Monday, 18 February 2013

The windy city of Wellington

Wellington supposedly has 167 days of gale force winds each year. Luckily for us, we have had beautiful sunny weather for our stay - Lucy seems to have taken it as a personal affront that we haven't experienced at least a minor squall since we've been here. But I'm not complaining, and long may the good weather last!

Coming from London - a sprawling metropolis of 8 million people - I love the fact that Wellington is a small city (population 250,000), hemmed in by green hills. These lush, forested, designated Town Belt areas, put the British 'green belt' concept to shame.

First stop on the Wellington tourist trail was the cable car. This is not technically a cable car, but a funicular, with wooden seats that smell of history (if you could smell history...), that grinds its way up from the centre of town to a fantastic view point on one of the surrounding hills. After admiring the view, we wandered leisurely back down through the Botanic Gardens, where you can lose yourself in flowers, trees and cacti - feeling a million miles away from the bustling city.

The trendy, alternative Cuba Street was next, with a compulsory coffee and cake stop at Fidel's (good coffee, better cake). Thinking it was time to move onto something a bit stronger, we went to an Irish bar (yes, I know this is a travesty when in another country, but they had a balcony in the sun) where I had the most appalling G & T I have ever tasted - paint stripper comes to mind... Which will teach me to turn my back on the beautiful wines.

Next day, with poor Lucy back at work, MizHB and I headed to Te Papa - New Zealand's national museum. This unique building, on Wellington's waterfront has fantastic exhibitions on New Zealand history, geography and Maori culture. With due professional interest, MizHB and I spent a good amount of time in the earthquake and volcano section, where I failed miserably at the 'protect your home' quiz - it's a good thing earthquakes don't feature highly on the London Risk Register!

MizHB was desperate to get her toes wet, so we got the bus out to Scorching Bay on the Miramar peninsula for a quick swim and coffee. It was a beautiful walk along the coast down to Seatoun, past small, rocky bays and luxury houses. The land rises steeply behind the coast road, and houses perched on top of the escarpment have souped up Stannah stairlifts to transport people (and shopping!) up the hill.

Seatoun (aka Celebrityville) is a lovely, small coastal village. We popped in to see some friends of my Gran's, who have lived here for years and are well used to bumping into Peter (Jackson - film director and local hero) and whatever other A listers happen to be staying in the local area for filming of the latest Tolkein blockbuster.

Our time in Wellington has come to an end, and we're off to the South Island to continue our New Zealand adventure. The sun is shining and the Marlborough vineyards are beckoning - life is good.

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