Our final destination in North Island before heading south was Wellington. Wellington is New Zealand’s capital but is a fairly small city at just 200,000 people. It is known for gale forces winds of which we did not experience but can imagine quite easily. It’s also known for having good food, good bars and a vibrant cultural life. I was looking forward to seeing it for myself.
We started our day with the touristy activity by spending an hour or two at the Weta Caves on the behind-the-scenes tour. On this tour we got to see props and costumes created by Peter Jackson’s company Weta. We saw artefacts from the Hobbit, LOTR, District 9 and Elysian. I was not sure beforehand if this would be some tourist trap/naff tour but it was actually very well done. Our tour guide was a Weta employee and we got to see others at work. There was no annoying chat and lots of real props.
After our Weta Caves adventure we headed into the city centre for a whistle stop art themed walking tour using our Lonely Planet as a tour guide. Wellington like most major New Zealand cities (except Queenstown) is on the coast and enjoyed a nice looking harbour. It was very windy during our walk so we did not linger but I’d imagine it’s a nice place to sit for a while and watch the world go by. My favourite piece on our tour was Neil Dawson’s “Ferns” which hangs in the Civic Centre.
Following our tour we went out to our first restaurant dinner in New Zealand. This was at Logan Brown on Cuba Street. To make the most of our money we opted for the pre-theatre dinner menu with a set price of $40 NZ. Ian had been eager to try New Zealand lamb and was happy to find it was on this menu. I chose the tarahiki which is a fish I had not had before. Both meals were very nice although, after our camping meals, I think we were hoping for something a little larger.
As may be expected our evening was then followed by sampling the beer and cider in Wellington’s pubs. We were less impressed with the huge Mac’s Brew Bar on the harbour than we had hoped but liked the darker underground Hashigo Zake.
The evening was concluded by our ferry crossing to the South Island. Despite reading it was a notoriously bad crossing everything was smooth and we arrived in Picton early the next day to start our South Island journey.
Beers: A few