|If you come to Wellington, take the free hour long tour of Parliment. Go ahead of the time you want to take the tour and sign up in advance. During the hour tour you will learn about how New Zealand grew and revised the structure of their representative government over time. While still a government called a Constitutional Monarchy (head of state is a hereditary monarch - Queen Elizabeth), the powers and functions of the Sovereign are exercised within constitutional constraints (elected Prime Minister/elected Representatives). It was interesting to hear that Queen Elizabeth has not been here in the past 25 years! The capital reminded us of many of the well -kept state capitals in the US. In fact, with 4.5million people in New Zealand, there are 26_states in the US that are larger in population than NZ. (Kentucky has 4.4 million people for example). The tour was interesting and historical -- and, with the US having once been a colony like NZ, it was very interesting to see how their path emerged as a colony seeking their own independence versus our path. After we completed the tour, we walked around the long shoreline walkway that goes for miles...we were being blown away by the strong wind so we turned around and headed back. Later in the evening when the wind died down a bit we headed to the Cable Car ride up the side of a tall hill to the area beginning the Botanical Gardens. Then we walked DOWN the steep hill to the hotel instead of walking up like we had done two days earlier! Nice day - we leave tomorrow to begin a two day drive to get to Auckland. It is suppose to be very stormy with gale force winds tomorrow as we travel. We will pick up the car in the morning. Steps today - 20,100 - lots of walking today - we are glad we had the 2.5 days to visit Wellington ---lots to do and see here.