I don’t claim any of this but the photo was so impressive I felt I should share it!! It shows  a kaka fledgling soaring over Zealandia, the Karori (Wellington, NZ) wildlife sanctuary.

kakaThis was taken by Janice McKenna and you can see more of her work here. The following data is from Zealandia‘s website.

Common name: North Island kaka
Maori name: kākā
Scientific name: Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis
Large, olive-brown forest parrot. Has orange plumage under wings and a strong curved beak. A ‘cousin’ to the alpine parrot, kea.
Has a loud ‘scraak’ call and also some beautiful songs and whistles. The word kākā can mean ‘screech’ in Māori.


The Hobbit

The Hobbit launches today in Wellington, New Zealand and it certainly appears that the ‘Biggest Little Capital In The World’ has risen to the challenge. The day has dawned beautifully fine, the locals are getting dressed up and are on the streets ten hours before the stars take the 600m walk along the red carpet, and the local media are salivating over the 5 minutes of interview time they have been offered with various Hobbit people leading up to the main event at 4pm this afternoon.

There is little doubt Peter Jackson is a great Director/Producer and Wellington (or is that ‘Wellywood‘?) and the rest of New Zealand are justifiably proud of the work he has done and the focus he has brought to our nation.

I live in a part of New Zealand that is close to many of the sites where different parts of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogies have been filmed in and it is quite neat when driving to think that ‘just over that hill’ hobbits roamed, dwarves grumbled, orcs charged or armies of thousands charged. It’s not difficult to picture these events given the wondrous country that we casually drive through and pretty much take for granted.

There is a definite sense of pride among many (most?) New Zealanders that we are world leaders in movie making and utilising new and innovative technology and we look forward to more and more films being made here, and the associated tourist industry continuing to grow to cater for the zillions of visitors who visit our shores to experience the beauties of Middle Earth.

So is Wellington just Wellywood today or is it perhaps Hobbiton for a day?

Dining In Wellington

If you’re in Wellington (New Zealand) and wish to go out for some fine dining, casual meal and drinks or just drinks these are the latest award winning establishments around that neat wee town.

The winners:

  • The Fly Buys for Business Outstanding Sales Representative: Rick Lindsay, Eurovintage
  • The Chilli Outstanding Supplier: Regional Wines & Spirits
  • The Crombie Lockwood Outstanding Ambiance & Style: Hawthorn Lounge
  • The Meadow Mushrooms Outstanding Casual Dining Experience: Havana Bar
  • The Seresin Estate Outstanding Wine List:Matterhorn
  • The Weltec Outstanding Beverage List: Matterhorn
  • The Hancocks Wine, Spirits & Beer Merchants Outstanding Local Establishment: Fidel’s
  • The Curtis McLean Outstanding Barista: Bink Bowler, Memphis Belle Coffee House
  • The San Pellegrino Outstanding Café: Fidel’s
  • The Chivas Regal Outstanding Bartender: Rennie Boon, Crumpet
  • The Beam Outstanding Bar: Matterhorn
  • The Negociants Outstanding Front of House Team: Capitol
  • The Menumate Outstanding front of House Manager/Maitre D’: Katie Woodhead, Scopa
  • The Moet Hennessy Outstanding Chef: Shaun Clouston, Logan Brown
  • The Bidvest Outstanding Emerging Chef: Jamie Armour, Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium
  • The Restaurant Association of New Zealand Outstanding Restaurant: Capitol
  • The Le Cordon Bleu Outstanding Contribution to Wellington Hospitality: Lorenzo Bresolin



What a very good article this is. The author’s roll of ‘good things’ about Wellingtonkindle very happy memories of the town that I called home for around 20 years. I moved to attend Teachers Training College (in Kelburn in those days) in 1965 at which time I lived a couple of minutes from the iconic cable car that would deliver me to the heart of the retail centre, a few of houses from the beautiful Botanical Gardens, and just a couple of hundred metres from TTC. Such convenience meant the city was where I did ALL of my socialising, where I was entertained, and where I would often go just to spend my leisure time. I became unashamedly a Wellingtonian and despite the fact that these years are new separated by decades I still back the Hurricanes, Wellington cricket, The Phoenix, regularly read http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post and look forward to returning which I often do as two of my children and my grandchildren live there.It is still a GREAT town which (I find) is easy to get around (but I am now a visitor and have more time to do things and less urgency to be places, I suppose) and has HEAPS to do, but I have to agree with what Grant Stevenson says. While there have been fantastic developments over the years there has also been the sense of self-congratulation (“We’ve done that good! now we can put our feet up for a while.”) and something of an ‘ad-hocness about development. This is basically what Stevenson is talking about and it really does have to be turned around if Wellington is retain the label of “The Best Little Capital In The World”.I sincerely hope the Powers The Be pay attention.
PS. These bloody idiots could do quite a lot to improve the image of the city as well!


Tucked away in a somewhat hidden valley in Wellington is a fascinating mini-putt course, but it’s rather more for the weird constructions-cum-statuary that it is worth a visit. Connecting the Suburb of Brooklyn to the south coast is ‘Happy Valley’. There are a few houses, a few shops and a few factories, and Carlucci Land Mini Golf. I remember many years ago whenever you drove up or down the valley there was always something happening in the jumble of ‘stuff’ that was piled around a section about halfway that at best could be described as a junk-yard. It was fascinating stuff being created from stone, steel, recovered industrial wreckage of one kind or another. Animals of all sorts, abstract statues, and indescribable ‘things’ that were doubtless meant to be something.

Last time I visited the City however, when we went down Happy Valley it wasn’t to visit the junk-yard but to take my grandson to what part of the property had become- Carlucci Land Mini Putt golf ‘course’.Nathan had told me proudly of his last golfing exploit when he “…beat Daddy- I got a hole in one!” His father assures me it was a legitimate ‘ace’ even though the rest of the game was completed in a few more than 17!! I think Chris, Nathan’s dad kept score, at least for a while (he is a very competitive young man) and we all managed to get holes in one, but as I said, the ‘art and craft’of the place was the greater source of fascination for me. The owners of the property have, for very many years been collecting all sorts of ‘junk’ from an almost endless number of sources-from building demolitions to detritus of the sea, from domestic cast-offs to unwanted ‘signs of the times’, from unwanted tools to outdated machinery. It would seem that nothing is worth nothing to these guys although the growing number of degradable iconsof a by-gone age such as books and pictures and the like become exhibits in their own right rather than being combined with bits of this and pieces of that to create a new piece of ‘art’. There is a very real sense that an artist is at work here rather than a talentless artisan simply usingthe tools of his trade in some aimless exercise in construction. Certainly there are many many ‘fairytale’ creatures such asinsects and dragons,as there are obvious original statuesand ornaments. There is a lot of the zany and clever glimpses of irony, sarcasm and social commentary. All around the man-made objects and interspersed among them are signs from days gone by that are used to create fun statements or ‘messages’.

So it’s a fun place. Of course the game of mini-putt has its own elements of fun, too. It’s not your up-market, sophisticated, hi-tech designed establishment but a course constructed of recycled hockey park artificial-turf,bricks rescued from a demolition, pvc off-cuts and little else. But it works, and it works on many levels, holes trundling past statues, some around ‘monuments’, others by free-form abstracts. Nice day out, especially with a busy wee man.


Wellington from Oriental Bay

On a visit to see my daughter, son in law and the 2 grandsons I was ‘out and about’ for the morning and during this wander I was reminded what a great town Wellington is. I lived there for a number of years when I trained to be a teacher and then taught for around 20 years but I guess I took it for granted. This may well be due to the habit of youth to take things for granted but be that as it may I have always had very fond memories of my years there. It is a small city and thereby lies much of its charm.

View from Mt Victoria- another shitty Wellington day!

From many of the delightful hillside (city) suburbs you are within walking distance of the CBD if you are so inclined. Get into the city and everything is there (also within walking distance)! Of course it will depend a wee bit on what you want to do as to where you need to be- eat?  Cuba, Manners, Courtenay Place, waterfront; shop? Willis, Lambton Quay; arts? ALL OVER! entertainment? Manners, Courtenay; have fun? ALL OVER…but the clubs and bars down Courtenay Place give you the chance to lose a mate, find somewhere quieter, check out a different band, dodge dick-heads (not normally too many of those, THANK GOODNESS!), or just try different atmospheres. Of course there are other things to do, but there will be somewhere in this tidy wee town to do them/it. Attend an event? The Westpac Stadium is a lesson to all other NZ cities- put it CLOSE to the after-match entertainment options and make the transport options to and from efficient. (Of course the Event Centre is also smack dab in the middle of all of the above.) Do a bit of interval fitness? The botanical gardens or the waterfront are great places to do the jog if that’s your bag. Above all if you just want to mooch Wellington is a nice place to do it- Wellington Harbour’s water is probably cleaner than the Marlborough Sounds nowadays and the views are superb; the profusion of art around the town is worthy of exploration; there are more coffee shops than you can shake a stick at; the ‘Town Belt’ hides a bunch of secrets; browsing a chunk of history in the Bolton Street cemetery (???), and you could do worse than hopping on a ferry and tootling over the the eastern suburbs. (Oh, and if you are so inclined there are some pretty interesting Houses of [someone’s] God to spend a reflective moment or five in).

Wind? what wind! Beautiful!

Yep- Wellington is a great place to hang out in.