Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Off to the North Island…First Stop Wellington

So after a quick 2hr bus ride up to Picton we walked into town for a quick lunch and found a NZD 12 deal of Grilled John Dorey with vegetable cous cous and a cucumber mint yoghurt sauce! Random trivia question…why the name “John Dorey” for that type of fish!?

A tasty lunch...

So we hop on the ferry and find a sweet seat out back (no access at all to the front of the ship :( ) so we can enjoy the scenery as we leave the South Island and head to Wellington

Cook Strait Ferry to Wellington

Cook Strait Ferry to Wellington

Cook Strait Ferry to Wellington

Cook Strait Ferry to Wellington

We arrived in Wellington a bit before 6pm and walked about 20 minutes (through the rain, which is not helping Swiss kick this cough, mind you) to our place just south of City Centre and across the street from Victoria University, Worldwide Backpackers. That night we finished off some leftovers and enjoyed a little wine and loads of conversation with new friends over health care policy and politics!

Red Rocks and Victoria Cable Car

On Friday night we met Julia and Michael, from Germany and the UK, respectively (part of our health care policy discussion!), and Michael had a rental car he needed to return on Sunday, so we decided to join him for a half day trip Saturday morning. It was off to Te Kopahou Reserve (home of the Red Rocks and loads of Seals) for a nice hike. It was about an hour hike each way out to the seals and back and really cool because you can get really close to the seals (so close they growled at us) and it was only a 15 minute drive from downtown Wellington.

Michael, Swiss and Julia made it to the top!

Julia, Michael and Jason at the start of our hike

He makes it to the top

Rawwrrrr...the start of the seal pics

Lazy seals

Great shot of Red Rocks

Quick side story on Rental Cars (again)

After grabbing a quick bite to eat we wanted to make a brief detour to the Library to do some research on rental cars and possibly upload some pictures to Flickr…BUT our certainly reliable plans to use library wifi were thwarted by the LACK (read: complete lack) of wifi at the Wellington Public Library! Gasp, what a horror! So, we used a terminal to do some quick car rental research, and in just 25 minutes we found that Ace Car Rental would give us a car for NZD 14/day if we’d drive it from Wellington to Auckland (of course we keep it for 3 days so we can take a leisurely drive North), it was ace! (Use of British slang and gentle pun intended) Considering that the bus from Wellington to Rotorua would have been NZD50/person, plus another bus up to Auckland, this is a fantastic deal! (Even if we have to buy some petrol along the way, still WAY cheaper than public transit) and we have the flexibility to go wherever (this will involve driving on the left side of the road, but we’ll talk about that later, good luck to everyone New Zealand once we take to the road!)

Advice to future travelers, cheap cars can be had if you’ll drive one way from Queenstown to Christchurch, Christchurch to Auckland (make sure they pay your ferry crossing though) or Wellington to Auckland, something to research!!

OK, back to the Wellington Cable Car

So we finished our library work and met back up with Julia and Michael to ride the Wellington Cable Car up to the top (NZD3, now that’s ace!) and take the leisurely stroll down through the Wellington Botanic Gardens. I highly recommend taking the cable car up then walking down (all paved paths) to enjoy the full experience.

Wellington Cable Car...I approve

The Wellington Cable Car in action

Swiss hanging off of my "geotropism" experiment

A view as we come done the hill through the Wellington Botanic Gardens

A river (or in this case stream) runs through it

Now given our recent financial savings we were inspired to cook a nicer meal for dinner. Off to New World for some lamb steaks (later sautéed in butter, rosemary, garlic and red wine) and some cous cous (later combined with some sautéed veggies) and a cucumber mint tzatziki sauce. As a thanks to Michael for driving us out to the Red Rocks that morning we also cooked for him and in exchange he offered to purchase “pudding.” This led to an awkward cultural exchange in the grocery store (now I love me some pudding, but not my first choice of dessert items) where we learned that “pudding” is a British colloquialism that is a general term for dessert, which ended up being muffins (not cupcakes!) and quite a different consistency from pudding, but tasty none the less. I was in bed at a decent hour, Swiss on the other hand was up until 4am chatting with ze Germans.

Monsoon Sunday – A trip to the museum and the cinema

Sunday morning we awoke to a crappy gray sky and light rain. A perfect day to explore the Te Papa national museum (think Smithsonian meets childrens exploratorium!) We checked out a few of the places only to notice a farmers market just outside in the parking lot, time for a quick stroll down for lunch (for Swiss, lamb roti and some red curry on rice, for me a chicken roti wrap, delicious!) Swiss decided it was now time to hit up the Formula 1 special exhibit while I explored more of the museum (I’m not a huge F1 fan, and I didn’t grow up with it like he did.)

Britten bike with unique custom made engine

Formula 1 Exhibit at Te Papa

Formula 1 Exhibit at Te Papa museum

When we left the museum around 3pm it was coming down in sheets and very windy, perfect time for a movie! We went and saw Inglorious Basterds (the new Quentin Tarantino film) and it was pretty good, very Tarantino! Back at home for dinner I was inspired to recreate some Cali-style mexican food (I think I was in withdrawal) so I made up some chicken quesadillas with onions and peppers, it turned out quite nicely considering our ingredient options! It was a fairly early time off to bed since we had to be up early the next morning to grab our…drum roll…rental car! Time to try our hand at driving on the left side (read: wrong side) of the road, but more on that in our next post!


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