Saturday, 15 February 2014

Wellington Waterfront (5)

Yesterday, an early appointment fell through, so we headed into town for a ride along the Wellington Waterfront. We’ve done this ride a few times now, and I thought that this time there wouldn’t be much that was new, worth taking photos of. But luckily I was wrong. There is always something interesting going on.

We parked, as usual, at the far end of Oriental Parade, and rode towards the city. Along the front of Frank Kitts Park, a lady was playing “Pōkarekare Ana” on the community piano. I don’t know what the idea of all the teddy bears was, but I noticed that since last time we saw this piano being played, a donation box has been added, to help fund getting the piano tuned.

The lady was playing "Pōkarekare Ana" (photo by John)

Along the front of Shed 6, there is a set of information panels illustrating the development of the Wellington Waterfront. I think there are a dozen panels, and one day I must take time to read them all. I took photos of the first two, here is one of them.

The Wellington waterfront has undergone a lot of improvements since 1990

Shed 6 has had many uses over the years, but last year it had a big refurbishment, and it now a versatile function venue. While I was dawdling in front of the panels, John carried on to the Queen’s Wharf “Outer T”, from where he took a photo looking back.

Shed 6, with the information panels along the wall (photo by John)

At the other end of the ”Outer T” was the mooring of “Guru”, a catamaran owned by the NZ Diving and Salvage Ltd. Earlier this month it was in the news because this ship, having been built in land-locked Palmerston North, was trucked to Foxton, where it was launched and floated down the Manawatu River. It must be in Wellington just temporarily, as it is due to go to Darwin, from where it will be operating in the future.

The catamaran “Guru” was temporarily moored off Queen’s Wharf (photo by John)

From here we pedalled without stopping till we got to the Stadium Concourse. I like the design of the main entrance to the Stadium. It represents Mt Taranaki in the background, and the white feathers “Te Raukura” are a “symbol of peace and a reminder of the importance of maintaining a spirit of friendship and unity in the face of competition”.

The main entrance to the Stadium

Of course, this was the venue of the Wellington Sevens which were held last weekend. At the entrance to the Stadium, there was a ticket booth which still had the sign on it saying “R18 Wristband Booth”. Presumably young people had to present ID to prove they were over 18, so they would be able to buy alcohol at the venue. And further along over the gates, there were notices announcing “Have you got your wristband? No wristband, No alcohol”.

Is this discouraging or encouraging the consumption of alcohol?

I commented in my last blog on how drunken behaviour by fans had given the Sevens a bad name. Efforts appear to have been made to restrict the consumption of alcohol – by minors, at least – but it obviously was not terribly effective. Of course, sales of alcohol inside the venue don’t help …

We did a loop of the concourse, and I noticed in quite a few places, little bits of colourful feathers stuck to the tarmac – from some of the fancy costumes that would have been parading along here, I suppose.

Back along the wharves to the Karaka Café, for coffee and a scone. A family with a young child at another table made the fatal mistake of feeding tidbits to some pigeons. Initially there were just two pigeons, and one seagull. We were amused to see one of the pigeons getting very territorial and chasing the seagull off. Of course the gull kept coming back, and before long a whole flock of squabbling seagulls was crowding around the table.

Hopeful seagulls crowding around a café table

The Boatshed and the Star Boating Club by the Frank Kitts Lagoon (photo by John)

There is a boardwalk, below the level of the wharf, between Te Papa and the marina, from where you have a different perspective of things. It is intriguing to realise that what looks like solid roadway from above, is actually a wharf, sitting above the water.

The wharf along the front of Te Papa (photo by John)

Looking the other way, beyond the marina, is the nearly completed Clyde Quay Wharf Apartments development. Its completion is scheduled for April-July 2014. While trying to find out more about this development, I found this mind-boggling video, showing the construction of the complex’s underground – or rather underwater – carpark.

Apparently most of the 76 luxury apartments were sold off the plans long before the project was actually underway. The few apartments that are still available for sale range between 1.4 and 3 million dollars!

The Clyde Quay Wharf development is nearing completion (photo by John)

Waitangi Park, behind the Chaffers Dock (the old Herd Street Post Office Building), and the carpark by Te Papa were covered in big marquees, and lots of preparatory activites were going on. I asked a parking warden what was happening, and he told me that they were getting ready for the Homegrown Music Festival, which starts at 1pm on Saturday, and continues till 11pm. There will be eight stages and dozens of acts.

Fences around one of the marquees in Waitangi Park

We had noticed as we were driving along Jervois quay, on our way to Oriental Parade, that there were marquees on the lawns at Frank Kitts Park too, and we wondered then what it was about. It seems that the whole of the waterfront will be occupied by this event.

It looks like a huge logistical exercise – tents, stages, seating, portaloos, rubbish bins, fences, lighting and sound equipment, flooring in some of the marquees, food and drink, signage – all need to be delivered and set up. And taken down again, of course, after the event.  

I noticed too, that the wetland gardens around the Waitangi Stream had been fenced off – presumably to protect them from the actions of over-boozed music fans …

As we rode around Waitangi Park, John took some pictures of the Museum Hotel. This hotel has an interesting story. It used to be located where Te Papa now stands. In 1993, the whole concrete building was moved – lock, stock and barrel – along for 180 metres and across the road. For some years it was called “Museum Hotel de Wheels”.

It is now a luxury boutique hotel, which prides itself on its impressive art collection. I have never been inside it, but having looked at its website, I wonder if “ordinary mortals” – i.e. not resident guests – would be able to go and look at the art on display. I suppose one could always go in and have dinner in its (very expensive) restaurant “Hippopotamus”.

The Museum Hotel was moved to its present location from where Te Papa now stands
(photo by John)

We made our way back to the car on Oriental Parade. Opposite where we had parked, I saw a notice on one of the last few remaining character houses, which said: “Ten Large Luxury Apartments over Three Sites – Selling now!”.

I was horrified, because one of the three sites mentioned is the most beautiful house on Oriental Parade. I can’t believe they are going to pull down this beautifully maintained, pristine white house with its little turret – absolutely one of my favourite buildings in Wellington. And they’re going to put up another big apartment monstrosity! Aargh!

They are going to pull down this beautiful white house with its turret,
and replace it with a ten-apartment monstrosity!

On Sunday 16 February, we hope to take part in the “Miramar Ciclovia”. From 1-5pm, part of the road around the Miramar Peninsula – from Shelley Bay to Scorching Bay – will be closed to cars, so that walkers and cyclists can enjoy the route without the dangers of traffic. I’m looking forward to it, and so far, the weather forecast for that day looks promising. You will read all about it here, of course, but better still, come along and join in!


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