Wellington Scoop

Such a strange city for a stranger


by Rachel Pommeyrol
“You can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb.” This sentence by kiwi poet Lauris Edmond welcomes the foreigner in front of the sea. The foreigner feels instructed to discover everything the city has to offer.

A French person is surprised by many things. First, Welly, like its nickname, is a small city. The low-income housing which abounds in France seems a long way from the capital city of New Zealand.

Among other things a French person has to give up is the sidewalk. Not only the cars circulate on the left, but the pedestrians too – and there is no international driver’s license for hanging out in the city.

Kiwis claim they have good and natural produce, and I affirm the milk is far better than the French. Nonetheless New Zealand potatoes are absolutely sickening. Not to mention the bread. Speaking of food, Wellingtonians eat very early, at 6pm, whereas the French tourist usually has dinner at 8pm.

Something striking for a French tourist is the fact that plastic bags are still given out in shops – something now forbidden in France, even for vegetables.

There are electric cabs and buses – they will be the first to deal with climate change in this century. But there are still a lot of plastic bags. Ridiculous.

Apart from that, a foreigner can accept some things in Wellington. Such as the music all around the streets. Everyone sings well. Actually, everyone here seems to have an incredible talent in any art – much more than the most famous French artists, by the way.

A foreigner might dislike the rain, but not a French person, who knows how precious it is – mainly for agriculture but also for the beauty of the grass. And, I have to say that the city is wonderful when the sun succeeds in beaming through the raindrops.

Wellington also has peculiarities which a French person cannot but love: the many fish and chip shops (the food everywhere actually), the markets which take place in strange places, the famous cable car to the botanic garden, the Maori culture – I notice that Kiwis love to use Maori words, as if they want to confuse their French interlocutor.


And the sea, such a wonderful sea. The reflections give it thousands of shades of blue; its sound spreads all over the city.


Finally, the best quality which Wellington can claim is its people. All of them are nice, from the taxi driver who gives you a Snapper card for the bus to the ones who welcome you into their daily life. Everyone has a nice word and a smile. There is a real serenity. Far from the fear of the others, far from the wars, far from all the things that make you worried most of the time in France. Very far from the hatred. What makes Wellington a capital city is its humanity.

Rachel Pommeyrol has come from France to work at Scoop during the New Zealand election.


  1. Neil Douglas, 16. August 2017, 21:34

    J’espère que vous appréciez votre séjour en Wellington.

    e voudrais suggerer Le Cloche pour un bon baguette.

  2. Traveller, 16. August 2017, 22:51

    Et aussi Le Moulin for the world’s best almond croissants.