A long day awaited on our trip from Nelson, including a ferry crossing along the Cook Strait. A few hiccups later, including the bus breaking down and standing out in the cold for half an hour, meant we arrived in Wellington in the early evening. A short uphill trek with our backpacks and we arrived at our accommodation, The Dwellington, which we had been recommended all the way back in Queenstown. The place lived up to expectations with a nice homely feel (and heating in our room!).
On our first day of two, after our free breakfast, we went to explore the town. We started our day with a walk along the waterfront, taking in the sights and gawking at the first high-rise buildings we had seen in a long time.
Wellington is one of those places that clearly doesn’t rely on tourism but is a rather large self-sufficient city. After a few kilometres of walking past very inviting cafés we decided to look for a spot to eat. We were told the place to look was near Cuba Street, the main food and shopping area. We decided a Japanese would be best.
One of the most highly suggested things to do in Wellington is to have freshly roasted coffee. Apparently, Wellington is the 8th best coffee location in the world. So, with that in the back of my mind I thought a trip to the museum (Te Papa) and a coffee to end the day would do nicely!
We looped round Cuba Street and onto Leeds Street, which played host to Hannah’s laneway – beautiful little street that played host to a shop called the Chocolate Factory, so naturally we went in to see what we could find!
With a promise to Hannah that we would return, we left the Chocolate Factory empty-handed and made our way to The Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa. The exhibits were fascinating and this, I think, is where we learnt the most about the history of NZ, including its natural history, the traditions and lifestyle of Moari settlers, the European colonisation, and its war history too. We spent several hours roaming the many exhibits, and only left at 5pm as the museum was about to close.
Time for that coffee! However, cafés in Wellington shut at 5pm. We found this very bizarre, being as cafés back home can stay open to late hours and Wellington being a capital city, however it was later explained to us that the locals would rather go for a beer – which we agreed did make sense. Instead, I kept true to my promise and took Hannah back to the Chocolate Factory, as they make their hot chocolate fresh with bars of 70% cocao chocolate made in-house. It was delicious.
Day 2! Another great day of adventure! To start with we made good use of the hostel’s facilities by playing tennis on their courts for a good 2 hours. It’s been a while since either of us have played tennis so needless to say our John McEnroe impressions were better than our serves but nonetheless we had a lot of fun and some much needed fitness.
After our morning of pretending to be at Wimbledon, we booked our tour to Weta Studios! We were lucky as we almost missed the booking deadline, yet managed to get late afternoon tickets after the bus strike (the world didn’t want to help us out today). After fish and chips (ah, it was so goood) we caught a bus to Weta Studios in the Wellington suburbs. We looked around the shop and then were taken around the workshop by one of the artists who specialises in silicone props.
Everything in the tour was very well explained due to this guy’s extensive hands-on knowledge. There were props of every sort, from guns, faces, hands, and wigs to full size cars, gorillas, and even power ranger masks. Considering a lot of work had been done for Lord of the Rings and District 9 (alien film) a lot of the props were large and intimidating, although what was scariest (or most impressive) was the accuracy and detail.
The tour wasn’t long but we got to play with a load of props including guns from District 9 and swords from The Hobbit. The skill that went into everything blew us away and it won’t be something we’ll forget in a hurry.