05.09.2009 54 °F
You had me at beer…
We arrived in Wellington on a rainy evening on Wednesday and found a cute hotel above the pub. It’s hard to tell from guidebooks what accommodations are really like, so we’ve gotten into the habit of asking to see the rooms before committing. Once Susie saw the pub, her eyes opened to the possibilities, and I got excited when we walked past the guest laundry facilities. Our room turned out to be a lovely British style pub hotel room located in the Thorndon neighborhood, which has a very Georgetown-DC vibe but more bohemian.
The next morning we woke up to sunshine and went for a run. First we walked up a trail to a ridgeline with great views of Wellington Harbour. We then climbed down for short walk to the Wellington Botanical Garden, which offered a picturesque but challenging uphill run. The garden has multiple entrances, including a city walk, so we ran downhill through an old cemetery right into the business district, down to the wharf and then ran back to Thorndon for a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast, we went back up the garden to take cable car down to the business district and walked around different shops, back to the wharf, and then back to the hotel to meet Ingrid and Marc, friends of Susie’s sister Lauren, for a drink and dinner at Indus restaurant. We learned a lot about New Zealand history from Ingrid and Marc, who are Canadian and South African. BTW - we’ve had two Indian food meals in New Zealand and both were incredible.
Some Wellington observations…
• The women are very fashionable.
• Everyone is tall and has great calves from walking the Wellington hills.
• Café culture – no matter the time of day that we went to a coffee shop, there were always business people around conducting business. When we asked locals about this, we were told that there is a cafe culture here, and the people we saw were not business people but bureaucrats who take every opportunity to get coffee.
How we ended up in the cargo hold…
We woke up to rain on Thursday with plans to take the 3-hour ferry to Picton. The ferry instructions required that we be parked on the dock one hour before the ferry departs. We got there at 1pm and decided to keep the heat and radio on while we waited because it was pouring rain outside and quite cold. Big mistake. At just the moment when the ferry crew was waving cars to into the ferry, the car wouldn’t start! Being veterans viewers of The Amazing Race, we kept our cool and turned on the teamwork. Susie went through the car checks while I waved the car behind us to go around and then ran up to the guy waving cars into the ferry to let him know that we needed a jump. After the other cars were loaded, a ferry staff tried to jump start the car without success, so suggested that we exchange our tickets for the next ferry (6pm – four hours later) and call roadside support. While Susie called roadside support, I went the ticket kiosk to ask for an exchange. The friendly woman tentatively reserved us for the 6pm ferry but wanted us to check in with her again after we heard from roadside support. Within ten minutes of calling roadside support, help arrived. (Does AAA answer a service call this quickly?) The AA guy jump started the battery in less than a minute but told us that we had to drive around for 30 minutes to recharge the battery. As we were leaving the dock area, the ferry staff flagged us down and told us we were going on this ferry and promised jump start the car for us if needed on the other side. They had held the ferry for us! Everyone was incredibly helpful and kind, and even cheered and clapped as we drove into the cargo hold. We love New Zealand. People are really this friendly all the time. The InterIslander will be getting a thank you letter from us!
Wellington Harbor from the Botanical Gardens
View of Wellington homes on hills. New Zealand homes are modest in size.
Wellington Harbour from the dock.
For our mums and sisters...flowers from the Wellington Botanical Gardens
The finance geek in me got excited to see this building
View from ferry going through Tory Channels to the South Island
Susie awake after a brief nap on the ferry
Copper kettle chips, our new addiction (lime & pepper)
Lonely Planet Image