We took four days off work towards the end of March to celebrate our 3rd anniversary in style. We chose Wellington to do this - and we were not disappointed! Having pre-booked our accommodation and flights from Picton we set off early on the Sunday morning. Bags packed, these got flung in the boot and into the car we got, only to discover we had a flat battery. With a bit of quick thinking we borrowed Amanda's car keys and jump started our car off her battery, and then we were on the road again! Singing at the tops of our voices to the likes of Greenday & The Offspring all the way to Picton airstrip we were well in the mood for a holiday.
We checked in and shortly boarded a tiny eight seater plane. Practically sitting on the captains lap we were given the low down on where to find the life jackets if the plane crashed over the cook strait, and then handed ear muffs only to be told the plane could be quite noisy. No kidding! The 25 minute flight from South to North Island was quite spectacular and because the plane was so small we had to fly below the clouds all the way which meant almost making contact with the tops of hills occassionaly. The plane was not the only thing jumping around in the air, I kept a sick bag on my lap just in case! Just before coming in to land there was an almighty gust of wind that took the plane quite high up again and the captain had to practically chuck the plane on the runway or miss it altogether! What a ride!!
We bused into the city centre and headed straight for the hotel, dumped bags and headed back out again. We were searching for a market! After asking a few local Wellingtonians we sought out an indoor market which I can only describe as "The most rubbish market in the world!!!!" It was full of complete tat, worse than can be found at a Portsmouth car boot sale. So a bit fed up and thirsty we headed out to try the local tipple. Turned out that Heineken is the most popular beer in the city, but on a very, very hot day with no wind (how about that!!) it was very refreshing.
Next stop was up the little red cable car from Lambton Quay up to the botanic gardens. A quick photo & video shoot done we then headed back to the hotel to freshen up and then out to find a Chinese restaurant. That is one of the things I have missed the most living out in the middle of nowhere, is the complete non existance of Chinese take aways. Good for the waistline though!
Next day, as planned, we headed for the famous Te Papa museum, and apart from an hours lunch break we spent the entire day there! Firstly we went on a "ride" that took us back to the beginning of the world when gondwanaland existed and explained how the land mass had broken up to form the continents we know today and how New Zealand started out with wierd and wonderful bird and animal life. It took you through experiences of a volcano blasting, a giant eagle making dinner of a moa bird and then showed what it may be like in the future.
We then headed up a level to see the Ancient Egyptian display. It was supposed to have been awesome, but we were very disappointed, so didn't spend much time there. There were also displays on both extinct and non-extinct plants & animals, a bit about European settlers to NZ, Maori cultural traditions, Waitangi Treaty, sculptures and art works etc etc. It was a really cool day, but with the size of the place and all the walking we were knackered by the end, so headed out for a drink and found a cool tapas bar for dinner, then to bed.
The next day we hopped on a bus and went to the Wellington Zoo. It was really good fun, but there were loads of rehousing projects going on, so we didn't see all the animals we could have seen. We opted to walk back to the city and save the bus fare. There were loads of great shops we passed on the way back and I bought myself a jumper made out of blanket material that is soooo incredibly warm!! We spent the rest of the lazing about on the sea front and enjoying the sunshine. We found a neat little restaurant for dinner, and treated ourselves to a bottle of Cloudy Bay Pelorus (Sparkling wine) which we enjoyed with our meals.
Unfotunately we had to head back home again on the Wednesday, but what an awesome time we had! We met my uncle Ian at the airport just to say hi which was good, and promises to go back and spend a bit more time when our seasons ends were made. Then it was back on the plane - this time a 12 seater cessna caravan, but probably more bumpy that the eight seater! It was a fun flight though.
Once back at the airstrip we started the car without any hitches, and drove the 15 minutes back to Picton at which point the car decided to die in the middle of the road. Great! So Pete walked round to a mate's place and he helped us get the car to a local garage where we left it and took a water taxi back to the Portage.
Our car is now fine again after a bit of tlc and a full service and is ready to hit the South Island!