Monday 31st December – Thursday January 3rd 2013
I am rather behind with my blog postings (due to difficulty finding free wifi where I am currently) but am now up to writing about our New Year Adventure in Wellington – the middle of middle-earth! Despite having been to New Zealand twice before and having been here since September we had still not yet visited Wellington. Almost everyone we had met had told us how much they loved Wellington (or Welly as it is affectionately known) and declared we just had to visit. So we thought the perfect time was New Year – as we could spend a few days exploring and take in the supposedly spectacular fireworks. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas . . .
I will take you back to New Years Eve, as we checked out of our lovely suite at the Heritage in Queenstown, dropped our hire car back and waited for our flight. We enjoyed some nice potato wedges and ice cream at the airport (definitely one of my favourite airports!). We left Queenstown and after a pretty bumpy first part to the journey soon arrived in Wellington. We took the bright orange airport bus to our accommodation – and it was certainly nice that the airport was closer to the city centre than in Auckland! We hopped off the bus at Courtney Place and walked the last part to our accommodation – called ‘At Home‘. This had recently won an award for ‘Top 25 hotels in the South Pacific’ so we had high hopes, and it didn’t disappoint! The living space was large – we were in a one bed apartment, and the owners seemed very friendly. The apartment had everything we needed and we overlooked Te Papa museum so were in a great location. That evening we headed out for a walk along the waterfront and grabbed a takeaway pizza. By this stage the wind was pretty strong and unfortunately they cancelled the New Year’s fireworks – which was a real shame. We still headed down to the waterfront for the New Year countdown though which was a nice way to see in 2013.
The following morning we decided to take a trip on the famous cable car, which we really enjoyed. It took us up to a viewpoint with great views over the city and we took a nice walk back down to the city centre through the Botanical gardens. The cable car was pretty cheaply priced at a $6 return. In the afternoon we headed to the amazing Te Papa museum – which is free! Situated just across from our apartment, it wasn’t far to go and we were right in the midst of (in our opinion) New Zealand’s best museum. The content and layout of the museum is brilliant. It was pretty busy as it was New Year’s day, but we were able to explore some levels of the museum and take in all of the amazing exhibits. The variety of things in the museum, along with the innovative and interesting design made it a fantastic afternoon. I enjoyed the section about New Zealand’s native wildlife, as well as the 20th century displays. My husband enjoyed learning about the treaty.
That evening we had booked to see The Hobbit (for a second time!) at the world-famous Embassy Theatre – where they held the world premiere of The Hobbit. It was great to be in the same building, and it was also a stunning cinema – so beautiful and quaint inside and watching the film there was incredibly comfortable and really special. Something we won’t forget in quite some time!
The following day we had planned to take a walk up Mount Victoria but the weather was pretty crazy and the wind so strong that we decided to spend more time at Te Papa museum. We spent more time exploring (when it was less busy) and covered as much of the museum as possible. I enjoyed seeing the LOTR trolls in the entrance area, along with a huge real gingerbread house – it was great! Other areas we explored were about Maori history and culture, and 19th century history. We also enjoyed looked at some of the art up on the higher levels. Definitely a must if you are visiting Welly! And an incredible bargain as it is free!
That evening the wind got up to incredibly gale force strength so we relaxed in our room. We watched things blowing around in the streets and people really unable to walk because it was so strong. We heard that some flights heading into Welly were cancelled or delayed. The following morning the wind had luckily subsided as we were flying out, and our taxi driver taking us to the airport said he had lived in Welly for a long time and it was the craziest and strongest wind he had ever witnessed there! We headed to the airport then for our flight back up to Auckland.
Overall we did really enjoy our time in Wellington – especially seeing it so soon after the premiere of The Hobbit and feeling some of that special atmosphere. It has a pretty waterfront and a nice smaller city feel than Auckland. I do think though that a lot of hype can also make it difficult when you finally arrive somewhere – as we perhaps (being honest) may have been expecting a little more from Welly. I think strangely we saw it at its crazy busiest (New Year’s Eve), were disappointed by the lack of fireworks, yet also saw it pretty quiet (as locals commented) as lots of people head out of the city for New Year. So perhaps we didn’t see it at its complete best, but a great time we had nevertheless. Now on to the next part of our ‘unexpected journey’ . . . ! :)