I spent four months studying abroad in Wellington, New Zealand and there was nothing I enjoyed more than taking advantage of a sunny day and walking along the harbor. Passing through streets of boutiques and independently owned coffee shops, I would always make a point to walk by my favorite lesser known Wellington landmark: the boat houses.
There might not be anything truly remarkable about these boat houses, they are simply sheds for the Wellington boat owners to keep their supplies, but I found myself drawn to their colors each time I passed. I often saw students leaning against the sheds, enjoying ice cream while they watched the boats bobbing across the way. Occasionally, I saw teenagers sitting on top of the rippled roofs that were all too easy to climb on top of. I liked how the pavement turned green as it sloped into the water and I liked the short waves that lapped up at my boots. Approaching the boat houses felt like walking into a painting every time and I took so many pictures. Each time their vibrant symmetry startled and inspired me to pick up my camera, because today the light was just a little different. Each time, they felt new.
On one of my last days in Wellington, I was walking through town with some friends. We had just spent the last few hours celebrating the end of our exams by lying out on the coarse sands of Oriental Beach. On our way back home, I took them through the boat houses.
"I didn't even know these were here," someone said.
On that warm day in the rarely sunny Wellington, the boat houses were full of loiterers, sitting on the roofs, chatting with their friends, and eating ice cream. This tiny location, unmarked by any guidebook I've read, had become something special to me and I felt sad that my friends were only just discovering it. Objectively, the boat houses are nothing more than storage containers with a nice paint job, but I was enamored with them. The architecture was so authentically kiwi, the bright colors so excellently Wellington, and the air smelled like sea salt.
I'd like to think that all cities have these little places, places that might not stand out on a first visit and that aren't listed in any guide book. These places are hard to find on a short trip, but I think that when you live somewhere long enough they will reveal themselves to you. Places you'll find your feet bringing you back to over and over again. It's truly a privilege to travel and find yourself at home and I'm so happy to to consider Wellington another city that I'll always hold close. I will think of my journeys through the city center, exploring new streets and always making time to pay a visit to the greatest boat houses in the world.