21st May 2013 16:37
Wellington. Capital of New Zealand since 1865. Home to the biggest hostel I've ever seen. 320 beds over six floors make it seem more like a hotel!
As I arrived in the city, and began the walk from the coach stop, the rain began to fall. I was on a mission to find an electronics store, for a new charging cable for my iPhone. The connector had bent and all the wires were coming out. Running repairs and replacement items are part and parcel of the backpacker experience (especially when you lose things a lot, like me).
In my dorm, I met Flo (German, short for Florian) and Amanda, from Washington. None of us had any particular plans while we were there, so we spent the following day exploring the city together.
This is a photo from the top of Mount Victoria Lookout, which gave spectacular 360 degree views over the area. Again, I got very lucky with the weather and had clear blue skies giving great visibility.
Amanda had originally intended to spend longer travelling, but her plans changed to a shorter trip. This meant she had a fair bit of extra money to enjoy while she was there, and certainly made the most of it that night. She'd booked a posh, forty seven course meal (OK, I'm slightly exaggerating) which cost a couple of hundred dollars, including the wine that was specifically chosen to accompany each course. Flo and I were very jealous. Tuna pasta this certainly was not.
She enjoyed it immensely. I was shocked and appalled she didn't bring any back to the hostel in a doggy bag for us, but you can't win them all.
During a break in our explorations that day, I briefly met up with Sarah on her lunch hour, a Kiwi who had come to work for my old company back in London for a short while. She's a lawyer, and had recently moved to Wellington for a new job, which apparently was going very well. She was still settling into the city and getting used to it herself. Conveniently, right by her workplace was the entrance to the Wellington Cable Car, which took you up to the top of another hill where the Botanic Gardens are. Meeting up with Flo and Amanda again, we made our way to the top via the steep, noisy cable car. Appreciating the views there for a while, we slowly wandered back down through the gardens, heading back to the city centre at the bottom. At this point we nearly got lost. Again – thank God for Google Maps.
The waterfront, and the top of the Te Papa museum provided further viewing opportunities.
Overall, combined with the weather, Wellington was a very nice place to be. There are plenty of bars and restaurants, and it's apparently the craft beer capital also. Naturally that night we thought it only rude not to visit a craft beer bar to sample this for ourselves. The beer was good. The price wasn't. Good thing a visit to that particular type of bar isn't the norm, or I definitely would have run out of money a lot sooner!
By night, the view from the other side of the harbour is beautiful, as the lights of the city reflect in the water. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, so you'll just have to take my word on that one! Eventually, we got too cold and headed back to the hotel hostel. Someone was watching American Gangster in the TV room. I'd already seen it a couple of nights ago in wellington, but I watched it again anyway. Good film. In my bunk that night, my thoughts turned to my next destination... Mount Doom, with Frodo and Sam.