Wellington (LOTR Edition)

From the National Park Village we moved on to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. Mom and I spent a few days here and I really liked the city so I was excited to be back. Janetta headed to Te Papa, the national museum, and I hit the streets to replace some of my clothes that had unfortunately fallen apart. I found the bookstore with the great cafe and spend a wonderful few hours reading some books I got on a buy one get one half off (my first non-essential purchase in 50 days!). Janetta and I met up later that afternoon and explored a bit more of the city that my mom and I hadn’t quite reached .

The next day we maxed out our geek levels with a Lord of the Rings tour around Wellington. It was fantastic, even with the rainy and windy weather.

We started off on Mount Wellington, which gave us cloudy views of the city.

A lower part of the mountain was used as part of the Outer Shire. This is where the hobbits tumbled down the hill, found mushrooms, and then hid under a tree when Frodo freaked out (the tree was brought in and then later removed).

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Our next stop was to Weta Workshops, which handled all the costumes, weaponry and makeup for the films (along with many others). We could only take pictures in the showroom, but it was extremely cool to see how they do what they do.

We had lunch in a lovely little spot out by the water, which was a favourite of the actors when they were filming.

Then we headed back to the city for more film locations. We went to Rivendell, which is the only film location whose name has been officially changed, and who has replicas of some of the scenes (such as this entry gate). Our guide had a replica Sting, so of course we had to pose with it (somehow mine turned out more like King Arthur, but I’m okay with it).

We also went to the field that was used as Isengard’s entry, and staffs were provided so obviously we had to be Saruman and Gandalf.

As I said, a full day of geekery, but totally great. We’re planning another LOTR excursion in Queenstown since this one went so well!

Wellington to Christchurch

We were flying out to Christchurch this afternoon, but still had the morning to explore Wellington some more.  Our original plan was to head to Zealandia, but that morning we instead decided to stay in the city and enjoy our first real warm weather. We started the day with a fantastic breakfast at Cafe Neo.

We headed down the boardwalk, past where we walked yesterday, and ended up at Oriental Bay, the local beach.

I wasn’t properly dressed for the beach, but mom did dip her toes in. When we were tired of sitting in the sun (or more accurately, when we were afraid if we sat any longer we wouldn’t get up), we explored the beach further and actually saw some jellyfish!

img_3447Eventually we made it back to town and explored the city.  We stopped by a bookstore to browse, and found that they had a really lovely cafe, so we spent some time there. All in all, we had a wonderful morning exploring a little more of Wellington.

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And then we were off to Christchurch!

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Our flight to Christchurch was the shortest flight I’ve ever been on – 50 minutes from take off to landing.  We walked through the city after checking in to get dinner, and it’s been really damaged by the earthquake in November.  We’re only here for the one night, but we’ll be back in January, and I’ll have pictures and more to share then.

Tomorrow we’re off on the TranzAlpine train and I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.  It’s supposed to be one of the greatest train journeys in the world, so I really can’t wait.

Wellington

Today was our first full day in one place, so we were excited to be able to do things at our own pace.

We’re both early risers, so we started the day with a walk while the city was still waking up. Sites include the Beehive (parliament buildings), railway station and waterfront.

We caught the first cable car ride at 8:30.  It was a bit cloudy out, but still provided fantastic views of the city.

The botanical garden is right beside the cable car, so we slowly made our way down the mountain through the gardens.

The last stop in the botanical gardens was Lady Norwood’s rose garden, which features over 110 varieties of roses, and a fantastic cafe.

From here we made our way to Te Papa, the national museum, which happens to have free entry. I’m not a huge fan of museums, but I actually quite enjoyed this one – particularly the stuffed and pickled giant squid.

Mom enjoys a good bus tour of a city, so after an hour in the museum (which we timed perfectly to fit in the hour it rained), we headed to the information center to figure out our options.  We ended up with a 2.5 hour Hammonds city and coastline tour, with photo stops throughout, and though I was skeptical at first, it was fantastic.

We started at the Old St. Paul’s Church (over 150 years old). When it was first built, it was just the middle two columns of pews.  They made three additions, adding a new column each time, before they decided it was easier to just build a bigger church around the corner.  Now this location is used for weddings and funerals.

We returned to the rose garden and cable car, but I had already gotten my picture’s worth earlier. Our next stop took us out of the city to my first New Zealand beach, Lyall Bay.  It was much too cold to go in the water, but still lovely to see.

Next stop was Moa Point, which looks onto Wellington’s port.

They always save the best for last.  The final stop of the tour was Mount Victoria, which provides fantastic 360 degree views of Wellington.

With the tour done, all that was left was to get some food and explore the city some more on our own. My friend Marilyn biked across New Zealand last year, and when the only recommendation she had was to go to The Chippery in Wellington for fish and chips, I knew I had to go.

It was delicious! You can choose your own fish, and batter, sides and sauces.  We went with the fish of the day, but I have a feeling you can’t go wrong with any of your choices there.

We are still in Wellington tomorrow morning, so we’ll see what else we get up to here before moving on to Christchurch.