Wellington │ New Zealand
Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand. This south-western tip of the North Island was a two-night stop before we jumped onto a ferry and and made our way over the Cook Strait. Wellington is a really compact city. It consists of a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. The strong winds that move through the Cook Strait give Wellington the nickname “Windy Wellington.” In fact, it is the world’s windiest city, with an average wind speed of over 26 km/h, and the world’s southernmost capital of a sovereign state.
Our last long-ish stop had been in Rotorua. Even though the drive from Rotorua to Wellington was only predicted to take 5-6 hours, we knew that it would take much longer. The driving times in New Zealand were proving to be a lot longer than Apple Maps, and road signs, said they would be. In order to break up our journey, we stopped in Napier for a few hours. We also made a detour to see the incredible Te Mata Peak –> One of my TOP New Zealand moments!
A Great AirBnb Find
Most of our New Zealand accommodations were found on AirBnb. This particular find was really a great one. Different from many, but we loved the personal way that we were welcomed into this home. Many AirBnb’s are more like standard hotel or B&B experiences, but there are a few that really stand out from the rest. This family was renting out two of the bedrooms in their house since their children gone off to university. One of the daughters was home while we were there, and we ended up staying up late and chatting for hours.
It was amazing how “at home” we felt here. They had specific cereals, breads and other foods that we were allowed to help ourselves to in their pantry. Our bedroom was comfy and absolutely spotless. This was more like visiting friends than staying at a B&B. The best part was that we were allowed to sit in the lounge and move freely around the house without feeling like we were intruding. They LOVED Eli, and of course, that makes all the difference. There is nothing worse than trying to keep your child locked in a room, and quiet the whole time you are in a house. There was a dog and a cat, and they played happily with our little man. It was PERFECT!
Upper Hut Neighborhood
This home was situated in Upper Hutt, which is a city in the Wellington Region. It is one of the four cities that constitute the Wellington metropolitan area. This is where having a car makes finding accommodation easier. If we didn’t have transport we never would have considered this place.
The view of the neighborhood from this house was really great. We stood, sipping on our morning coffee, and looking over the surrounding area. The skies were blue and it looked like a perfect day to go exploring. We had stayed up late, chatting and watching move with our host family though, so we didn’t get moving as early as we thought we would have. Off course, staying in a private home, we assumed we would need to exit ASAP. Our hosts had, however, told us that we could enjoy the house all day if we liked. AMAZING!
A Small Pleasure
I enjoyed a little “taste of home” and had some bagels and Vegemite for breakfast. We don’t have this specific brand in South Africa, but we have Marmite. Anyone who loves this stuff will stay that it tastes very different to Marmite. But let me tell you… when you’ve live in Asia for seven years, it sure does taste similar enough to be considered the SAME THING.
On the other hand, if you hate Marmite/ Vegemite (which many people do) you will say that they taste the same! haha
Only a very select group of expats could understand and appreciate this pleasure.
Bagels with butter and Vegemite for breakfast- I was VERY GRATEFUL!
By the time we were all ready to head downtown to start exploring, Eli was ready for a nap. All that activity with the dog and cat had worn him out. He fell asleep, iPad on his lap, before we had even left the Upper Hut area.
The main aim for the day was simply to walk around and explore.
We didn’t have any specific one thing that we HAD TO SEE. This is the best way to explore! Have a rough list, but nothing set in stone. Finding parking proved to be quite a headache, and we eventually had to park in a big indoor parking building. We moved Eli straight from the carseat into his stroller, where he continued to nap.
Our walk along Cuba Street was really interesting – in a number of ways. This street, one of the most prominent streets in Wellington, is quite quirky! It is one of the more bohemian areas of Wellington, and is the home to an eclectic collection of cafes, op-shops, boutique, small fashion stores, art galleries, and music shops.
Named after an early (1840) settler ship to New Zealand, the Cuba, it is to the south of the CBD, but still in the inner city. Cuba Street was once the route of the Wellington trams. Following the removal of the rails, the middle section of the street was closed to traffic in 1969, and is now a pedestrian mall and is one of the busiest areas of pedestrian activity in Wellington. Since 1995, Cuba Street has been a registered Historic Area under the Historic Places Act 1993, with numerous buildings being of historic significance.
Despite the number of older buildings in the street, there was little building damage from the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.
Beer and Burgers
If we spot a good vibe – we will often abandon any plans we have, in order to sit down and enjoy a couple of hours of relaxation. We passed a burger joint that had outdoor tables, in the sun, and good music playing. On the walls of the restaurant were names of beers and pizzas/ burgers. YUP – we knew we had to sit down for a while. With Eli still asleep, we parked him in the shade and sat down to enjoy a delicious meal, washed down with a couple of cold beers.
With a little bit of a buzz (haha) we continued exploring the streets of Wellington. Being such a beautiful day, we knew that we should try to get to the Wellington Cable Car before it closed. This funicular railway rises 120 meters over a length of 612 meters, and leads to great views over the entire city.
Next Stop: The Wellington Cable Car