Wellington, NZ

We are finally on summer holidays! No more school for a whole 6 weeks, yippee! Friday the 13th was the last day for both of us, consisting of a champagne breakfast and good-byes to leaving staff members, plus lunch in Port Melbourne for Andy. Pretty good end to the year!

We drove to the airport after finishing school Friday afternoon, stupidly not taking into account all the traffic we would get on the way there. We ended up getting to the check in desk 15 minutes later than check-in was meant to have closed, convinced we wouldn’t be able to get on our flight. (On a side note, I would normally check-in online. We weren't able to though, as we had booked two one-way flights instead of a return flight, so we had to prove when we got to the airport that we had flights out of New Zealand.) But we got lucky, check-in was still open and we made our flight, major crises averted! Despite all the travelling I have done, I have never once missed a flight (touch wood), and it was pretty stressful to think we might have missed this one. Majorly relieved we got on to our evening flight  on Air New Zealand without any further mishaps. Highlight was the in-flight safety video featuring characters from Lord of the Rings. Nicely done Air New Zealand, that was the first time I’ve actually paid full attention to the safety video at the start of a flight! The flight was 3.5 hours long, with a time difference of 2 hours between Melbourne and Wellington. This means we are now 21 hours ahead of my brother in California… almost a full day… which is kind of weird to think about!
Wellington Harbour

We stayed in a Quality Hotel on Cuba Street which was pretty good value for a mid-range, 4 star hotel. The rest of the trip was with Russ and Lauren who have been travelling for about 6 months, so we are stayed in more budget accommodation after this. So we thought we’d try and stay somewhere nicer for the first few days of the trip! I’d stay here again, the location is good, rooms are spacious, clean, the bed was comfy, pool, hot tub and fitness room.

Our day in Wellington started with a walk down Cuba St and a light breakfast at Midnight Espresso, a Lonely Planet recommendation. We were a bit disappointed though, the menu was a bit plain, however the coffee was excellent. We then walked down to the docks which was beautiful, turquoise blue waters surrounded by lush green mountains, exactly as you’d expect New Zealand to look! We went to the Museum of Wellington City and Sea museum which was a history of Wellington, and is rated one of the top 50 museums in the world by The Times newspaper. It was pretty good if you like that sort of thing, some particularly interesting info on crime in the early part of the 20th century (lots of it focused on racism towards Asians) and shipwrecks in Cook Strait.
Waiting for the cable car

Next we wandered over to the cable car that takes you up to the Botanical Gardens, where you get a pretty good view of the city. No need to buy a return cable car ticket, as you can walk back down to the city through the Botanical Gardens. Pretty cool how the gardens are on a hill. We ended up by the docks again and stopped for a  glass of wine and a snack overlooking the boatyard. We were pretty lucky with the weather, although it was windy it was about 21 degrees and sunny all day. Andy then realised that the Wellington soccer team were playing Brisbane, so he went off to watch the game while I did a bit of shopping!

Andy watching the Wellington Phoenix Football Club

We had one of the best dinners I’ve ever had at a place called Duke Carvell's just around the corner from our hotel. The menu is made for sharing, with lots of big and small plates to choose from. The gnocchi with Gorgonzola and sage sauce was the best gnocchi I have ever tasted, and the flaming ouzo cheese was also fantastic. Service was so good that even Andy wanted to leave a tip, and that is saying a lot! We had a salted caramel chocolate pie for dessert that was well worth the calories, and went home happy and full. Eating out in new places is one of my favourite things about being on holiday, and this place was a definite winner!

The next day we woke up early to go on a run before Russ and Lauren came to pick us up, driving about 350km north to Tongariro National Park for the next part of our trip.


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