12 February 2011

Wellington & Napier

View of New Zealand's capital from Mount Victoria lookout
Our North Island stint started when we sailed into windy Wellington.

Our first port of call was the Mount Victoria lookout to get a bird's eye view of New Zealand's capital city (and felt really guilty as we drove past a rugby team running up the steep hill).

In the futuristic Te Papa museum
After spending five weeks driving on the South Island's desolate country roads, my driver took a while adjusting to the sudden boom of city traffic. After ending up in the middle of rush hour, getting lost several times and a little temper tantrum (said driver had not eaten breakfast yet), we gave a sigh of relief after dumping Barney for the day in a multi-storey car park, showering and tucking into some poached eggs on toast... then our day could really begin!

Wellington's famous cable car
Te Papa Museum was first on the hit list; a place we ended up spending hours wandering around as we got a taste of New Zealand's heritage. We particularly enjoyed the exhibition of Brian Brake photo journalism.

Having spent the previous summer in the North Island, Faye was our tour guide extraordinaire. With two recommended eateries from her stay in Wellington, we decided it would be rude not to check them out! Sweet Mother's Kitchen caught our attention, partly because it was full to the brim with people sitting in the afternoon sun, but mostly because of the delicious smell wafting out onto the street - Faye's first tip got the thumbs up. We then tackled Tulsi the following day, enjoying the delicious Indian cuisine as we watched the Cuba Street crowds go by.

Playing mini-golf in Napier
Our first North Island faux pas was on the Wellington cable car. The train was built in 1902 to make better use of the city's hilly landscape and attracts lots of tourists who make their way up to the botanic gardens. I thought it was a circular route, until the carriage started reversing back towards the station - oops! Luckily, the driver was in a good mood and allowed us a second shot!

The colourful Clive Square in Napier
Following our stay in Wellington, we went a little off the well-travelled backpacker route and drove east to the city of Napier. Faye spent most of her summer here, so she was well equipped with some recommendations. The town was booming with people when we arrived and we soon realised why - Sting was in town for the annual Mission Winery concert. Unfortunately, we were a year too late to buy a ticket, however, we did enjoy the lively atmosphere of this idyllic Art Deco city. We stayed in our first ever Top 10 Holiday Park (the Disneyland of camp sites) where we were kitted out with a swimming pool, bar, Sky TV room and a big kitchen.

The disgruntled runner-up
Although we weren't quite brave enough to ask the children for a shot on the holiday park's jumping pillow, we did manage to squeeze in a very competitive game of mini-golf. James likes to insist on giving me a handicap of 12 shots to 'even things up'. I agreed, then made a mental note to try really hard to beat him. You will need to trust me that seeing his face as he counted the half time scores and realised I was only a couple of shots behind him (without the handicap, that is) was priceless! Ice-lollies were on James afterwards! Tee hee!



  1. Te Papa is remarkable isn't it! We once bought a car in Napier, and also visited the Mission winery, basically because I had been involved in the Mission in Old Aberdeen, and liked the connection! It is quite fun following you and reliving our own experiences!

  2. A very funny write-up Pam - thanks for the laugh!

  3. This is what I call a perfect travel blog with shared experiences, pinch of laughter and useful information about the cities. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. sounds like you had a great time and I really enjoyed the cable car when I went

  5. well you had visited one of most popular place in world. After reading your blog i came to know that you full enjoyed your tour. Thanks for sharing expedience. :)


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