Like WOW


This is an old post originally from the astro site. I’m in the process of moving all my old travel & recipe posts across to here…apologies for any boredom in the interim!

You always get your money worth out of a landing at Wellington Airport. On a good day flying in from Sydney over the Southern Alps is incredible and just like a scene out of Lord of the Rings. On a windy day, you get a great view of whichever way the wings have dipped as the pilot tries to keep the plane heading straight rather than sideways.

The wind is one of the defining factors of Wellington. City sculptures are based on wind events- the Wind Needle indicates when ever present strong wind becomes gale-force, the yellow “smarties” at Lambton Quay are wind activated, and the dancing water sculpture on the harbour front is also dictated by wind speed. The local Rugby team is called the “Hurricanes” and the city’s nickname is “Windy Wellington”.

Houses along from Oriental Bay (Pic by me 2008)

But Wellington is not just about extreme weather conditions. Houses cling to the side of the steep hills, and narrow roads and personal cable cars take residents to their homes. Wellingtons’ famous cable car takes you (for $5NZD return) up to the Botanical Gardens and some of the best views in town- all without you having to push yourself up there.

Walking the dog in Wellington can be classed as an extreme sport and is a short cut to buns of steel. I have a theory that training for the rugby team would simply consist of trying to walk up a hill against the might of a sub-antarctic southerly.

Also extreme is the annual World of Wearable Arts Award Show- WOW. Now in its’ 21st year, of which the last 5 years have been in Wellington, the tickets for the shows 2 weeks now sell out in a matter of hours. I have been to the last 3 years and still have no way of describing it. It is art, it is design, it is fashion, it is dance, it is theatre, it is 2 hours of creativity gone absolutely mad. There are light effects, fireworks, amazing sets, aerial work, great choreography, music and, this year, a Mini Cooper decorated with thousands of mini mosaic glass tiles- out of which climbed cat-suit clad singers and silver lame shorted muscle men to the tunes of “Holding out For a Hero” and “Macho Man”.

The Street Theatre outside the stadium on the Harbour front continues inside. Performers dance and stretch up the aisles. A man in perfect Monroe-esque drag- a strappy white frock, heels, copious amounts of underarm hair and a goatee beard – follows us up the stairs to our seats. A frumpy lady in crimpolene, with mesh shopping bags, hair in rollers and a fag hanging out the side of her mouth delightedly greets patrons with a hug and a loud “Shirley, how are you love?” Mexican clad ukulele players entice the crowd into waves, chants and yells. Meanwhile on stage, a 50’s Housewife is hanging sheets on rows of clothesline- these will later become the sails on a Pirate Ship in the 1st category.  The warm-up is part of the spectacle, and nothing that occurs on that stage is random.

The main tip I would give to WOW Virgins is to expect the unexpected and above all, ensure your bladder is absolutely empty before sitting down, because you are glued to that seat for a looong time. The 1st year I went, we had dinner before the show, with a few drinks. We then had a pre show vino and took another to our seats. By the time the Men’s section was about to start and the sound effects of rain started to back the track “Its Raining Men”, life was pretty uncomfortable… and there were still 3 categories to go!

Window display (pic by me 2008)

During the 2 weeks of the show, Wellington dresses up. Previous winners are displayed at the airport, Te Papa Museum and elsewhere throughout town. The official website has details of the Wearable Art Wander. Keep an eye out also for individual shops (primarily) along Lambton Quay and Featherstone St decorating mannequins in Wearable Art. In one shop-front I saw a dress made entirely out of pegs, and another from folded serviettes, another from rubber thongs- although the Kiwis are constantly reminding me that they wear their thongs elsewhere & that rubber flip flops worn on the feet are “jandals”.

The Wearable Arts Show- unexplainable, unbelievable, unforgettable and, as the ad says… Absolutely Positively Wellington.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

One thought

  1. Oh, wearable art… sounds perfect. I’m into more ‘functional’ art I must admit.

    I haven’t been to Wellington. I v.overdue for a NZ visit to see my bestie (she would even get me cheap / free flights as she is a flight attendant!). She’s on the south island though!

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