Who Said You Can’t Go To Wellington For A Beach Holiday?
A southerly buster has descended on Wellington for my last day here. Not the bone chilling, joint aching version that so often holds this weather driven city to ransom. It is, however enough of a breeze to send most Wellingtonians in to rapturous praise for the return of the southerly. The fact that for much of the past two weeks a relatively balmy North Westerly wind has fuelled record breaking January temperatures of between 23 to 28 degrees, has been an almost unbearable heat waive for native residents.
The complaints have ranged from the lack of sleep caused by the heatwave conditions to the fact that the water coming out of the cold tap is too tepid to drink. I did feel it was my duty to point out on more than one occasion that experiencing an Australian summer is like living in an oven for most of the time, but this fact seemed to be beyond most peoples comprehension. To be fair, in reality if you live in a city that averages approximately 173 days with wind speed of at least 60 km’s an hour, you can be excused for thinking that a run of days with winds less than 20kms an hour is a heatwave.
When talking about Wellington the weather is never far removed from the conversation but it really is so much more. Often called the San Francisco of the Southern Hemisphere the comparison is very close. The old wooden houses sitting precariously on the side of the ridiculously steep hills around greater Wellington is just one similarity and another being the ever present threat of earthquake. Really it’s a wonder there isn’t many more stress related crimes considering the residents live with knowledge that the weather is trying to blow them off the face of the earth for more that fifty percent of the time and if that doesn’t happen the earth could swallow them up!
The other similarity to San Fran is the amazing harbour and coastline. Due it’s weird geography Wellington is surrounded on many sides by a myriad of rocky bays filled with some of the cleanest water in the world. It’s also very cold, compared to the Sunshine Coast at any rate who’s water averages 25 degrees C in summer, while Wellington’s is only16 – 18 degrees Celsius.
As a city Wellington has everything that you usually find and more, great food in particular (it is the most multicultural city on the planet) but for me the biggest draw card will always be the natural environment, especially the water. So undeveloped are most of the beaches and bays it is easy to forget that on the other side of the hill are about 500,000 people simply going about their life. I crave the clarity and temperature of Wellington water when I’m away, it’s totally addictive. The other day, while diving with a friend I realised I do fear one thing. As I floated in a bed of seaweed, cocooned by its soft silky tendrils and gently rocked by the ebb and flow of the glacial ocean, I thought came to me that I’m turning into an Otter!