Blog One – Wellington
Saturday 12 May 2018
After leaving work yesterday and doing some final packing, cleaning and watering (and a great sparkling Verdelho we ended up having not too bad a sleep, at least as well as can be expected when you have to be up early to catch a morning flight. We woke even before the alarm and headed to airport to now familiar automatic check in – well almost. The bag drop didn’t like Ju’s bag so another one had to do the job. Right on the 23kg mark. Well planned. The rest of the check in and customs was fairly easy with Wuzz having the full body scan and Jo not being recognised by the auto face scan. Ten years is a long time between drinks! Sooner than expected we were boarding and with a very strong tail wind we headed over the Tasman and even though we were late leaving we arrived early in the windy city.
While still a little apprehensive about our passports not having six months remaining, the automatic processing of our passports went through without a hitch and we soon had our bags, duty free and were in a taxi and at the Travelodge for three nights. A quick unpack and we were on the streets for a wonder around the hip and happening capital of NZ.
As usual our first stop was just down Plimmer Steps to ….STARBUCKS! Yes right at the bottom of the Travelodge is Ju’s favourite haunt and we took in the atmosphere of the city on the footpath enjoying a bevie of choice. Next up is the obligatory walk to the info centre and we loaded up on brochures and information to map out our next three days. We still had some daylight left and went for a walk through the city centre including the hip Cuba Street and surrounds and the waterfront. Wellington has a great vibe and not the standard tall cement buildings which is a nice change from Oz cities. The waterfront area in front of Te Papa (museum) is a good walk and not commercialised at all and only contains a few eating and drinking places down one end.
We then headed back to Cuba Street for dinner as Saturday night is food truck night. We feasted on some dumplings and a lamb curry roti before rounding it off with a disappointing sweet similar to what had in the Czech Republic but significantly less appealing! With stomachs satisfied and a good few steps under the belt we headed back for the evening, with a quick stop for orange juice to have a duty free night cap!
Sunday 13 May 2018
We were up early and the weather continued to be typically Wellington – wet, wet, wet. We decided to head over to Starbucks for a morning coffee/frappa and chill in the upstairs area and simply enjoy the fact that we have another four weeks away. A very nice way to spend a Sunday morning.
Fortunately the other sort of Wellington weather (windy) wasn’t too bad as we walked back to the info centre. We decided to stick to an indoors activity in the morning and booked the Weta Cave tour. This was an eye opener. The little company that started in the late eighties and has bloomed into a billion dollar business making film props and commissions while also branching into the digital world has been involved in a lot of movies and most we weren’t aware of. The scale of what they do and also the quality of the work is quite amazing. It’s all about the quality and movie props can take years to make, sometimes only to be cancelled when completed. It was a very worthwhile tour and the number 2 bus took us on a bit of tour from the city to the Miramar Peninsular and back again. The three trolls at the entrance to the “cave” were old friends from The Hobbit. Very handy for photos.
Back to the city and we went back to the markets to pick up a few supplies for the coming days and a walk back to our Wellington home to secure our bounty before heading back out to wonder around the streets near us, which is the high end/international shopping area of the city. Not nearly as interesting as the Cuba Street area but still worth a look to see who’s who and what’s what. We called it an day around dusk and headed back to the hotel for a relaxing evening and a couple of vodkas. The channels on the hotel are NOT scintillating but we managed a show or two before calling it a night.
Monday 14 May 2018
Up and out of the hotel at a very decent 8:30 to head back to Cuba Street for brekkie at a café and then to Te Papa to view the Gallipoli Exhibit. We had a quick glimpse of what to expect at the Weta tour on Sunday with an example of their contribution on display. The exhibit shows the NZ contingent of the ANZACS from before the start of the war through to the end of the Gallipoli campaign, There is lots of commentary both on the walls and also in audio but it is the displays that really make the exhibit come to life. There are replicas of soldiers in 1:2.4 scale and everything is unbelievably life like down sweat, hair and clothes all down in such a way as to look as though frozen in time and ready to come life any second. They also tell a story of particular soldiers and their experience during the invasion of ANZAC Cove. The fact that it is free is quite surprising and this month they had their two millionth visitor. We would think it hard to envisage anyone of them who didn’t admire what the museum had been able to achieve in telling the NZ side of the Gallipoli campaign.
We spent two hours in the exhibit and took a look through the gift shop before venturing back out into the Wellington weather which had not improved and continued it’s drizzle if not getting a bit worse. We then walked to call in at Hertz just to confirm the booking and find out exactly where we need to pick our rental tomorrow. Unfortunately the name wasn’t 100% correct and we ended up walking a bit further than expected but it wasn’t too bad. The booking confirmed we headed to Hannah’s Laneway where there are a few boutique food shops. Being a Monday quite a few were closed so we ended up at the chocolate shop and shared a hot chocolate which was very nice. The rest of their products were hideously expensive so after finishing the hot chocolate we headed off back up Cuba for a walk.
There wasn’t much that we hadn’t seen already and the drizzle was really starting to settle in so we stopped at a microbrewery for an American ale before heading down to the Queens Wharf area for a look around. As the rain showed no sign of letting up we settled on a waterfront restaurant and bar with a bottle of Central Otago Pinot Gris and nibbles. The wine was great and we passed an hour or two watching the rain and the local ferry come and go. A very pleasant way to finish our stay in Wellington. We then headed back to the hotel to do a little bit of packing an prepare to start our touring component of the North Island.