Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jan 30th – Wellington’s Amazing Te Papa Museum

Every port so far on this cruise has been blessed with amazing weather – a succession of blue skies and endless sun. Until we got to Wellington.....

Instead we were greeted by cloudy skies, misty hills and a bit of light rain – in fact, the weather reminded me of an English summer's day. But, if there's one Southern Hemisphere city that you don't mind avoiding the inclement weather and spending the afternoon in a museum – then that's got to be Wellington. Because, in the wonderful Te Papa museum, Wellington is home to one of the best museums in the world.

Te Papa has always been excellent – with its Maori exhibits and its impressive natural history displays – but, in the last couple of years they've added a truly amazing exhibition on the Gallipoli campaign. Gallipoli was a seminal moment in the national consciousness of New Zealand, but most of all it was a horrific and ultimately pointless battle which saw massive suffering and loss of life on both sides - Allied and Turkish.

At Te Papa, they've used the fantastic special effects work of Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop (obviously of Lord of the Rings Fame), to produce some amazing gigantic figures that take you aback with their lifelike accuracy. As you look at the giant models of the soldiers (who are 2.4 times lifesize), they are so painstakingly real, that it feels like they could leap into life at any point. They quite literally bring home the enormity of the suffering of the Kiwi soldiers fighting in that brutal conflict. There's an almost cinematic effect to the whole thing, and you can virtually feel the suffering of these poor soldiers.

I've never been to an exhibition that's been so evocative, so moving, and so impactful as this. Absolutely superb.

The rest of Wellington is a pleasing mixture of the historic and the modern; a combination of modern international capital, and accessible and friendly city life. To me, this place has better cultural attractions, better shopping, and a more cohesive feel than Auckland, which is four times the size.

Even with grey skies and strong winds, Wellington seems like it would be a great place to live.