After a peaceful stopover in Dannevirke we had an early start as we had some distance to cover if we were to get to Wellington that afternoon. A ferry was booked to cross to the South Island for the next day and people we had met in Russell had offered to let us park up on their drive overnight.
As ever we had no plans, had done no research, had no guide books either. We did have a clever sat nav system that gave a guided commentary as we travelled south on Route 2.
We made a stop in Woodville for no other reason than it looked a good place to look around and take a driving break.
And maybe get some cheesecake.
They would never get away with these in England, yet some are amusing.
We didn’t have time to take a tour of the brewery but did take a look around the museum and buy a couple of t shirts on sale in the gift shop.
And take some silly photos.
Then back on the road and next stop Greytown. I loved this town immediately. I wanted to move in there and then and live there. I know I have said that of almost everywhere we visited in New Zealand, yet this town seemed to offer the life I wanted somehow. I really liked it here and was sorry that we could only stay a short while.
As well as the community supermarket, there were lots of quirky shops to browse.
More New Zealand
The journey so far had been an easy and pleasant drive. Interesting road signs and building. Wide straight roads.
Time for tea and cake with company in Greytown.
And then as we headed toward Wellington for the final stretch the clever sat nav with commentary announced that it was now going to stop talking. We were taking a mountain route that needed our full concentration. This was the first time we had been warned to drive extra carefully. We had been challenged by the drive to Napier, what, it gets scarier than that? This road is gated off in bad weather. It is that scary.
It was some relief as we descended into Wellington via Upper and Lower Hutt. We then navigated our way through our first city since Auckland to meet our friend in Miramar, home of the Weta Studios.
At the time I couldn’t share my photos as these are props from The Hobbit which was being filmed while we were there. As well as visiting the Weta Cave, we went to see the green screen (which is at the back of a supermarket)
and went to the board room and saw the awards including The Oscars and The Crunchies that Weta have won. I regret not taking photos of those. It was an amazing experience and was a highlight of our visit.
At the suggestion of our Weta guide and friend we then went to explore Te Papa Tongarewa and the harbour area.
Te Papa Tongarewa is an excellent museum and we really did not have enough time to do it justice. The earthquake experience was realistic and a stark reminder that this beautiful country has been devastated by earthquakes on many occasions.
Recently named as one of Lonely Planet’s top 500 places to see on the planet the museum is well worth a visit if you are ever in Wellington.
The next day we were sailing to the South Island so this visit to Wellington was all too short. Fortunately we had Tim and Jo-Anne, who we met in Russell, as city guides and we packed a lot in a few hours.
They had told us we could park up on their drive overnight and as we had just met them on a campsite a few days ago I thought this was really generous of them. I had no idea of what lovely kind and generous people they were. They welcomed us into their beautiful home and gave us their guest room for the night. That evening they took us to see a film at The Roxy Cinema after treating us to dinner at Coco at the Roxy. We then drove up to the Mount Victoria Lookout to see the city at night. Unfortunately there was not a moon as big as this big moon that night yet it was still spectacular.
The next morning our guides had more planned for us. We had a few hours before our ferry, and so we went for a ride on the iconic cable car.
We then walked back down through the beautiful Botanic Garden.
We had under 24 hours in The Coolest Little Capital and we packed in a lot. Wellington deserved more of our time.
On the way to the ferry I saw this billboard. I thought the Tui adverts were pretty risque and I doubt this would be allowed in the UK. New Zealanders just seemed so laid back about everything. Which is probably why I loved it so much.
Too soon we had to say goodbye to our friends, and embark on the next part of our New Zealand adventure.