© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

What to Expect From a Parliament Tour in Wellington

© NZPocketGuide.com

74 Days on the Road

This is it, guys! We’re finally reaching it: New Zealand’s capital city! The Big Windy. (An unofficial but extremely appropriate title). We are not even sh*tting you here, but as soon as we hit the sign on the motorway saying “Wellington”, a great gust of wind pounds the campervan. It’s raining sideways, our campervan is wobbling from side to side. Jesus Christ, they were not joking when they said Wellington was one of the windiest cities in the world!

Back to city life!

We’ve come from the peaceful seaside suburb of Plimmerton and the Moana Lodge to the hustle and bustle of the city, which we can really feel when trying to find somewhere to park our beast of a campervan. The hostel we are staying in tonight, Trek Global, doesn’t have any parking left, but the receptionist is rocking the phones trying to find a place for us for free on a Saturday. Meanwhile, we play table football/foosball that we immediately spotted in the quirky entrance to the Trek Global hostel. For ease and convenience we decide, to hell with it, we’ll pay NZ$24 for parking for a night. The only place that seems to fit our camper is an open car parking area next to the Te Papa Museum. We see a long line of motorhomes parked up here and think: “Ah yes, we all have the same idea.” City life, man!

A free rainy day activity

Now we are parked, we can start exploring Wellington! Since we are in the capital city of New Zealand, it is only fitting to visit the parliament buildings and the iconic Beehive where they run free tours. (Plus, it’s raining like hell so this is a good rainy day activity).

The Beehive in all its majesty

Standing tall behind a war memorial, the unmissable architecture of The Beehive sits in its slightly rounded shape with windows made to mimic a honeycomb. We walk up some long steps to find the entrance and see more of the grand buildings, the Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library. Outside is a statue of New Zealand’s longest serving prime minister, Richard Seddon. Behind him, a set of New Zealand flag flap proudly. (By proudly, we mean it’s so effin’ windy!)

No photos! No cameras! No nothing!

There’s the entrance! We are just in time for a tour! We walk into the entrance and are met with bag scanners, human scanners: all the setup you see in the airport. Robin is holding his camera and is met with:

“Put your camera away! No Filming! No photography! No phones! No water! ” Robin is placing the camera in its case…

“Put it away! Put it away! You can take all your pictures on the outside, sir!” Wahhhh!

Emptying our pockets of gadgets takes a good 5 minutes, as we read a sign of about 16 things we cannot do in the Parliament Buildings. Hummm, this is going to make it hard to illustrate this Parliamentary tour for you guys, but a fun challenge nonetheless! Let’s do this!

Let the challenge begin!

The tour with about 30 people starts with a video on how New Zealand’s voting system works, from choosing the members of parliament to how bills become acts or law. Our tour guide introduces herself, goes through the rules (again), and takes us through to Parliament House. Each corridor congratulates former and current members of parliament, from the statues of public figures like Kate Sheppard, who lead New Zealand to be the first country allowing women to vote in parliamentary elections. Photographs of all the past prime ministers, speakers, and government grace the corridor walls, with some explanation of more noteworthy figures given by the tour guide, such as the two women prime ministers and New Zealand’s longest serving speakers and prime minister.

3 representations of The Parliament’s epic fails

1 – It’s not long before we head into the Parliamentary Library. First thing to note is a clock that represents all the clocks that were used in taverns during the time there was a “watch tax”. So the public didn’t have to pay the tax, they just put up clocks in public places, like the tavern, to keep a track of time.

2 – Next, we move into the library itself. This is not a public library, but one used by parliament members and government workers… The first book we notice is “iPad for Dummies”….

3 – The Parliament Buildings in general have has quite a beating over the years. Our tour guide tells us stories of fire after fire that has burnt down most of the original buildings. The library is all that remains of the original structure, although refurbished.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

We walk from decision-making room to decision-making room: the House of Representatives and the Maui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga (Maori Affairs Committee Room). What we love the most about the House of Representatives is that the Speaker sits on a throne made from sheep wool – that’s so New Zealand! The Maui-Tikitiki-a-Taranga is the most beautifully decorated of the select committee rooms with its carvings.

Finally, the tour ends in the basement where we see some earthquake proofing base isolators invented by a New Zealander and is only in the Parliament Buildings, the Te Papa Museum and the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Feeling knowledgable

Now reunited with our beloved cameras, we leave the Parliament Tour feeling a bit more knowledgeable and dry from the rain! We’ll spend the rest of the evening sipping on our complimentary mulled wine from Trek Global and making some mean mash potato, leek, carrots and parsley from the hostel’s free fresh herb selection! See you tomorrow when we are going to visit New Zealand’s most famous museum, Te Papa. See you then!

Wait a minute…

We didn’t even see what is inside The Beehive!

A 360 view from outside the parliament buildings!

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See you tomorrow!