Aaron’s Blog

Old Saint Paul’s Church in Wellington

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Old St Pauls outside_1280_for_WebThough I’ve never been a believer, I have always believed that churches have some fantastic architecture, and while I might not agree with some of what is taught there, the artistry of them is not to be denied.  With this in mind, I always like to visit churches, temples, etc. on our travels, so in Wellington we made a stop at Old Saint Paul’s.  From the outside, it looks like a pretty non-descript, average church, but this simple facade covers a building with a rich history, dating back to 1865.

The inside of the church has a wonderful, old-world feel, with warm wood everywhere, with just enough light coming in to create a warm atmosphere.

Old St Pauls Church - Wellington_1280_for_Web

This atmosphere is further enhanced by a number of stained glass windows that are truly beautifully done and add a hint of color to the room.

stain glass window at old st pauls_1280_for_Webstain glass window at old st pauls 2_1280_for_Web

Old St Pauls looking forward_1280_for_Web

On the right, in the picture above, you will see a US Marines flag as well as an American flag with 48 stars.  This is to honor the men of the Marine corps who frequented the church during World War II.  As the Japanese expanded their empire and won early victories in the war in the Pacific, it was decided that a contingent of the US Marines would be stationed in New Zealand, based out of Wellington.  This would provide security for New Zealand as well as an operational base for the Marines in the area.  Many of the servicemen would seek solace in the church, and there is a plaque commemorating them to this day.

If you like the feel of old churches, Old Saint Paul’s is a beautiful place to visit.

Food in Wellington: Breakfast, Sunday Roast, & Capitol

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Wellington is known as a foodie’s heaven, and it’s easy to know why.  It has an almost inexplicable amount of restaurants, cafes, and bars, all of which have their own cool style and look impressively tempting.  There are trendy bars with neon and sexy mood lighting, there are British pubs with warm wood interiors and delicious fried froods, and there are plenty of comfy cafes to while the day away.  The main drags of Courtenay Place and Cuba street are full of them, but there are plenty to be found scattered throughout the other areas of the city.

free bbqOur first introduction to food in Wellington was the free BBQ provided by our hotel (Cambridge Hotel).  It’s apparently something they do every Wednesday.  I’m used to free food in Japan, so I was expecting a quarter piece of sausage, but when we got this, it was all smiles.  They were taking in a donation for Movember, a charity in which the men opt not to shave their mustaches for a month to prove….something.  Anyways, it helps someone somehow, and for just a donation for charity, we were happy to get that meal

But the good grub at the Cambridge was only just beginning.  They serve a breakfast starting at just NZ$2 for eggs on toast, and they also do a tasty Sunday roast, of which we managed to get the last 2 pieces.

8 dollar breakfast in Wellington_1280_for_WebSunday Roast in Wellington_1280_for_Web


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A Ring around the City

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I’m a nerd.  I admit that.  And few things can get my inner nerd excited like a Lord of the Rings tour around Wellington, the location of the main studios and where they filmed a number of scenes for the film.  Ever since the films made their debut, these types of tours have been sprouting up around Wellington.  We went with one of the tour companies that was recommended to us, which was quite conveniently named, Movie Tours.  Our guide, Ted, who is the owner/operator/guide, really puts together a great tour, and is generally just a really nice guy.

Can you see the Nazgul coming_1280_for_WebOur first location was at Mount Victoria, where the first filming for the films happened in October 1999, and where they filmed some scenes for Weathertop and the woods around Hobbiton.  First, we looked out at the plains near Weathertop where the Nazgul approached the hobbits.  In the movie, it’s there for about 2.5 seconds.  Of course, it doesn’t quite look like that now, but with a little imagination, you’re right there (or close enough).


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Zealandia: Wildlife Sanctuary and Urban Oasis

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Zealandia entrance_1280_for_WebFor a change of pace, we decided to go off into the highly recommended Zealandia, which is a wildlife sanctuary located a 15 minute drive away from the city.  They even started a free shuttle service around July 2011, making it easy as pie to get to.

Zealandia has a unique predator-proof fence that they use to create a refuge for the animals free from the predators introduced by foreigners to New Zealand, which would normally hunt them.  This has made them the idea place for endangered species to stage a comeback and they have been very successful so far with helping to bring back species that were previously on the brink of extinction, including the kaka, the saddleback, and others. Read more

Food in Wellinton: Kumara Hashbrowns with Breakfast

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Kumara hashed browns and scrambled eggs_1280_for_Web

For a paltry NZ$6, we enjoyed the lovely breakfast of 2 eggs scrambled over toast as well as kumara hashed browns.  Kumara is a type of sweet potato that is indiginous to New Zealand.  Naoko wasn’t quite sold, but I thought the mix of the sweet of the potatoe and the light salt was really nice and mixed well with the eggs.  Either way, can’t complain for 6 bucks.