Sometimes during our little trip we have felt far away from our home in the UK and at others we’ve felt close. It all depends on contact with friends and family and in todays technically-advanced world keeping in touch is incredibly easy.
Currently we feel like we’re on the other side of the world. Well we are but I guess it’s the post Christmas and New Year come down and we’re feeling the distance. Maybe it’s because our exhilarating South Island romp is now over? That was some trip that we will never ever forget. Whatever the reason, we both need some virtual hugs.
Goodbye South Island
It’s all New Zealand right? No big deal moving from South to North right? Wrong! We felt so sad getting on the Interislander ferry at Picton and truly didn’t want to leave the awe-inspiring, majestic South Island. But that was what we had to do. Our couple of days in Picton had been fabulous though, such a surprise to find how picturesque it was and what amazing walking tracks.
Most people race through Picton on their way to the southern alps or north back to Auckland, big mistake everyone. We loved our stay in Picton and we’re so pleased that we booked a couple of nights rather than just charge through like everyone else.
Just a ferry? No chance. It’s a three hour voyage, maybe a bit dramatic, from Picton in the south to the capital Wellington in the north and goes up the incredible Queen Charlotte Sound. All the passengers checked in then simply boarded, except for us obviously. We met Jock McSporran! As we waited we were approached by one of those meet-and-greet guys, ‘everything alright guys’ sort of thing, and he turned out to be Scottish …… and a sailor …….. and a chatterbox ……. and wouldn’t let us go. In fact we ended up being the last passengers to board. Typical.
Most sensible people rushed for the lounges and the comfy seats and the restaurant. Did we? Nope. Straight outside at the back of the ship to enjoy the trip. Bit blowy at times but not cold and the scenery was draw-droppingly amazing. The Queen Charlotte Sound is 30km long and the ship made its way slowly past so many bays and inlets twisting around mountains on its way to the Cook Strait. Nearly all of the sensible people also wrapped up in hats, coats, jumpers, thick underwear (no idea if they really had thick underwear on but we spent a while thinking about it). We of course were in t-shirts and shorts. Crazy or just English?
Just as we entered the Cook Strait the captain advised everyone to be aware that the sea was rough and to be careful moving around. It turned out to be a little rocky but nothing compared to a bad crossing on the channel. The experienced land sailors took it in their stride!
So exciting to be sailing into a huge harbour next to an iconic city, we almost couldn’t believe it. An easy couple of bus rides and a steep walk and we arrived at our new home for the next couple of weeks. Luckily although we’d booked just a room we actually have the whole apartment to ourselves as the hosts have gone away on holiday, so nice to have a little more space to relax in and of course great that we have an actual kitchen to mess around in!
Wellington is not the biggest of cities and although its New Zealands capital it isn’t as big as Auckland. Only around 200,000 people live here, that’s not even twice as big as Maidstone, so it’s not massive. It does however has bags of character with old colonial buildings galore and an incredible dockside. Lots to see and do we reckoned but as we’re here for two weeks we have plenty of time. Jo was delighted that her dubious Kiwi impression of how they say ‘Fish and Chips’ has been justified now ….
More by luck than judgement we spent a whole day ‘Museuming’. There are a few great museums in Wellington that we had our eyes on, mostly free entry too which is even better, but we hadn’t really planned on doing a mammoth-museum-athon. Just happened. First we visited the Pukeahu National War Memorial and Hall of Memories. Fantastic. They had a Great War Exhibition which included a whole Gallipoli section that was so interesting, wish I’d visited before the ignorant Melbourne couple accused me of leading the Anzacs to their deaths. So much we didn’t know. All created by Sir Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame (least said about LOTR the better, think I’m the only non-believer down here).
After that we visited the fabulous Basin Reserve cricket ground, we love a cricket ground! We’re hoping to get to a one day game this weekend so were checking out tickets etc and managed to get into the New Zealand National Cricket museum whilst we were there (no snoring out there, it really was interesting).
Then to cap it all off, we headed to the world famous Te Papa museum on the waterfront. It’s the incredible 6 floor National New Zealand museum and to be honest we probably need another day to really look around. Yet another Gallipoli exhibition too.
So much to see there but just a quick word about the huge lifelike models in the Gallipoli exhibition. There were several massive models of first world war soldiers scattered throughout which were unbelievably realistic. Nearly two and a half times human scale the models were created by Weta Workshops and just take your breath away.
Is Wellington the windiest city in the world?
Seems to be. Everyone warned us that the wind is something else here and that we needed to be aware of it but it really is incredible. It can be a really calm day when suddenly huge gusts come from nowhere and absolutely blast the city. It’s something to do with the wind crossing the Pacific and coming through the Cook Strait but whatever the cause, it’s incredible. Should have called this post ‘Gusting into Wellington’ or ‘Wafting in’ but a few of you might get the wrong impression what that refers to.
So come on then. Virtual hugs. Where are they? We’re waiting with arms outstretched ………….
11.1 – 12.1.2016