This past weekend was glorious. Now, I didn’t travel to yet another gorgeous natural wonder of New Zealand (though I have so many left to see!) but I did get to experience the capitol city of this incredible country – Wellington!
Now before I traveled to New Zealand, I read somewhere that Wellington was like a cross between Austin, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana. HELLO! TWO OF MY FAVORITE CITIES!! And what an interesting, sexy, entertaining cross that would be, right? But when I read that I also kind of thought to myself, Hmmmmm. My skepticism got the better of me. Curse my skepticism. Curse it to hell! Wellington is indeed interesting, sexy, entertaining, and many more things that I can’t think of right now. Beautiful. Dreamy. Small town. Big city. How is that possible? I don’t know, man. That’s just how it felt to me. I was only there from Saturday at noon until Sunday at 3, but the city is so open, outgoing, quirky, etc. that even in that short amount of time I felt like I got a real glimpse into the heart and soul of the city. And let me tell you, it captivated me. It pulled me in. I fell hard and fast in love with it. While it seems to do an injustice to the city to call it a cross between Austin and New Orleans, it definitely has some of the best qualities of each city. It has the hills and views of Austin, with the waterfront beauty that New Orleans boasts (though Wellington’s waterfront beauty is much more spectacular). It has the closeness to nature that Austin offers, except even more natural beauties, and more diverse. It has the fun, exciting, wacky, diverse nightlife that both Austin and New Orleans possess in their own ways. It is both urban and rural, like Austin. It is quirky, unique, and surprising like New Orleans. It is the kind of city that makes you really proud to be there, experiencing the culture, like New Orleans (though more so in Nola). It has a bounty of diverse ethnic cuisine to experience.
High points of wellington:
– Botanical gardens! Obviously botanical gardens are beautiful everywhere. But the cool thing about the gardens in Wellington is that you have to take a cable car up to the top of a hill. And then you can walk down through the different regions of the gardens (its enormous) and end up back in town after like, two hours or more of exploring! And from the top of the gardens you get this gorgeous view of the city and the harbor and it is breathtaking. Although the great thing about Wellington is it is so hilly you can get these spectacular views from a ton of places around the city!
View from Botanical Gardens
Succulents in Botanical Gardens
********I am picking this back up two weeks after my trip – I know, I’m the worst blogger ever. I can’t sit still here long enough to write a blog post, much less do any of the school work I am supposed to be doing….whoops. But anyway, I am committed to finishing the post now (of course, while I should be writing an essay for my Planning/Environment class :D)
– Cuba Street! It’s this adorable street-but-only-for-pedestrians with lots of sweetas artwork in the middle and lined with coffee shops, bars, restaurants, shops, etc. I just love streets that are only for pedestrians. Makes me feel like I’m in a small town!
– Restaurants – like I mentioned earlier, no shortage of amazing places to eat. And I was only there 24 hours. I cannot imagine how much money I would spend exploring the city one restaurant at a time
– Wellington Harbor/Port? Ohmygosh it is beautiful. As you walk toward the water you walk along this raised pier, overlooking the water, the city, some mountains in the distance and Te Papa museum. It is so beautiful. Now the thought has crossed my mind that many people who live in say, Maine or Connecticut would not be as impressed with these views, because they see quaint little harbors and stuff all the time. But I bet they don’t have mountains in the distance! (Not actually sure). Needless to say, coming from Houston and going to school in New Orleans, I have a very clean palette, ready for all sorts of scenery and landscapes to amaze me.
– Petone Winter Festival! They should rename this to ‘Petone food festival in the winter on a beach’. Just a ten minute bus ride from wellington (around to the other side of the harbor to a little teeny town) is Petone, where they hold a yearly winter festival. This festival is chock full of food tents with everything you can imagine. Mediterranean, dumplings, chimney cakes (nommmmm), barbecue, pizza, ice cream, more stuff, more stuff, and more stuff. SO MUCH FOOD. SO DELICIOUS. And these tents are full of legitimate food that you wouldn’t normally expect at a festival. This is obviously what caught and held my attention during my time at the festival. Though if you get there earlier in the day, there is a polar plunge. Where anyone crazy enough can dress up and jump into the ocean! Woohoo! (I can’t exactly call these people crazy because I went into the ocean during winter as well, in Tauranga). There is also a stage set up where music is being played. If you stay long enough into the evening, there are giant wooden sculptures (of drum sets, etc) that will be set on fire! Bonfire out of sculptures! Yay! And fireworks! Double yay! Unfortunately, I was too excited about Wellington to stay much longer than it took me to eat my delicious food and gaze longingly into the harbor. It was still a lot of fun.
– Night life! A combination of Sixth street and Bourbon street, except subtract the weirdos and hobos and nudity and trash and all the negative things you think of when I mention those two night lives. Courtenay (pronounced courtney) street is lined with all kinds of really cool bars and clubs. One called “The Library” that literally looks like you’ve come into this really intimate used book store/coffee shop with books everywhere – except its a bar! And another place (don’t remember the name) that plays music from the ’90s! And another place with an Alice in Wonderland room! Bars that are not places to get shitfaced and grind on people – but genuinely enjoy yourself and have a great time! WOOOO. (Yes, I know these types of places exist elsewhere…….though not in Palmerston North. But in the states. They have cool places, I get it. Wellington isn’t the only place in the world. But, it is New Zealand, which makes everything like, a million times cooler)
And the most beautiful thing of all, that made me sure, without a doubt, Wellington is the place for me – the view the next morning. I stayed at my friend Scott’s house, a dude from the states who I met on my orientation trip. First, let me explain, all the students in Wellington live in houses. On hills. Can you tell I LOVE hills? They don’t stay in dorms. Anyway, so Scott lives in this house that, I could tell when we took a taxi up there at night would have a beautiful view. But I didn’t know until the next morning, when I woke up from an uncomfortable slumber on the couch, how breathtaking this view was.
And although this post has been full of hastily thought out sentences and I’m sure some incomplete thoughts, I must go. Because I have an essay to write. But I cannot go one more day without you catching a glimpse of this beautiful city.
More soon. And by soon I mean, as soon as possible. For mid-winter break is just around the corner (2 DAYS) and I will be traveling a bit. Since I’m here, I may as well outline my plans.
– Saturday heading back to this glorious city (Welly) for an All Blacks game against Australia. This will be awesome for two major reasons. 1. The All Blacks are probably the world’s best rugby team 🙂 and I will get to see them do a haka!!!!! and 2. Australia and New Zealand have a hilarious rivalry (New Zealanders think Australia sucks) and what better game to go to for my first rugby game than between two of the biggest rivals in rugby history!?
– Sunday I will take a ferry across Cook Strait – the space between the north and south islands – to Picton, where I will spend an afternoon exploring the teeny waterfront town and stay the night in a hostel. Monday I will take a bus to Blenheim, where I will spend a week WWOOFing – working on a sustainable organic farm in return for food and accommodation! Then I will head back to Picton and WWOOF there as well! On a farm situated on an island that I can only get to on tuesdays or fridays when the mail boat makes its trip to the island 🙂