Wellington was about a 12 hour bus ride from Auckland. Long enough to watch a lot of Glee! It is the capital city of NZ, known for being windy, and is built around a beautiful harbour. On our drive down, we went past Lake Taupo which was gorgeous, a huge lake in about the middle of the North Island. We definitely want to go back and do some camping, or as the kiwis say, “tramping” there. Isn’t that weird, it sounds a little dirty to me, but I guess camping is dirty though too!
After that there was Tangariro National Park, where some of the LOTR Mount Doom scenes were filmed. These mountains were very different from our mountains, as there were just three or four in the area. This park is supposed to have one of the nicest hikes in NZ so we would really like to get back there too. We will teach ourselves to be outdoorsy yet!
Our first day in Wellington we spent at the museum, Te Papa. This is a huge place, going from earthquakes, colossal squid, and blue whale skeletons (massive! I thought it had to be a dinosaur) to Maori meeting houses and art. However, museums do get old after a bit, so we headed over to the Weta cave, which is a special effects company that does, you guessed it, work for LOTR. Surprise, surprise. This was actually a bit underwhelming, just a small area with mostly figurines for sale. It is amazing what people will buy and for how much. For example, a replica “One Ring” was a measly $4000. Definitely a good investment.
After that, we took the cable car up to a viewpoint over the city. Again the cable car ride was underwhelming, but the view more than made up for it. Wellington is truly beautiful, a bright blue harbour, surrounded by hills, with buildings tucked in wherever they can fit.
Our second day, we split up. Andrew went for a half day LOTR tour, and I browsed the downtown. This was actually the longest we have been apart since we left, a whole 4.5 hours. I know, we’re becoming THOSE people. Soon we will buy matching sweaters. We both had a really good time, and you will have to beg him for details. Maybe you can even get him to write a post. He has some good stories...
Jane took us for a drive around the area, and it was just gorgeous. It reminds us a lot of Oregon, where we went on our honeymoon. We love the coast! We found out about a new sport we would like to try: kite boarding. It looks fun.
Third day was started at Parliament, where we got into all kinds of bad international relations. When we got in there, after going through security, the greeter guy was on the phone, so he just gave us our tour stickers and waved us through. Our tour guide started the tour, and 2 minutes in gave Andrew heck for having a backpack. Oops. He headed back to get rid of and got escorted by security back on the ten second walk. Okay, now we are good, we can go on contrasting the NZ political system to the Canadian one. Second stop, guide notices I have a camera in my hand. Security risk! Oh my, must hand it over to security. Fellow tour grouper comments that the building is obviously very secure as I got my camera in, in my hand. Now please note, the NZ parliament has burned down twice. Maybe they should work on getting some more fire extinguishers around or something rather than banning cameras. However, our tour was nice, our guide was not the most thrilling or attentive but it was okay.
The rest of the day was spent taking a (free!) bus ride around the city, hanging out in a park, and just browsing around. We got packed up and the next morning headed out on the bus. A few people on our bus seemed to have headphone issues, as in not using them, just listening to your music as you please. This gets mighty annoying quickly, especially with Usher and Katy Perry making up most of the playlist. We eventually made it home though, and had a good trip. We like windy Wellington!