Trip Start Jan 02, 2012
Trip End Dec 14, 2012

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Trek Global Backpackers

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Following our fantastic stay over Christmas and New Year in Woodend with Di, John, Ryan, Bradley, Lilly and Paddy, we were ready to set off to our new home for the next year: Wellington! With an early (7.45 a.m.) flight from Christchurch booked we already had the alarm set early, but we were awake even earlier due to another quake. This one was a 5.5 but thankfully, after an eternity on hold calling the airport, the flight hadn't been affected. We were off!

After the 40 minute flight we landed in-between the water, valleys and hills surrounding the city and were greeted by the "All Blacks" Hollywood sign just outside the airport. A quick bus ride landed us in our new temporary home: the Trek Global hostel. We enjoyed our stay in Wellington's shiniest, newest hostel; when talking to the manager he was surprised with it's popularity, we didn't mention it to him that it may be because it happened to be the cheapest place to stay in the city...

Our first few days involved exploring the city to find our bearings, from the harbour front to the beach on Oriental Parade to the shopping street districts of Cuba and Lambton. We covered miles trekking around house-hunting, but by our first Friday here we had shaken hands on a place on The Terrace and were moving in next week. Time for a celebratory curry!

That weekend, relieved, we took to a bit of sight seeing. First stop was the botanical gardens overlooking the city, which included the cable car museum which we dutifully went into following the cable car ride that got us up to the gardens. It was here that we first discovered that Wellington holds a plethora of private cable cars leading up to million dollar properties along the harbourside. Unfortunately our apartment didn't come with one... The steep, beautiful walk back down through the gardens and city cemetery gave us an insight into why the private cable cars are prevalent!

The following day the weather was shocking with gusting winds and lashing rain. We were a little bit worried by the thought that if this was Summer...?! Wellington averages winds of 22kph by the way. With trepidation, we headed out not to watch the cricket which was called off due to the weather, but to the cake tin (or Westpac stadium), home of the Wellington Phoenix. Having a season ticket at Bradford City ensured Michael enjoyed the shocking match that ensued, and Amy enjoyed her first meeting with the enthusiastic Yellow Fever supporters (although she didn't notice that the opposition had scored - mainly due to the fact that it was an Australian team and they only had one supporter in the entire stadium). The next few days before moving in saw us take in a smidgin of the impressive (both in size and quality) Te Papa museum and watch the Hell Wellington Firebirds lose badly at 20-20 cricket at the Basin Reserve.

Thankfully we were picked up by our letting agent from the hostel and driven to the flat, as we had set about expanding our belongings carried in the backpacks since knowing we were moving in, and it would have taken a few trips otherwise! That week we settled in and unpacked, happy to be in a proper home of our own after 4 months on the road. Amy unleashed her talents on the kitchen's oven, while Michael set about making sure the apartment was up to his Mum's cleaning standards! In between cooking and cleaning, Michael popped into his new school a few times, Wellington High, to get a sneak-peak before school started back in earnest, and Amy began her job hunt from our fixed abode. We also had our gym induction on the ground floor of the building, the instructor wasn't too put-out by Amy promising that she probably wouldn't be using it at all!

The following weekend we set about taking in all the sights and sounds Wellington has to offer in the Summertime. We strolled through the LGBT festival (and scooped a free ice-block each), watched acts in the packed Pasifika Festival (Amy got her BML/events head on when walking round the tents) and took in a couple of matches at the beach handball competition. On Sunday we tasted our way through one of the outdoor markets in town before heading over to Te Papa for a free improvised comedy tour of some of the major exhibits. Amy giggled away throughout the tour, and Michael was volunteered to look silly in the final chapter of the crazy set-piece that concluded the tour. That Monday was Wellington Day (each city in NZ has it's own day which is a bank holiday for that place) and to mark the occasion we went down to see what the intriguingly named 350 Bird Man event at the water front was. It turns out it was raising awareness of environmental issues, carbon-neutrality to be precise, and involved volunteers jumping into the murky water from a big plank while being cheered on by the baying crowd. The event's highlights were the BMX jumpers and the 12 Santa and a reindeer team that proved to be the finale of the afternoon.

Later that week the prospect of having to actually work for a living rose it's inevitable head. Michael had a new staff induction day and an enjoyable teacher only day (topped off by free staffroom drinks), whilst Amy had a successful interview and was to start work at Housing New Zealand Corporation on Monday, handily located 2 minutes from our house!

We filled the final January weekend by wandering around the St Kitts underground market in the morning and then hopping on a train to Nae Nae a little further up the coast that afternoon. Why, you may ask? Well, The Hobbit was holding open auditions! Excitedly we disembarked the train and headed to the hall where we were going to find our fame and fortune. We passed hundreds of hopefuls, gleefully spotting those with dwarf-like or Elven frames, or those people with "character" faces. Unfortunately we weren't the only people wanting to take in the spectacle, and the police had shut it down due to the sheer volume of the crowds. Temporarily deflated we decided a round of mini golf in a nearby park would raise our spirits.

On Sunday, we watched the (possibly crazy) competitors in the ocean swim events at the beach and went to our second Phoenix game. Thankfully the match was a more engrossing affair than our previous visit, with Wellington running out 3-1 winners. On 80 minutes, in time-honoured tradition, the Yellow Fever supporters dutifully took off their tops as they were winning.

Monday rolled around quicker than we may have liked and that morning we set about our new routines, heading off early, out to work, sob!
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