The next major stop for me was Wellington. On the way down from Rotorua I had a couple of stops first, namely Taupo, Tongariro National Park and Palmerston North.
Plans changed on the journey south so I only spent one night in both Taupo and National Park. I did manage to squeeze in a 15,000ft skydive the afternoon I arrived in Taupo which was amazing! We had good weather so you could see for quite a way whilst freefalling at 200km/h towards lake Taupo. I was hoping to do the infamous Tongariro crossing walk whilst in National Park but the weather put a stop to that plan!
A lot of people were asking me why I wanted to get off the bus in Palmerston North, it's not a place many Backpackers go to apparently. After 5 months I was finally going to be getting back into a polo boat and playing in a tournament - wohoo! Over the weekend I was playing for a team called Viking Silver and we had 10 games in 2 days. Obviously as I was playing with them, we went on to win all but one of our games and come away with 1st place in the B Class! T'was nice being back in a boat again and they were a great bunch of guys. We had a great BBQ at Mark's house on the Saturday night.
From Palmy we drove to Wellington and even had a game of bus bowling on the way down. There were 6 coke bottles at the front of the bus (with a bit of water to stop them falling over when turning) and 2 tennis balls. You stood at the back of the bus and threw the balls down the aisle. I thought I was in with a chance of victory with getting 5 bottles but someone came along later in the game and got a strike! Still, made the journey more interesting.
I had a few days in Wellington so managed to see a few of the sights. The first day I went on a wander around the city ending with a tour of the Beehive and the Parliament Buildings. It was quite interesting and it just so happened to be the first day back for parliament after their summer break. The tour ended in time for us to see the PM, John Key give his opening speech for 2011 and then the inevitable banter that follows in the NZ equivalent of PM's Questions. Quite an entertaining hour or so (especially as it was free!).
Other things I got up to in Windy Welly were a look around the humongous Te Papa museum, a run along the waterfront, a impromptu pub crawl with Graham Fairweather and a really nice drive around the city and surrounding suburbs courtesy of Anne & Chris (my Dad's cousin). All in all, Wellington was a really nice city. Plenty of things to do and the place just seemed a bit more chilled out than Auckland.
Soon enough my time in the North Island came to an end and it was time to jump on the InterIslander to cross the Cook Strait!