Saturday, 4 January 2014

Wellington Waterfront (4) and a milestone for John

Well, Christmas is done and dusted for another year. We had our daughter, son-in-law, and their children with us for a few days. It was great to re-acquaint ourselves with our grandchildren. It’s such a pity they live so far away.

Oliver and Ariana on Oma’s garden seat (photo by John)

On the last day of the year, we finally had a brilliant summer’s day, so it was time for a bike ride. John had been riding his other bike around our (hilly!) suburb to build up his mileage, as he was nudging the 2,000 km milestone for the year, and today was the day the big number would be reached. He only needed another 11 kms.

We rode our favourite Wellington Waterfront ride, starting as usual at the Roseneath end of Oriental Parade. There were a lot of people about, strolling or biking, kids riding scooters, a few skateboarders, tourists riding Crocodile bikes, and of course lots of people enjoying the beach.

We biked without stopping until we got to the cruise ship terminal, near the Westpac Stadium. Tied up at the wharf was the Celebrity Solstice, a simply gi-normous ship. Apparently it takes over 2,800 passengers and 1,250 crew! Fabulous for an “intimate” experience of a holiday with a few of your closest friends? (Warning: Sarcasm …!)

The cruise ship Celebrity Solstice (photo by John)

At the end of the covered way, the gate, which is usually locked, was now open for the passengers to be able to walk into town, if they chose to. Their alternative was to travel on one of the many shuttle buses that were plying back and forth between the ship and the city.

The gate was manned by a guard, so we couldn’t just wander in for a closer look at the cruise ship, but John asked him if he could just go up to the barrier to take a photograph (above).

The guard and the barrier beyond which John couldn't go

I was amused to see, among this vast array of balcony after balcony, a lonely pair of red shorts hanging up to dry!

Spot the red shorts!

Near the gate was an information board with a map of the city, a list of places of interest, and a listing of how long it takes to walk to Te Papa, Civic Square and the Cable Car. I guess that people would take a picture of it on their smartphones, to guide them through town. It didn’t have a QR Code though (that’s one of those squiggly squares that allows you to link to a website via your smartphone).

Passengers choosing to walk into town would have seen the wonderful shadows cast by the etched glass canopy of the walkway, while those riding on the buses would have had a good view of the stacks of logs waiting to be shipped.

Shadows under the canopied walkway (photo by John)

Logs waiting to be exported

We rode up the ramp onto the Stadium concourse. As we got to the top, we heard a “ting, ting, ting”, which turned out to be the warning bells for a goods train about to cross the road on its way from the railway yards behind the stadium to the wharf opposite.

A goods train crossing Aotea Quay

Cruise ship, logs, canopied walkway, and cars waiting at the railway crossing – seen from the stadium concourse

We rode a few laps around that wonderful vast expanse of smooth concrete that is the stadium concourse, to build up our mileage. I took note of my bike computer readings, and found that by sticking close to the perimeter, one lap was 1.3 km!

We considered going down the spiral ramp on the Thorndon Quay side, and taking a look at the pohutukawas in Parliament grounds. I want to take a photo of them in full bloom, which is a magnificent sight, but this was apparently not the right time, so we flagged that idea.

Next, back along the wharves. There were so many people walking along the front of the Shed 5 restaurant, we decided to ride round the back of it, not a terribly attractive area. A bit further along, outside Ferg’s Kayaks, a rack of colourful kayaks caught my eye. By the way, Ferg is Ian Ferguson, NZ’s most successful Olympian, who competed in five Olympic Games, and won four gold medals and one silver.

Ferg’s kayaks ready for hiring out

We saw quite a few people going for a paddle in some of Ferg’s kayaks. From the opposite wharf, the Helipro chopper seemed to be doing great business too, making lots of trips to take tourists for a bird’s eye view over Wellington. Wow, that must be pretty amazing on a lovely day like this. Wellington’s harbour must be a spectacular sight from above.

Two tourists’ modes of transport

As we were getting close to the Karaka Café, our favourite place for coffee or lunch on our waterfront rides, John detoured for a bit, riding around the Star Boating Club. Then, stop! “I’ve reached my 2,000 kms!” So of course, I took a photo to record the milestone.

John’s milestone of 2,000 kms since January 2013! A two and a zero, twenty centuries!

So, off to lunch. One of my dancing friends, whom my blog had apparently inspired to want to go cycling to lose some weight, replied to my comment that I hadn’t lost any weight by cycling: “Yes, but you undo all the good by always having coffee or lunch afterwards!”. She does have a point, and she’s probably quite right. But the coffees or lunches are all part of the enjoyment of getting out and about!

What's not to like about having lunch with a great view like this!

John carefully lined up the roof of the Wharewaka with the crane of the Hikitea (photo by John)

Along the front of Te Papa, I felt rather annoyed at the sight of a teenage boy climbing on the statue “Solace in the Wind”, while his Mum was taking a picture of him. When I rode past, I called out to him “That’s a piece of art, it’s not for climbing on!”. He jumped down pretty quickly. I felt annoyed with the mother too, what an example to set your son!

Back along Oriental Parade, the two beaches were full of sun seekers and children playing. At the main beach, the local Surf Life Saving Club volunteers were keeping an eye on people in the water.

Freyberg Beach

The beach patrol tower and the volunteers in their yellow T-shirts

It was a shortish ride, only 14 kms, but as it was New Year’s Eve, we were planning on going to the Scottish Country Dancing Hogmanay dance in the evening. Do check out the Hogmanay story and photos in my next blog post.

Happy New Year!