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Living on the Edge, Wellington, New Zealand

Updated on August 29, 2007

Our Favorite Man In Wellington

Wellington, New Zealand (also known to a few as the capital of Middle Earth) is a thriving, compact little metropolis that boasts both wild terrain and high culture theater within 20 minutes drive of one another. A motivated traveler can observe the seal colony at Red Rocks, and then be sitting in on a performance of 'Swan Lake' or some other such artistic delight at the historic St James Theater just an hour or two later. Life is full of pleasant contradictions in 'Windy Wellington'.

Though it is ostensibly one of the more affluent cities in New Zealand, the homeless play a significant role in Wellington culture, and many are known to locals affectionately by various monikers. Perhaps the most famous drifter of contemporary times is 'Blanket Man'. Known as 'Brother' to friends, this Maori man can often be seen wearing not much besides shorts and a blanket around his shoulders, listening to an MP3 player and relaxing at on the side of the road, or in Cuba Mall, where the eclectic and alternative gather to share raucous tales of drinks drunk and body parts pierced.

All this takes place just a few streets from the parliament buildings, and the infamous Beehive building, which serves as Parliament's main building. Shaped like a large hive, it houses some of the busiest and brightest minds in the country, as well as many politicians. In the CDB you will find both designer boutiques with hopelessly overpriced clothing, and smaller snack stores selling fish and chips and pies, sometimes within a few steps of one another, which is nice if you don't mind a bit of tomato sauce on your designer clothing.

If there is a downside to Wellington, it would have to be that it lies over a major fault line. Indeed, the motorway which connects Wellington to the rest of the North Island was thrown up in Volcanic activity just a few hundred years ago, and the center of Wellington's CDB boasts cheerful plaques proclaiming where the shoreline used to be in 1840. Looking out over the buildings which have been optimistically constructed between these plaques and the new shoreline, one cannot help but admire the sheer nerve of designers and builders alike. "She'll be right," is a standard phrase in the New Zealand conversational arsenal, and it would seem that this phrase has gone so far as to be indoctrinated into the psyche of those who make their homes and lives in this cheerfully tenuous city.

No day is guaranteed in Wellington, but don't let that get you down, the locals don't mind, and as they say, "It hasn't happened yet."

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