A quick flight in the morning and I was in Wellington being welcomed into the airport by Gollum...creeeeeepy! I made it to my new hostel Nomads Capital but couldn't check in until 2 so I stashed my bag in the luggage room and headed out to find food...by that point, I had reached epic hangry levels. Luckily right next door to the hostel is Finc: Food Incorporated where I had the Sticky Tamarind Chicken Skewer with Vietnamese salad and chili jam...yum status. Also I took full advantage of the free wifi- its funny how obsessed you become with free wifi when traveling...anything to avoid paying $4 for an hour of internet. Anyways by the time I finished lunch it was officially a shit-tastic weather day so I cancelled my usual plan of wandering aimlessly around a new city and headed straight for Te Papa.
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand. It is a GIGANTIC building right on the harbor. According to the website it has '36,000 square meters of public floor space (the size of three rugby fields)' and there is so much to look at. The museum collection focuses on five areas: Art, History, Pacific, Maori and Natural Environment. Of course I headed to the Maori exhibit first but I also loved the Natural Environment section. There was the same kind of earthquake/volcano section like the one in Auckland (so of course I scared the crap out of myself again) and this cool interactive map that you walked on with info about the different regions of NZ. I especially enjoyed the Bush City exhibit which was like a jungle. It stopped raining long enough for me to check it out (its outside) and so I walked through hundreds of plants, checked out some caves, jumped my way across a mini suspension bridge and hung out by the waterfall.
I reached museum overload mid-afternoon so it was lucky that the rain stopped so I could see the rest of the harbor. They have a ton of art installations to check out.
I managed to wandering along Cuba street quickly before it started pouring again - I was on the hunt for a phone charger (the hostel didn't have an adaptor). I didn't find an adaptor that night but I did see lots of fun shops and cafes along the street. After failing the adaptor search I headed to the bar connected to the hostel where they served $2 dinners (holla! cheap food!) to hostel people. It was super basic pasta with red sauce but it was cheap and it left plenty of money for me to spend on Tim Tam's at the supermarket (someone save me from myself). Afterwards I gave in to the bad weather and went to see Catching Fire which was amazing!! Love it more than the first movie and thought Jena Malone was awesome as Johanna. And yes uber Hunger Games nerd status up in here.
The next morning was full of more rain! There's a lot of activities to do in Wellington- just a few ideas are:
-Te Papa (done)
-Mount Victoria hike
-Historic Wellington cable car
-The Weta Cave
-Cuba Street (done)
-Katherine Mansfield House
-Wellington Botanic Gardens
...and many more
Due to the rain, I ruled out the Mt Victoria hike (even though I really wanted to do it), Zealandia and botanic gardens. I figured I see plenty of cable cars in SF so ruled that one out too. I had big plans for the Australia zoo so that crossed the Wellington zoo off my list. I haven't actually seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies (I went to the first one and fell asleep in the Imax theater- obviously it was a thrilling movie for me) so Weta Cave was out. So that left the Parliament buildings and Katherine Mansfield's house even though I had no clue who she was. Now when I say it was raining- it was really really REALLY raining. Like legit pouring rain status. I had hopes of eating a picnic lunch in the Katherine Mansfield Memorial park but those hopes were quickly dashed when I realized this wasn't just going to be a passing storm. I ate lunch while walking under the conveniently placed solid line of overhangs along Lambton Quey. I refused to buy an umbrella because I stubbornly believed that if I gave into the rain it would just continue to rain the rest of the trip so I suffered through in my water resistant (note: not the same as waterproof) jacket. It was actually raining so hard I didn't want to risk getting my map or phone soaking wet so I actually had no idea that I was at the Parliament house until I got back at the hostel. It was more me speed walking by these buildings going 'those look cool' risking a few photos and speed walking away. The building below is actually the Parliament library- so pretty!
The rain eased up enough for me to check my map and take me through the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Park- it was gorgeous! So bummed it wasn't a nicer day - would have been perfect for a picnic/afternoon of lounging.
Finally made it to the house which was cute looking but then I realized you had to pay to get in, you couldn't take pictures and I was completely soaked through and not in the mood to get my history lesson on. After all that I turned around, gave into the rain, accepted the fact that I could not get any wetter, and took a wandering route back to the hostel.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in the lounge watching Dr. Oz with a bunch of dudes from the hostel (their choice in viewing not mine). The topic of the day? Birth control...he showed a cancerous dissected uterus and it took all my will power not to dry heave however everyone else took this in stride. Gag. Eventually it was time to check into my new room where I met Kate from my tour. We had to wait until 7 to meet the rest of the tour group so we chatted and waited very impatiently for the tour to start. Aisha joined us a few hours later and we waited impatiently a little longer before giving in and showing up early to the dinner. Actually we were so impatient that we were sitting at the reserved table at 6:30, clutching our paperwork and grinning from ear to ear that it was finally actually happening. We met our tour leader (or CEO: chief experience officer) Vicky who led us though what to expect from the tour and our itinerary. I did the G Adventures South Island Encompassed tour which you can find info for here- will post more about my experience with the tour at the end. Afterwards we met the rest of the group quickly (they had been traveling together on the north island so we three were the newbies) then headed up to pack/get sorted out before our early start the next day.
Wellington | Day 6
So early. We were eating breakfast at 6 and on the bus at 6:45 just to find out that the Bluebridge ferry hadn't even left Picton on the South Island yet due to mechanical issues- please note the ferry ride is 3 hours long so that's quite a delay. We ended up heading to a different terminal where we caught the 9:00 Interislander ferry. The wifi wasn't free (like it is on Bluebridge boats) but it was a super nice ferry with tons of Eames furniture- as a furniture nerd I loved it. The only downside? The weather forecast was moderate meaning it was a wee bit windy. For those of us who get sea sick that is not ideal however it was a gorgeous day out (once we left Wellington) so blue skies and sun meant I could spend most of the time outside where you didn't feel quite so sick. You know it could get really bad when there are puke bags placed throughout the ferry.
All smiles that the tour officially started and we were almost on the south island!!!!! Seriously gorgeous ferry ride too- check out those green hills and that amazing blue water!
We picked up our bus (and took a 'we're on the south island' jumping picture) and loaded up for the 3 hour drive to Abel Tasman. Since we were running late due to the ferry mix up, we bought food to make dinner the next night (original plan was to cook that night) and ended up eating at Hot Mama's Cafe in Moteuka. Food was good (I went with the Moroccan Chicken Salad) but service sucked- they could not handle such a big group of people apparently (took FOREVER to get our food, food was cold, no water refills, forgot food, etc). After dinner we headed straight to our hostel in Abel Tasman Old Macdonald's Farm. They had a bunch of small cabins spread around which we stayed in which were nice and then a group kitchen/bathroom building in the middle. It was kind of like camping since there were no outdoor lights so when I made the decision not to turn on my headlamp and use the light of the moon instead to head to the bathroom, I almost decapitating myself on the clothesline strung across our little porch...it was slightly alarming and I may have made a 'uuuhhhhhaaaaahhhhh!!!' sound.