Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tour d' Wellington (and a fair amount of eating)

After a windy and rainy night in our tents at Rowena Backpackers, we set off to do Wellington. And do it we did!

We started by walking back to the waterfront to Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand. On the way we happened upon Trisha's Pies. Even though we had both eaten good breakfasts, we felt it was necessary to sample (okay, a little more than sample) one of the pies. I had apple crumble. It was quite tasty! Leandra had a pie of the savory variety-mince and cheese. We continued walking to Te Papa eating our pies along the way.

When we got to the museum, we discovered it didn't open until 10:00 (it was 9:15) but, the gift shop was open. So, we browsed in there until the museum itself opened. Te Papa is a free museum with substantial corporate sponsorship. It kind of reminded me of the Smithsonian American History/ Museums in DC only New Zealand instead. After we saw most everything there, we stopped in the cafe for ice cream cones and something to drink.

Before we left Rowena's in the morning, we had picked up a brochure for a tour of Wellington called John's Hop On Hop Off Tour. There was one starting at 1:00. After Te Papa, we headed over to the iSite to purchase the tickets for the tour ($39NZ). It was a two hour tour if you didn't get off. If you wanted to get off at one of the stops, you just caught the next van an hour later. We got off at the Cable Car stop. The driver told us we could do the Cable Car and the Botanic Garden in the same stop and just get the van at the bottom of the Botanic Gardens. We missed Zealandia (not a zoo, but sort of a zoo), but that was okay.

We rode the cable car down to the bottom then back up to the top. It made several stops along the way. For the round trip, it cost $6NZ. Back at the top, we did a brief tour of the Cable Car Museum then entered the Botanic Gardens. All we had to do was follow the pink flower path to the bottom where we could pick up the tour van.

The gardens were very nice even though many of the flowers are past their prime (coming into Fall here). Again the cicadas were deafening.

We picked up the van as planned. We went by Old St. Paul's church (no longer used for religious service) and Parliament. The Parliament building is known as the "Bee-Hive" due to it's shape (yep, looks like a bee-hive).

We returned to the iSite and dropped off the 3 other people on the tour. They had finished, but we still had the East Loop to do. It was great because we had the tour guide to ourselves. He was very helpful and informative (more so than the first driver). We went up to the top of Mt. Victoria for a 360 degree view of Wellington and the harbour. As we were going up, the driver pointed out the individual cable cars that people use to get to their houses on the hillside. Apparently, one little cable car will service 3 or 4 houses. At the top, we could see the airport where Leandra has to go tomorrow. Leandra asked the guy which was the best way to get to the airport on the bike. He was very helpful and basically showed us the way.

We continued around Oriental Bay to Weta Cave. Now, for all you Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) fans, you probably know Weta Cave is the production company. Right now they are filming The Hobbit. We got a brief look at the Hobbit Houses set.

From there we pretty much followed the water back to Wellington center and the iSite where we finished our tour. It was definitely worth the $39!

Next we were on a quest to find a bike shirt for Shawn. At our 4th bike shop, we finally found what we were looking for. I also got a jersey (50% off) from Penny Farthing Cycles. I'll wear it for the STP this coming summer.

By then it was 5:00 and we were starving (okay, not REALLY starving, but ready for some food nonetheless). We hit up one of the many Wellington Subways (check another Subway off my list!!!). On the way back to Rowena's, we stopped for dessert at, of all places, a Chinese Restaurant. I had a slice of a caramel cake. It was okay, but not great. Too bad the pie place wasn't still open...

We walked back to Rowena's in the wind and cold rain. Everything is as packed as possible for our early morning departures. I have to be at the ferry at 7:00. Leandra will leave at 7:00 for the airport. Hopefully, it won't be raining...

We feel like we got a good feel for Wellington in our short stay. Here are some photos from the day (hey, that rhymes!).

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