The first time we were in Wellington we didn’t have a lot of time to properly visit the city as we had to take the ferry to Nelson the next day. The little time we did have in the capital convinced us to stay for a couple of days when we got back. We found a free campground looking over cook’s straight just ten minutes outside of the city and decided we would stay there all four days we were allowed to. We soon discovered that four days isn’t nearly enough to see everything this beautiful city has to offer.
Te Papa, the national museum was first on our must see list. This free museum is by far our favourite museum in New Zealand. There’s a 3D film of a giant squid, a huge whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, a botanical garden, a marae and so on. I mean all of this in the middle of the city and completely free of charge. Did we tell you it’s earthquake proof? A kiwi invention consisting of alternating rubber and metal sheets make sure this architectural beaut doesn’t collapse when the earth shakes. We nearly spent a full day in the museum and would often return the next days for the free wifi to look up other stuff to do in the city. If you’re ever in Wellington it would be a dying shame not to visit Te Papa.
Both being eco-nuts, we had to visit Zealandia, an ecosanctuary complete with Jurassic Park fencing but unlike the dinosaur park it’s not so much for keeping animals in but to keep critters out. Possums, rats, mice and wild cats are unwanted visitors to this place as they’re a menace to the native birdlife. Upon entering the park you get a checklist of the inhabitants and we can say we were able to check most of them off: Takahe, kaka, bellbird, hihi, shags, grey warbler, kereru, karearea, pateke and so on. We spent three months to see most of these birds in the wild and here you can see them in just one afternoon. We both loved the tuatara chillaxing in the sun. We had seen them before at Mt Bruce wildlife centre but it’s completely different seeing them in the wild. The biggest surprise we had was at the end of our stay. We decided we wanted to see the weta cave and walked up a hill. It was there that we saw it. Jan immediately recognised it but couldn’t believe what he was seeing, a saddleback on the mainland? The brochure confirmed it and we got a good picture of it as proof. We were very happy campers when we returned to the city with the quirky cable car.
The last couple of days we spent strolling around the city enjoying the great food and drinks. The air was hot and the city basked in the sun. People migrated to the wharf where the sea breeze would cool them down. Coming from a country like Belgium where almost everything is restricted we were gladly surprised the Wellington council built diving boards and platforms for people to enjoy the cool harbour water. If there would ever be a dive bombing championship the cup would be taken home by the kiwis year after year. Like rugby it must be in their DNA to excet.
The capital reminded us a lot of home. It’s big with a lot of stuff to do but it still has a cosy feel to it. The people seem carefree and they are comfortable enough to express themselves through their appearance without concern for the judging eyes of others. Jan absolutely fell in love with the city claiming if he’d ever move to New Zealand this would be the place he’d want to live. In the end we left Wellington not because we wanted to but because we had to and we both felt sad to leave. Wellington is absolutely positively the greatest city in New Zealand!