|Picton to Wellington|
If you ever wanted an example of how familiarity can breed at the very least indifference, then the ferry crossing from the South to North Islands is it.
The seasoned and regular travelers on this route shuffled and hustled to find themselves a spot to nap or watch television, while we, with the space station on wheels safely loaded and secured below, made our way to the deck to watch the ferry leave the Picton dock and move out into a misty morning. As we slowly pushed out into the waters of Marlborough Sound, fog, wispy cloud, and wake settled behind us, our trail preserved like a gigantic snail, albeit temporarily.
|Marlborough Sound - Leaving South Island|
|1st glimpse of Cook Strait|
I’ve paid good money in my time to sightsee far less dramatic land and seascapes, so if this was just a commute for our fellow passengers it makes them the most obliviously lucky people around.
A trundle off the ferry and 20 minutes later we were plugged in at the camper park in the hills just North of the city centre, and a quick taxi ride later we were back in the centre.
|Smooth waters of the harbour|
It hits you immediately - Wellington is a warm, friendly, and welcoming place. You get asked how your day is going when you buy a coffee, you’ll have a half dozen conversations with a half dozen strangers if you enter a half dozen shops. Maybe I’ve lived in the Netherlands for far too long but the novelty of having a stranger strike up a conversation with you on the street when they notice your kid, or camera, or the paper you’re reading is something I love and want more of.
We had walked for maybe 10 minutes along Cuba street when we decided that our next destination was going to have do without us and we were going to stay longer in Wellington. Cuba street and that whole area is filled with hipster, arty and student type cafes , bars and restaurants. You can easily eat whatever the hell takes your fancy, although the selection is somewhat curtailed when all the toddler with you fancies is a bread and butter sandwich.
|Snoozing among the waterfront traffic|
Again we saw how national heritage and culture should be preserved for people in the form of Wellingtons Museums. The Wellington city & sea museum is again a great place, and again it’s completely free. It houses lots of interesting stuff on the city’s emergence, alongside it’s European and Maori settler history. The highlight of the museum though is the exhibition on the Wahine disaster of 1968, when over 50 people died as a ferry sank in a storm, right there in the harbour, with a city watching on helplessly.
|Wellington & harbour from the hills|
|'Solace in the wind' on the waterfront|
It’s hard to put a finger on any one thing that sets Wellington apart from other cities, it’s big but compact, it’s bustling but never rushed, it’s pretty but not vain. It epitomizes what I found about New Zealand in general, people are proud of the place, they enjoy it, they use it, they preserve and promote it, but they are never boastful or arrogant about it. It is always, without fail - homely.
We didn’t want to leave, and truth be told I’d go back tomorrow if circumstances allowed, but with time ticking far too fast, the time came to move on from our camperpark in the Wellington hills and move on to a much shortened stop in Whanganui.
|I love this city...|