the cruise ship terminal on Aotea Quay

In recent years Wellington has become a popular cruise destination. During the 2012/2013 cruise ship season, Wellington hosted 90 ships and over 172,000 passengers. Many of these passengers will have walked into town, under the attractive glass canopy opposite the stadium.

Covered walk-way for cruise ship passengers (photo by John)

We decided not to ride up onto the stadium concourse this time, as it was too windy – the wind really sweeps across the vast empty expanse in a vicious way. Instead we made our way back along the front of the new office buildings at Harbour Quays. I watched as cars, bound for the South Island, were driving onto the Bluebridge ferry.

The Bluebridge ferry, the Straitsman, bound for Picton

Everywhere along the waterfront, people were out enjoying the sunshine – making the most of a nice, though somewhat breezy, day before the weather packs up again in the coming week.

Enjoying the sunshine near the Meridian Building …

… and outside Ferg’s Kayaks. Love those bollards! (photo by John)

We had lunch at the Karaka Café, overlooking the lagoon. While waiting for our food, John was quite taken by the way the light on the water kept changing.

Sparkling sunlight on the lagoon. Tanya Ashken’s fountain Albatross is in the background, on the right (photo by John)

Back on Oriental Parade, and a photo of Tail of the Whale, a sculpture by Colin Webster-Watson, which was donated to the City of Wellington by the artist in 2005. Appropriately, opposite this artwork, a mural on the low wall between the footpath and the road depicts sea creatures of all kinds, including a chubby orca. Interestingly, pods of orcas are relatively common visitors to Wellington Harbour. They are often called killer whales, but in fact orcas belong to the dolphin family and are not true whales.

Tail of the Whale (2005) by Colin Webster-Watson (photo by John)
Orca, part of a mural on Oriental Parade (photo by John)

Finally, when we’d put the bikes away in the car, we made our way to Kaffee Eis, for one of their delicious icecream cones, which we enjoyed while sitting on a bench, looking out onto the water and the beach.

Icecream cones from Kaffee Eis (photo by John)
The Fishermans Table, a restaurant under what used to be a band rotunda (photo by John)

Postscript - As I finish writing this up, the predicted galeforce winds (more than 100km/hr) have arrived and are howling around the house. It's raining now too. I am glad we managed to get in two very enjoyable rides on Sunday and Monday before they hit.

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