Writing inspirations: the Wellington writers’ walk

Take a stroll around the waterfront in Wellington, New Zealand, and it’s not hard for writers to find inspiration. On any sunny weekend this two-kilometre stretch of wharf and water frontage, backed by the national museum, boating harbours and the high-rises of Wellington city, buzzes with people.

Every one of them has their own story, and it’s fun to sit down at the gelato shop, watch, and imagine. Why is that woman jogging with a pram? Is she trying to get fit – or just in a hurry? There are schoolkids, leaping with laughing abandon from the wharf-to splash into deep water below. It’s a major drop. Do they do it for a dare? For bragging rights? Or just because it’s summer, and they are young, and it is hot.

Elsewhere a busker wails over his battery PA system. His voice sounds like he is singing from the bottom of a drain. Does he do it for income, or because he likes singing? Nobody pays him any attention. Maybe he likes annoying people.

Stories flow around this place; real stories, imaginary stories. Inspiring stories. Cool stories, and, I am sure, sad stories. It is a place for inspiration. And the gem – for me at least – remains the writers’ walk. Quotes from nearly twenty of New Zealand’s best known authors are scattered with seemingly joyous abandon across nearly a kilometre of waterfront. The concrete plaques peek, coyly, from gardens; they nestle in shadowy corners of wharves. And they rest where the sea laps across them.

The wisdom of their words – the frozen thoughts of authors whose corporeal forms, in many cases, are now dust – speaks to us across the years. Their insights remain timeless.

Later, I’ll post some of the more interesting ones in detail.

Right now, I’d like to know more about you – do you have a place like this that inspires you? Or somewhere very different, that is personal to your style? Where you can go to find inspiration, people and – oh yes, gelato.

 Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012

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9 comments on “Writing inspirations: the Wellington writers’ walk

  1. Wonderful that the waterfront inspires you, I hope you walk it often, I imagine a walk often shakes up thoughts and ideas too, I find just getting outside can be inspiring, because a chance of environment enables me to see things differently.

    But places that inspire, I think for me it is locations I have travelled to, usually associated with some kind of experience – like Vietnam because it was the first country where I was completely on my own – so it continuously arises in my subconscious and then the NZ countryside because that was where I spent my childhood.

    However one of my favourite places was a location I imagined first and found second. I started writing a story which became a novel and imagined the small fishing village where the protagonist grew up and then decided to go in search of it early on while writing about it – and found it on the Ligurian Coast of Italy – gelato and all :)

  2. That’s pretty awesome – finding your imagined location as a real place! Must have been a wonderful moment. Places absolutely inspire – often, I find, it is the change of scene as much as the place itself.

    I’m not the only one to be inspired by Wellington harbour. My old history professor, Peter Munz, used to take a little boat and paddle out into it, drifting alone with his thoughts.

  3. ljclayton says:

    The waterfront at Wellington looks so gorgeous I wouldn’t be able to think of anything else. I’m afraid I get too easily distracted especially by beautiful places.

  4. Diana only recently introduced me to the joys of gelato…not that my waistline needs it! Where to go on a sunny day for inspiration? Well, the airport is always fun. Or the library. Or the bookstore. Sometimes the lovely city of Asheville. Not much in this part of NC to match a gorgeous waterfront like the one you describe…I’d love to see it someday.

    • It’s a lovely place on a sunny weekend afternoon. Have to admit Wellington airport is a good place to visit, too – it’s one of the world’s hairiest for landings, it regularly features on ‘world’s worst landing’ YouTube compilations. Something to do with having only a 6000 foot runway and vicious crosswinds, courtesy of the shape of the hill around Rongotai, where it was situated in 1928 against Kingsford Smith’s advice.

  5. I haven’t tried the waterfront. Sound’s like a great place to check out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. [...] different from the Wellington writers’ walk. The Wellington walk celebrates local New Zealand writers. In Sydney the flavour is more [...]

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