Thursday, 3 January 2013

Wellington

The capital and the end of the north island

We arrived in Wellington following a night camping in the national park both in dire need of showers, so, selecting a hostel from a very out dated Lonely Planet we headed to X-Base. This decision was largely down to the fact that it said it had the most rooms, but also largely due to a map reading error upon entering the city and spotting the logo on a large building on the street we were driving down.

We booked in for three nights so we could see what it was like and then either stay longer or move onto another hostel. While there was free parking for guests, unfortunately it was already taken for the first night so after unpacking the car we drove out to a suburb, Brooklyn, and walked back into the city which turned out to be quite a bit further than expected.

After showering and cooking dinner, we headed down the docks to get a feel for the city. The first thing we noticed was the amount of runners around the decking of the bay area. After a misunderstood joke by Jon at the bar, I had ordered us a jug of low carb beer which we were drinking on a table outside when we both first noticed the sheer traffic of runners passing us by. Again, this made me feel pretty unhealthy, following a short attempt to start running before leaving the UK, and fuelled my desire to take it up again.

We headed back to the hostel where there was a basement bar, for a night full of cheap drinks, with what seemed like an all night happy hour, games (which led me to win a $50 bar tab and a bad headache in the morning) and meeting loads of people from the 6 floors of the hostel.

Over the next few days, we explored the city, heading up Mount Wellington, where the ‘get off the road’ scene was filmed in Lord of the Rings, with rewarding views both from the top and a huge rope swing someone had put up on the mountain side. The walk up was quite easy and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a great perspective on the city.

Although I’m not usually the biggest fan of museums, the Te Papa on the harbour side is well worth a visit. While the interactive elements are probably great for kids, we both had a fun experience, especially on the earthquake simulator where I gave an old lady quite a shock with a high Richter jump. There are different sections on different topics, all of which have a lot to offer and don’t easily lead to boredom so I would also highly recommend a visit here.

After a few nights at X-Base, we decided to move to a different hostel. It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy our stay, but more the fact that most of the other backpackers were on the Kiwi experience or stray bus which came for one night and left the next day, so after a night of making friends they had left most days before you woke up. We looked in the guide and found the Wellywood backpackers, which was described as a busy, lively and social hostel, still in the city centre and sounded perfect for the rest of our stay. While we did meet some great people after moving in, the first thing we noticed was the silence in the big empty spaces. It felt like a ghost town, with a huge kitchen and enough room for about a hundred people, but only about 20 residents. However, the staff where very friendly and we soon made friends followed by a couple of nights out which really showed us why it was the capital, with everything being open late into the night in stark contrast with the other towns which we’d been to on our way there.

Our last night out was to take in what we originally thought was a house party, but turned out to be a small scale rave with live bands and great people. It was great to meet people out of a bar/club environment and all locals rather than the tourist scene that we were used to. Before long it was 6 in the morning and I decided that it was probably best to get some sleep, leading to a complete write off in bed the following day. I didn’t really mind as I’d had a great time here and felt like I’d really got the most out of my stay.

The following day we departed early for our ferry. Jason, our roommate, also needed to catch the ferry so we all bundled in the car and headed down to the dock. Somehow I ended up being directed to be first in line to drive on, and after a huge rev or the engine, where I had forgotten to take it out of park, I crawled up the ramp onto the ferry, accompanied by an awkward explanation to the traffic director.

The Ferry would take us from Wellington to Picton, where we would head on our way round the south island.

(Unfortunately we both left our cameras in the car in Brooklyn for the duration of our stay, which is the reason for the absence of photographic footage. Apologies)

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