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Walking in Windy, Wobbling Wellington

This week, it’s like we’ve entered a whole new world. Monday we stuffed most of our stuff into Zed and left him parked in the driveway in Picton, as our fantastic hosts offered to take care of him while we are away.   We walked on the ferry with two small bags and floated through the sounds and across the strait to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to be aboard the ferry.

View of Marlborough sounds from ferry

View of Marlborough sounds from ferry

Perched on the top deck of the ferry we enjoyed sunshine and clear skies throughout the journey. After arriving we wedged ourselves and our bags onto the overcrowded bus for the 5 minute ride to the bus station downtown, and walked into the concrete and steel maze with the help of the so far reliable smartphone to find our destination. We’re somewhat familiar with the city, having spent several days here in February. So we knew we’d get along just fine without a car. Along the way we made a quick dinner stop at the Pita Pit. It’s like Subway but they make pita’s and they’re yummy. From there we only had to walk a few more blocks and turn down Cuba street, where there is a collection of eclectic restaurants and shops, an iconic street in the midst of the city like 16th Street in Denver or Pearl Street in Boulder. Just around the corner from a quaint café on Cuba we found the magical silver doors that led us to the apartment where we’d be spending the week.

Entrance to our apartment in Wellington

Entrance to our apartment in Wellington

The experience of staying in a high-rise city apartment is a novelty for us which added some excitement to the experience. Neither of us can envision long-term city living, but we enjoyed the taste of it for this week. It was the next morning while reviewing the evacuation procedure before I realized this information would be necessary not just in case of fire–but an Earthquake too. Um, gulp, that hadn’t yet crossed my mind and I felt a sense of fright wiggle in my belly. Even though we’ve heard a lot about them and know the recommendations to follow if we found ourselves in the midst of a shaking house, we still don’t want to experience it, especially on the 8th floor in the city. I wondered if “what to do in case of an earthquake” advice was different in a high-rise, so I did a little web browsing to get educated.

Sunset from Wellington apartment

Sunset from Wellington apartment

The first few days the wind teamed up with clouds and drizzle, during which days our walks were shorter. When the sun came out so did the people. We walked among the joggers, bikers, business men and women, and tourists around the harbor until we came across a trail up Mt Victoria. We’d walked up this hill a number of times on our previous trip to take in the stunning views of Wellington so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

View of Wellington harbor from Mt. Victoria

View of Wellington harbor from Mt. Victoria

Up and back down and all the while enjoying sunshine.   The next day we sat in the living area, Paul at his computer and me directly across from him on the couch when he says, “Do you feel that?” I sure did, it was an unmistakable sway of the building, back and forth for a few seconds. Wide-eyed we stared at each other, hoping it wouldn’t worsen or continue for long. To my relief it didn’t. I’m not sure what surprised me more, experiencing the quake after just searching for info about it or the quake itself. The remainder of the week we didn’t feel the building move but we watched the white caps, flags and trees whip and swirl in the wind.

Standing in Wellington harbor watching an incoming ferry.

Standing in Wellington harbor watching an incoming ferry.

With two more days to stay in the high-rise apartment, we caught the bus to the airport to meet the first couple from the US here to visit. Once Bob and LeeAnn joined us, we were out for more walking, sightseeing and eating. Wellington offers the most choices I’ve ever seen for dining, it was difficult to choose. After showing our friends around the harbor and a bit of history in the city we opted for seafood in the seaside city, and it was fabulous. With full bellies we discovered the Saturday night market on Cuba street on our way back to our place, offering yet another concentrated collection of culinary experiences, but none of us had room for more food. We really enjoyed the stroll through the vendors with music, lights and aromas bringing the street to life after dark. With wet weather hitting the city again on the second day with our friends we decided to have a look around the incredible Te Papa museum. Even with several hours to spend, we could not see all the museum had to offer. Te Papa remains one of my favorite places to visit in Wellington.

"Beehive" in Wellington

“Beehive” in Wellington

The wind cleared the skies in the afternoon so we slipped into the city for a peek at a historical site before enjoying dinner on Cuba Street. The following morning marked the start of our 2 week driving tour taking us to Tekapo, Rotorua, Napier, Martinbourough, Wellington, Kaikoura, Taupo, Dunedin, TeAnau and Queenstown. I’m going to be busy with my camera.

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