It’s been a while since my last post! I’ve been busy training at my new job at LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation) where I weigh and sample milk that local farmers bring in to be tested for things like fat, protein, and somatic cell content. It’s a repetitive job but the people I work with are incredibly nice and fun to be around so it is a place I enjoy going! This week I begin full time work. So before getting in to it, we decided to take a trip down south to Wellington after purchasing All Blacks vs. Wallabies rugby tickets.
We travelled by bus on InterCity Coachlines which left Hamilton Wednesday night at 10pm and arrived in Wellington Thursday morning at 6:50am. It was quite a chilly bus ride so both Chris and I had trouble sleeping. We were dropped off at the train station in Wellington in the middle of commuter rush hour and were surrounded by the huddled masses. We were among the suit, tie, briefcase and cigarette crowd (a LOT of people smoke here, I guess like any big city) for about 10 minutes until they all walked so fast and passed us. I have never been around people that walk that fast. We headed to our accommodations at the YHA (Youth Hostel Association) Wellington about 25 minutes away. We went the long way through the city instead of following the street that runs along the harbor, but it was worth it because we got our bearings and I was able to take some great pictures of the city.
The hostel was excellent! We had a private room with a view out to the harbor and of the grocery store next door. There was a communal bathroom for the floor but a few doors down from us was a single bathroom with a shower which we ended up using. This YHA facility had everything you could need: a huge kitchen, TV/lounge room, games room, library full of travel books, washing machines and dryers, lockers, computer stations, and a cafe. The staff was extremely knowledgable and friendly as well. I would definitely recommend staying here if you want an affordable room, especially because in Wellington you won’t want to be spending much time in it…
After we dropped off our stuff in the room we went to grab some breakfast on Cuba Street. We had tasty breakfast sandwich bagels at Wholly Bagels & Pizza then picked up a coffee at one of the literally hundreds of coffee shops in town. We also passed by the famous bucket fountain which people in New Zealand say you have to see if you’re in Wellington.
After fueling up we walked around the CBD toward the cable cars which take you high up to the Botanic Gardens as well as the Carter Observatory. By this time we were bracing ourselves against the severe wind and occasional drizzle and both of us were reminded of San Francisco. The weather, the feel of the city, the hustle & bustle of commuters and especially the steep streets really did it. Oh and the look of Wellingtonians.. very stylish and chic. Here we are riding the cable car up to the gardens!
At the top is an incredible view and the Cable Car Museum which has a few retired cars, an exhibit of the gears which run the car, and a few videos and items which show its historic significance to the city.
When you hop off the cable car you must make a decision either to go left toward the gardens or right toward the observatory. We decided on the gardens and got to see gorgeous trees and flowers, fountains, a duck pond and found a playground, too!
After winding our way around the garden, we chose to walk back down to the city instead of take the cable car down. One way down is to walk along the Bolton Street Memorial Park which is the oldest cemetery in Wellington dating back to 1840. When it began as a cemetery it was on the outskirts of the city, but as the city grew, it took the cemetery and molded it to fit the needs of its expanding population. In 1960, they decided to build a motorway which would go through some of the cemetery and as a result they exhumed and relocated around 3,700 graves. After this, it was no longer a burial ground and instead turned into a memorial. Graves at the top of the hill are undisturbed and many headstones line the walkway. It was amazing to see such old markers in the middle of an urban city, it brought history of the town to life for me.
Once we made our way back down to the city we got some lunch at peak lunch time. We passed through a food court completely packed with the huddled masses from the morning and I was totally in awe of how many people don’t pack a lunch. We walked a bit further through the streets to find an actual restaurant to eat in and we found a delicious place, simply called Asian Kitchen. About the size of a dorm room, it fit about 25 people tightly packed in and behind saloon doors somewhere there was a kitchen where they made a variety of asian dishes. I had Pho and Chris had Phad Thai, both hit the spot. Finally, we headed to the waterfront and the national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.
The museum has 6 floors filled with nature, culture, and art exhibits. While we visited they were hosting an exhibit of Warhol pieces and another of impressionist paintings from France and America, those cost extra to see and we were already pretty exhausted from lack of sleep so we decided against it. There was enough to see to there anyway for free! The exhibit we spent a majority of time in was titled “Mountains to Sea” which detailed all types of animal life found in New Zealand. On the ceiling hung bones from a pygmy blue whale, which covered the length of the exhibit and in a huge case was a collection of over 300 native insects. They also showcased many of the birds that are only found in New Zealand as well. We walked along to another exhibit about earthquakes and how they have affected the nation. Chris was about to fall asleep at this point so we headed to the cafe for another coffee. After that we walked around a bit more and decided we would come back another day because we couldn’t go on.
We had seen a lot of barber shops earlier that day and Chris wanted to get his hair cut so that was our last stop before a rest back at the hotel. He chose a decidedly Wellington style of a fade on the sides, long on the top. Then we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, and out one last time for an Italian dinner at Nicolini’s where we had Bruschetta, Ricotta filled Cannelloni, and Sausage Tortelloni with a Marlborough Pinot Grigio. With full stomachs we took in the night life on Courtenay Place and found it bustling even on a Thursday night. At last we couldn’t walk anymore and went back to the room to get a good night’s sleep!