Thursday 7 January 2016

To the Botanic Garden

Yesterday we took a ride from the city centre up to Wellington Botanic Garden on the 'cable car' (actually a funicular railway, fact fans). This is surely one of the world's great funicular rides, delivering you in a matter of minutes from the noise and bustle of the CBD as they call it (Central Business District) to the peaceful airy heights above town, and to the spectacular botanic garden which spreads itself greenly over a steeply sloping hillside site. Winding paths thread their way through a unique mixture of dense (evergreen) native woodland with specimen trees and plants from around the world, floral displays and the usual features - visitors' centre, cafe, an excellent playground. And all this is free, gratis and for nothing, in marked contrast to our own ludicrously expensive Kew Gardens.
 There is also a fine rose garden and, near it, a duck pond - where, to my delight, a splendid Monarch butterfly was gliding in elegant circles over the water. Until I came here, I didn't know Monarchs were to be found in New Zealand, but so they are - and across much of the South Pacific. They are in fact one of New Zealand's 'iconic' butterflies (they like things 'iconic' here), along with the Red Admiral (of which enough said).
 Yesterday was sunny and bright (though of course windy), but today is a horror - ferocious winds and rain blowing in from the bay, lowering skies, a day to batten down the hatches and stay indoors. Considering the dramatic contrasts in weather from day to day, it's a wonder the New Zealanders' temperament is so calm and equable, but so it undoubtedly is.

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