After more than a year spent in the South Island, I finally see the other face of New Zealand - the more populated and tamed North Island. Wellington is a nice, vibrant city which I really like. It's lively, there's culture and pub life, and I can easily imagine myself living and working here. The only bugger is the wind, constantly blowing through the streets, especially around the wharf. From the architectural standpoint it isn't the prettiest city, but it's nice enough. It kind of reminds of a smaller version of Sydney, with its plethora of multi-storey office buildings that don't quite make it to skycrapers (they do in Sydney), and the wharf being lined with old warehouses converted into pleasant-looking pubs. There is no significant landmark visible from a panoramic view - no old castles, cathedrals or buildings that would stick out. Except for a big church on top of a hill that looks more like a convent or a hospital. Wellington's beauty stands in the small buildings you only spot from close up.
The city's also culturally significant - there are events going on all the time, there's the government headquarters (free tours daily) and the Te Paha, NZ's national museum covering nature, history, Maoris and everything Kiwi. Right now the big thing is the upcoming Hobbit world premiere. It's only five days away and it's all over the city. They invented the slogan "Middle of Middle Earth" which you can see on every wall, every lamp post, on post stamps, there's going to be a Hobbit-themed market, all souvenir shops are filled up with Hobbit merchandise and posters of Gloom, Bilbo, Gandalf, etc. hang everywhere. Unfortunately, I won't be here for the premiere, even though it's due in a couple of days. It's one of those badly timed situations like "I'm here now, but the fun won't start for another couple of days, and I can't wait here doing nothing, but if I go away, I'll miss it by inches". So I'm going to miss all the fun with Peter Jackson and the movie stars walking the red carpet to the cinema, but I just can't linger around for five days. If I could at least see the movie that day, but it's going to be expensive and probably already sold out anyway. It's stupid, it sucks, but it's life. At least I'm still gonna see the movie in New Zealand, just a few days after the actual premiere, just in another city in an ordinary cinema.