14 Mar 2016

Over The Mtn's & Thru The Woods - NZL by valeriepeltier

27/34

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This morning Lauren was heading out for her tour of the workshop for the Lord of The Rings Movie, and since I was not accompanying her on this adventure I instead went for a walk downtown in search of a good cup of coffee and a quiet space to sit and read my book in the morning sunshine.
The city centre where we were the day before had a cafe right on the water with several bean bag chairs that you could pick up and move around the tiered lawn, so i grabbed one and moved it off to the side in order to have my own little space in the sunshine.
I ordered my coffee and pulled out my book, and sitting there for a few hours listening to the cafes playlist of jazzy songs while waiting for Lauren to return.
When Lauren returned we sat together and ate our lunches, mine being more of the hummus and crackers with cucumber I had purchased the day prior from the market, and Lauren's being the cheese and crackers from the grocery shop.
Before heading on to the gardens for the afternoon, Lauren wanted to look for a Gelato shop, so I asked the girl in the cafe where the closest one was and it happened to be just up the street. I had such good intentions that I would just accompany Lauren to the shop and not purchase anything, but the gelato got the better half of me and I caved. I got a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of peanut butter caramel. They were absolutely delicious and we ate them up so quickly, especially because they were melting in the sun. Near the end of mine I managed to bite the cone the wrong way ergo slopping chocolate on my pants, shirt and the bench on which we were sitting on. There was not much I could do other than wipe it off, which I did and then we continued on towards the gardens for the afternoon.

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We had walked approximately half way to the gardens reaching the main strip of shops with side alleys extending into what seemed like nowhere, until we came across the one that led us directly towards the cable car that traversed the hillside directly up to the top of the gardens. We had heard that it is quite the experience and decided that we would take it up to the top of the gardens and make our way back down.
As soon as we had our tickets, we walked past the gate onto the platform, and within minutes the cable car was descending into the station. I stood at the end in order to get a photo and then joined in the line to get on. The seats were wooden slatted bench seats some wide enough to fit one person and others that fit two people. By the time Lauren and I got on there were not any spots left together so we each sat on separate sides. The ascent was not long at all and passed through a couple tunnels that lit up with colourful lights flashing in patterns. At the top platform, which was the last stop there was a cable car museum displaying the very first cable car and pictures of the track when it was first built. It also showcased the timeline of the cable car and how its importance has developed over the years.
I grabbed a map of the gardens when we headed out of the museum and we began wandering along the winding paths, at first with a general plan, and eventually just completely wandering and taking which ever path looked best to us. We walked slowly since the weather was warm and sunny and we had all afternoon. We kept our own pace stopping each at the plants that intrigued us most.
The path changed as we went on going from concrete to stones to wood chips where it passed through the fern gully. At the top of the hill a few very large trees stood strong beside an art installation, created for people to stop and listen to the sounds of nature and the city combined together.
We continued down the other side of the hill where the path led us to the bottom of the tree house which was more or less an info center, and as we were about to press the button for the elevator we could hear it coming down with people inside who were making ape noises. When they reached the bottom and the doors opened one of the girls got quite embarrassed and was hoping that we didn't hear them. There were a few information panels inside along with a couple interactive bits for the kids as well as a looped video playing on the screen off to the side. I ended up finding a map again while we wandered around so I figured out the easiest path to the duck pond and we set off for it.
A stone bridge led us over a stream to a viewing platform where you were able to sit and watch the ducks swim about and plunge their heads underwater to feed. We stayed for a little while watching them go about their business and admired the detail of their feathers and the different types of ducks and how they were interacting with one another.
Both Lauren and I felt we had gotten our fill of the gardens so we followed the main path out towards downtown. Along the way we passed a rose garden which we stopped at in order admire the colours and fragrances. While Lauren continued looking at the roses I walked across the road to a man made waterfall, sitting at the base watching the ducks bathe.
The remainder of the path followed a small side road that bordered the edge of the gardens until emerging into a historic cemetery where signs pointed you in the direction of well known priests and names of people who held high social status back then. The cemetery was interesting to walk through, but for me I personally enjoy walking through gardens much better.