Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
7Trip End Feb 27, 2009
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Where I stayed
We took a LONG bus ride from Taupo to Wellington. Since there isn't really a national train service, the coach lines are pretty extensive. However, big surprise, the bus ran about an hour late coming into Taupo. oh well.
Wellington has a cool artsy vibe. It's very hilly and very windy! We walked all around the central city but didn't get many pics of the old architecture. alot of victorian houses and coffee shops. it has more cafes than any other NZ city and we were a-ok with that. it's also the capital city with the old parliament buildings right next to an 80's office building called the "BeeHive."
I had heard that the wind whipping in from the harbor could get strong but I really had no idea. forget trying to have a good hair day. We took a public bus out to a suburban neighbhood on the coast so we could do a day hike along the coastline to this area called Red Rocks and see some seals. Turns out that it was the wrong time of year for the seals but the scenery was great. alot of local families out and about and, oddly enough, you can drive along the rocky shore as long as you have 4WD so we had to be careful not to get run over. but THEN.... the wind picked up. it was crazy. i'm talking blow-you-over strong and it was painful when the rocks and sand started to pelt us. we felt like were were in the desert in a sand storm with nowhere to hide. the other crazy thing was that not everyone who drove in was really prepared for the sandy "road" -- we saw a couple vehicles get stuck and people lending a hand to get them out. it was a weird day day to say the least. Once we got back in town we thought we'd return to civilization by going to see a movie. We ended up watching "Australia" at the fancy movie theatre where the third LOTR movie held it's premiere. Inside the redone lobby they had lots of photos of Peter Jackson (who is from Welly) and various actors. The day before we left we were walking down one of the main streets downtown and I saw an A-board outside an African restaurant advertising a viewing party for the Obama inauguration. I stopped to take a pic and the owner rushed out to hand us a flyer with more info. If only we were still in town for it! (as it turned out, we ended up camping out in the wilderness in Tasmania during the inauguration, plus with the time difference we would have had to get up at 4 a.m. so we missed it!). It is kind of weird not to be in your home country with some of the stuff going on that we've been hearing about. Like the Illinois governor's scandal. What the hell? We first read about that in the newspaper up in Keri Keri. It's right up there with the time we were traveling around Ireland and I read about Britney Spears' wedding.
Wellington is by far my favorite of the big cities. Loads of cafes with an assortment of architecure across all decades of the 1900's makes for a cool vibe. Like Amanda said the wind is INSANE! I didn't have as many hair issues as her but it can still be punishing. The Kiwi at the hut up at Tongariro Crossing was exactly right..."It's the wind that will drive you mad". On any visit to NZ you gotta go to Wellington for at least a couple of days. They have a sweet NZ museum called Te Papa which i think is translated to "Our Place" in Maori. Macs Brewery on the waterfront is great place to grab a beer and watch people getting blown over. Fidel's is a must for anyone serious about coffee, cakes and socialism AND its on Cuba Street. The coffee is great and don't forget to bring in your red socialist card to get a 5% discount...luckily I had mine with me.
Question of the Week:
What is a bogan?
A: Ham and cheese toastie
B: White Trash
C: Famous NZ Cigar
We celebrated both John's birthday and New Year's in Welly. For John's b-day we splurged and went to one of the best restaurants in town called Logan Brown which is inside an old bank. It was, not surprisingly, my favorite meal in Wellington. We had bread with their "olive oil sampler" and amazing entrees. It's not every time that the best meal is the most expensive but it was true in this case! For NYE (as they call it) we counted down the clock at a cool bar called the Southern Cross that had a great outdoor patio with a separate bar (where people were bravely putting up with the wind gusts) and a live band inside plus a separate room with board games on offer. The crowd was a mix of all ages, some dressed up, some not. Not a bad way to ring in 2009!