The drive from Hawke’s Bay to Wellington was a touch over 300 KM, and in driving time terms, was by far the longest leg of our trip at over four hours. It was, however, also one of the nicest drives of the trip, with a little bit of everything to see – rolling green fields, tree filled gorges, and rugged coastline. My favourite part was driving past the Te Āpiti wind farm, and I regret not stopping somewhere to take a photo.
We got to Wellington mid-afternoon and were greeted us with some fairly nasty wind and rain, but we were determined to do some exploring and walk off our “car legs”. So, we headed down from our hotel to the Te Papa museum, which had heaps of things to do for the kids. It was a great investment of time – both kids especially enjoyed climbing around inside the life-sized heart of a blue whale. Totally funducational!
Thursday’s weather forecast wasn’t much better, but we were once again determined to get out and explore. And thank goodness we did – the forecast was much gloomier than the actual weather was! Our first port of call was the iconic Wellington Cable Car, which we practically had to ourselves, and so naturally sat right up the front. At the top, we walked through the botanical gardens to the children’s play area – yet another fantastic NZ playground – but we didn’t stay long due to the rain (which started up again while we were there).
I had been noticing a disproportionately large number of barber shops around town (yes, really – so much so it’s been written about) so I figured that Wellington must be very hipster friendly. And, as always seems to be the case when we go on holidays, I was in desperate need of a haircut, so I did a bit of research before deciding that Godfather’s Barbers was the place for me. It was my first time at a barber shop, and I was impressed! No appointment needed, no fuss, just a decent haircut for a decent price. If I didn’t already have a great hairdresser in Brisbane, I think I’d make the switch!
Oscar and Leo’s main interest in pretty much any place we visited was the playgrounds, and Wellington certainly has some good ones. As mentioned, the one in the botanical gardens was a winner, but by far the favourite was Frank Kitts park. It’s shining feature (pun intended) was a tall lighthouse equipped with an equally tall slide, which Oscar sped down countless times. In fact, his wish for the day was to “go to a playground and stay for two hours” and I think it was just about granted on the lighthouse slide alone. Suffice to say, he slept very well that night.
Seemingly, the main place to do anything in Wellington is Cuba Street, and Kristy had tactically chosen our accommodation to be within close walking distance. We could have happily whiled away much more time strolling along and browsing at Cuba Street’s shops were it not for the fact that shopping turns out not to be the kids’ favourite activity. But we still managed to pick up a few cool things, not to mention eat at a few trendy places – Grill Meats Beer was a standout.
Since we had a car, we also took the opportunity to get out and explore Wellington’s surrounds. We drove up to the Mount Victoria Lookout and were impressed by the 360 degree view – but oh my was it windy up there!
Kristy had also read about a great milkshake shop called Scorch-o-Rama in Scorching Bay – which I thought was supposed to be an ironic name because it was freezing, but apparently it can get quite hot in summer months. The milkshake lived up to its reputation – a real old-school chocolate thickshake, just like and old fashioned milk bar.
All in all, I quite enjoyed our visit to New Zealand’s capital, and I suspect I’d be quite happy to live there – yes, even with the wind and the rain! (I can’t say the same about the rest of our party though.) We had three full days there to see the sites – which in retrospect was probably one day too many – but it meant we could do things entirely at our own pace, and we weren’t hurried to get anywhere.
And so completed our two week holiday to New Zealand’s north island, and what a wonderful holiday it was!