Our last two days on the North Island…
I can’t believe it’s been over a month in New Zealand already. Alright we were volunteering for the first three weeks, but it’s time to head to the South Island pretty soon.
Day 145 – Saturday 15th October 2016
When we woke up it was still pouring with rain, and although I initially planned on braving it and cooking porridge out of the back of the van that plan didn’t really go well. Instead we decided to get straight on the road and try to find a cafe, but that plan didn’t really go well ever. It looked as though our day was going to be a bit of a disaster, but then it all changed. We only found a Denny’s by accident didn’t we!
As with Wendy’s I thought I’d never see a Denny’s again after leaving North America, so finding one out here was like Christmas coming early. It’s safe to say that we got a bit carried away with our order as well:
We drove straight into Wellington after breakfast and headed for the Information Center where we asked for tips on what do to and how long to stay. In the end it was the weather that had the most influence on our decision – it was due to be cloudy and rainy all day long but clear and sunny tomorrow. For that reason, we just had to stay for two days instead of one.
Our plan was to spend the rainy day inside museums and the sunny day outside, so arranged a ferry to the South Island for Monday and then cracked on. We’d been tipped to visit the Museum of New Zealand which was only a ten minute walk away, but also advised not to leave a camper van parked publicly. We decided to book ourselves a campsite to stay at for the next couple of evenings where we could leave the van during the day, preferably one with Wi-Fi and hot showers that was easy to get to and from. Not that we’re picky.
It was difficult to find somewhere that was both cheap and convenient but eventually we settled for the Capital Gateway Motor Inn, a hotel with an extended car park where we could sleep for just $18 per person per night. Cheeky, but worth it. There was a bus stop right outside which had a regular service and ran all the way into Wellington too, which was perfect for us. After checking in, parking up and then taking the bus all the way back to the museum we were finally ready to go.
Inside we wandered around a few different exhibitions including the Nga Au Kukume (Awesome Forces), Mai i nga Maunga ki te Moana (Mountains to Sea) and Te Ngahere (Bush City), but it was Gallipoli: The Scale of War which really got us. We stayed in that particular section for ages, learned loads, and were completely taken back by the giant sculptures which occupied every other room:
We didn’t leave until dinner time so thought we’d make the most of our Bartercard again and find somewhere that we could use it to pay for food, which went almost a bit too well. We found a place called Bad Grannies where they had a two for one offer on drinks until 19:00 and a pretty impressive food menu too. I was drinking beer, Abbie was drinking gin and ginger beer with lime (basically a cocktail but without the cocktail price tag), and in the space of two hours I had eight drinks and she had six. We kept our sensible heads on and left by 19:30, not only because we were definitely tipsy by that point, but also because we didn’t know how late the buses run and didn’t want to end up stranded. We also brought a couple of ice lollies for the journey, because drunk Dan and Abbie are basically five year olds.
By the time we’d taken a bus back to the camper van and set the bed up it was straight to sleep for both of us. Without the Bartercard we wouldn’t be able to have evenings like this! Happy days.
Day 146 – Monday 16th October 2016
With the sun shining and no sign of a hangover this morning we were ready to carry on exploring. Our plan was to find the cable car and take it up to the Carter Observatory, but as usual our plan didn’t quite work out. In our quest to find the cable car we got completely lost and managed to accidentally walk all the way up to the top, which was a tiring adventure but saved us $15. It was a lovely and clear day too so the views of Wellington were great:
Instead of taking the cable car back down just for the sake of it we walked again, this time through the bush via the Wellington Botanic Garden:
Being a Sunday almost everywhere was closed so we chose to grab ourselves a few bits from the store and have a picnic at Frank Kitts Park. Our mini feast on chicken, salad, humous and pitta bread was a nice change from the food we’ve been cooking out of the back of the van lately, came very cheap and definitely filled us both up. We walked slowly along Wellington Waterfront as far as Waitangi Park then turned around and wandered along Cuba Street where we brought the most hipster coffee’s I’ve ever seen:
We called it a day after that and got the bus back. Instead of spending the evening in the van like we’ve had to do for the last week or so we secured ourselves a couple of seats in the communal TV room. We made a friends with some of the other campers and cooked dinner in the communal kitchen before settling down to watch TV until it was time for bed.
That’s pretty much it for North Island now, and don’t get me wrong everything has great so far, but I can’t help feeling like everybody needs to calm down with all the hype about New Zealand. Let’s just hope that South Island proves me wrong eh?