Wellington, NZ: Earthquakes and tourism

Our third day visiting Wellington, New Zealand was shaping up to be drizzly and relatively low key. My boyfriend and I had spent a laboriously wonderful day hiking at the renowned Zealandia Eco sanctuary the day before. With sore legs and an equally tired bank account, we were seeking to do something with our day that required minimal exposure in all respects. We were staying in the Museum Art Hotel on the Wellington harbour which, luckily enough was a skip across from the Sunday Harbourside markets. We quickly joined the line for the delicious (and cheap) crepes for breakfast, before delightfully strolling around the fresh food stalls. A few minutes later, the wind characteristically began to pick up. As it was nearing 11am, we decided to head off to our next stop, the Weta Cave. The Weta Cave is labelled as a must see for any Lord of the Rings fan, as we had done a LOTR tour the day we arrived, it was definitely on our list. It had been on my to visit list since I saw one of my friends snap a selfie with a Weta Cave troll from LOTR a few months before we left.

After the half hour bus ride, which only cost us a total of $2 as it was a Sunday (Pro-tip: use public transport in Wellington on Sundays! Unbelievably cheap). We jumped off the bus and walked down the hill to the Weta Cave. As we walked down the hill, we noticed most of the side of the shop covered in a blue tarp and sectioned off with gates. As we drew closer, a sign placed on the gate read “Sorry, we’re off on holidays-Trolls”. My mood plummeted, but I was certain that inside there would be something that could save the trip from being completely pointless. Inside we only found a packed room of overpriced memorabilia and a small museum in the corner. Maybe, we were both not big enough fans to appreciate it all, but it wasn’t at all what I had come to expect off the rave reviews online. After snapping a quick selfie with the life size Smeagle statue, we promptly walked back up to the bus station and headed back into the city. A total of 10 minutes at the Weta Cave and an hour spent travelling on the bus. Definitely not worth the trouble.

We headed back to the hotel for a quick pit stop before heading to the famous Wellington Cable car and Botanic Gardens later in the day. We were both pretty exhausted from the previous day, so we decided to have a little rest in our hotel room before heading out. I was laying on the couch watching the only day time television that wasn’t infomercials, Keeping up with the Kardashians. Suddenly, the room started to move, only subtly. It quickly built up to a shaking momentum, enough to wobbly the television but not enough to make it fall. Having experienced a lot of earthquakes before when visiting family in Japan, I knew that it wasn’t big enough to be concerned about. My boyfriend on the other hand, Australian born and bred, never had experienced an earthquake up to that point. During the earthquake, he was in the bathroom, which disappointed me as I’d always wanted to see his reaction.

“Uh, is this an earthquake?” he asked me completely confused through the bathroom door.

“Yes” I loudly answered, as we continued to shake.

“Should we leave?” he asked, obviously growing concerned.

“No” I knowingly chuckled back.

A few seconds later, the earthquake fades away and the building remains intact. I was secretly concerned that the previous big earthquake that had hit Wellington in early November had affected the buildings construction. I suggested we leave for the Cable car very soon after. He was more than happy to agree to get out of our fifth floor room. We spent the rest of the day safely outside at the Botanic Gardens and out shopping.

But we eventually had to go back to the room, to which I never would admit how afraid I was, until after we’d left New Zealand. My fears weren’t made much better from the constant reassurance that my boyfriend needed post-earthquake. Trying to reassure him that the ground wasn’t moving as he was suffering from vertigo from the earthquake as I was, was a feat in itself. I just hoped that I’d be able to tell the difference if there actually was another earthquake.

I knew the probability of having a bad earthquake while we were there was very unlikely. I held onto that thought for all stability during the duration of our trip. I’ve never had a bad experience with earthquakes and probably never will, however, they will always scare the hell out of me.

We both fell in love with the country, with it’s people and it’s scenery. We’ve decided that one day we would love to move there, if life permits us. But until then, we will be visiting on multiple occasions. Which accompanies the issue of dealing the our fear of earthquakes and the possibility of dealing with many more. In the end, though it was cold, windy and scary, I would take up the opportunity to live in New Zealand in a heart beat. Despite everything, it is the most beautiful place I have ever travelled to, and though I spent only nine days there, it felt more like home than Australia has for my entire life.

 

-Naomi V (16/12/2016)

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