That was how the site manager greeted us when we booked into the Wellington Motorhome Park, just after getting off the ferry from Picton. And you can see what he means. The park is situated on the waterfront, right in the middle of the City. It's a bit like camping on the Quayside in Newcastle. It's little more than a glorified car park equipped with electricity hook-ups and a shower block. But it's very convenient. 5 minutes and we can be standing on Wellington's main shopping street or outside the New Zealand Parliament.
Still it's a slightly surreal experience sitting in the van eating our breakfast as commuters walk and cycle by on their way to work. They don't bat an eyelid - not even when another happy camper walks across the car park wearing only a towel and flip-flops. Obviously all part of daily life in New Zealand's capital city.
We'd been led to expect great things here. Several people had enthused about what a wonderful city this is. There is an international arts festival on at the moment - "just like Edinburgh" someone said.
Unfortunately it doesn't strike us like that. For a start there's the weather. When we arrived it was nice and sunny but shortly after it clouded over and became windier and remained like that for the rest of our stay. All the Wellingtons we spoke to seemed to take some delight in telling us that this is normal weather for here. It's not known as 'Windy Wellington' for nothing. And of the festival there was little sign. Certainly nothing out on the streets. A trip to the suburb of Lower Hutt to visit a street market advertised as including arts and crafts and food stalls and live entertainment was a damp squib. It was little more than something put on by the local community centre. Even the 'Water Wheeler', a kinetic sculpture designed by artist Len Lye and not erected until 25 years after his death, failed to perform at the advertised time of 10pm. And like the rest of New Zealand by the time it gets dark the streets are pretty much clear of people. Even many of the restaurants (more per capita even than New York apparently) and bars close by 9.
So we are a little underwhelmed by Wellington. Still it has some good things. The national museum, Te Papa, is well laid out and includes some fascinating exhibits. None more so than the 4.5 metre long giant squid - the only specimen in the world. You can even buy a soft toy - though quite who is going to want a cuddly giant squid is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps that's why there's $10 off.
A tour of the New Zealand Parliament, led by a Yorkshireman from Sheffield who used to do the same job at Westminster, was illuminating and thought provoking. (Basically the colonials seem to be doing a pretty good job of copying our parliamentary system. In fact they may be doing a bit better than us. For example there are 21 Maori MPs - matching the proportion in the population, and 39 women which at just under a third is a lot better than we're doing). But the highlight is a night visit to the wildlife sanctuary, Zealandia.
Zealandia is an attempt to recreate native New Zealand bush and wildlife in urban Wellington. Several hundred hectares have been fenced off to keep out introduced predators (stoats do the most damage apparently) and native plants and animals have been re-introduced. These include tuataras - a distinct class of reptiles known only from New Zealand, native frogs - quite unlike frogs elsewhere and several species of bird including, of course, the emblematic kiwi. As flightless, ground living birds kiwis are not well designed to deal with mammalian predators and, apart from a few predator free islands, are at severe risk of extinction. They possess several unique features, and are the sole survivors of an ancient order of birds including the now extinct moas. Brown and about the size of a chicken they look and sound a bit like hedgehogs as they snuffle around in the leaves looking for food. We saw two Lesser Spotted Kiwis (I have to confess that the photo is not one I took) and it was strangely humbling to see something which most New Zealanders won't have.
So inner city living has its upsides. And maybe our problem with Wellington is that after the South Island it is just too crowded and busy. Although by comparison with British cities it is still very quiet. Even at 5.30 on a weekday afternoon there is little traffic on the streets. So its back out into the sticks for us!