Sunday, 3 November 2013

Wellington Waterfront (3)

I learnt a new expression today: “renaissance riders”. It’s probably been used by the cycling fraternity for ages, but it was new to me. In a book we bought yesterday, renaissance riders are defined as cyclists “shedding years as they jump on a bike for the first time in decades”. It describes me to a T.

The book is The New Zealand Cycle Trails Nga Haerenga – A Guide to New Zealand’s 23 great Rides”, which is hot off the press. Most of the rides in the book are way beyond my capabilities (I only qualify for levels 1 and 2), but it gives us something to aspire to.

Now to our latest ride – a mini-ride, really. Labour weekend was quite nice in Wellington, and we should have gone for a ride on the Monday, but we didn’t. So we went on Tuesday. That’s one of the advantages of being retired – you can choose to go and do things on weekdays.

Tuesday 29 October was fine and slightly breezy. I had been to a gym class in the morning, and I didn’t want to ride too far afield or do anything too energetic. So we rode along the Wellington Waterfront – again.

As we’ve done this ride before, we didn’t stop for photos very often. We rode pretty much without stopping from the far end of Oriental Parade to the Westpac Stadium. We rode up the ramp onto the Stadium Concourse, for a few laps of this wonderful vast expanse of smooth concrete.

While we were up there, I noticed the two huge cranes on the harbour front, which had not been there last time we rode there. They are moveable container cranes, and I thought they looked very impressive against the blue sky.

I thought these massive cranes were quite impressive

On the way back, we detoured a little onto the wharf where the three Wellington tugs are berthed. At the end of this wharf there is also the rusting hulk of a fishing boat. An interesting contrast with the beautifully maintained tugs.

The tug Ngahue

There's a certain beauty in the textures of decay

Of course we stopped at the Karaka Café for coffee and a muffin. With the warmer weather, the café has installed some large beanbags on the grass in front of the terrace. No! we were not game to sit on them! Besides, they were already occupied by some young people lolling about on them, absorbed in their smartphones while enjoying the sunshine.

Karaka Café, with bean bags in the foreground (photo by John)

While it was nice and sunny, and not very cold, it didn’t strike me as suitable swimming weather yet, but as we came around to the bridge over the wharf cut-outs on the Taranaki Wharf, we saw a young man doing somersaults off the Taranaki Wharf Jump Platform into the water below. Actually, it gave me the heebie-jeebies, because the cut-out in the wharf is not that large, and a less skillful jumper or diver could easily come to grief.

The Taranaki Wharf Jump Tower (photo by John)

I hurried to get my camera ready to catch him, but I was too late. So when he climbed out of the water, I asked him if he would do it again, so I could take his picture. At first he didn’t want to do the high jump again, but instead did a running somersault off the wharf edge. Then when he saw I was prepared to wait for him to catch his breath, he climbed to the top of the tower, and did a beautiful somersault off it. I thanked him, and got a typical NZ response “No worries”.

A running somersault off the wharf edge

I reflected afterwards that this was another one of those situations which showed how friendly and relaxed NZers are. Nobody thought it strange that I should come pedalling along and ask him to repeat his jump, even though I didn’t know him. I think that if you tried that in some European countries, people would consider you very forward, and decidedly odd.

After this little interlude, we continued on without stopping back to the car. We’d done about 12 kms.

I had a disappointment this afternoon, when John updated his spreadsheet of our cycled distances. I thought my total was 724 kms, but according to his scientific (odometer) count, my total, up until now, is actually 706 kms. I have corrected the figure in my side bar (in red, on the right).

I have a further few Wellington photos to share, which we took yesterday afternoon, during a walk through town. In Civic Square a large sphere is suspended above the middle of the plaza. It is a sculpture by Neil Dawson, entitled “Ferns”, which was presented to the city in 1998.

The artist stated "When I started work on Ferns, I saw Ian Athfield's nikau palms as major markers of the Square. What I've aimed for is a sort of delicate intricacy that can float over the top of the palms so the two elements can work with each other.”

Neil Dawson’s sculpture “Ferns”

“Ferns” seems to float above Civic Square and the nikau palms

Later we saw the sculpture reflected in the windows of the curved City Council building.

The curve in the City Council building results in multiple reflections of "Ferns" in the windows
 (photo by John)


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