Saturday, 30 April 2016

NZ: Welly (Take 2) to Napier

Our ferry trip was uneventful though we did spot a pod of dolphins in the distance, and we headed off to our accommodation via a trip to the supermarket.  Anja had a family friend connection who’d offered to put us up for 2 nights, which was very kind of them, especially as Anja had never met either of them!  We turned up to dinner being cooked for us which was an added, unexpected bonus.  Our room even had its own bathroom – bliss!

We spent the following day doing a self-guided ‘highlights’ tour of Wellington – we walked into town through the Botanic Gardens down to the harbour, spent 2 hours in the Te Papa museum (where this time I actually stayed and absorbed information from the Gallipoli exhibition – which is really very good, though did leave me with a huge sense of sadness.  It’s easy to forget that whilst your country is having its own wars, other countries are suffering similar losses.  And also crazy to think that NZ, even though it’s the other side of the world, had to help with the world wars just because of it being a commonwealth country).

This is why Welly reminds me of Bristol

the incredible models in the Te Papa Gallipoli exhibit, think I talked about them in my previous Welly post

Afterwards we picked our mood up with food – we had a supermarket picnic by the sea, then a stroll through town to Cuba Street, which is probably the trendiest street in Welly.  After that we headed to the Beehive, where we managed to squeeze onto the last parliamentary tour of the day.  This was much more interesting than I imagined it would be and I am glad they fit us on the tour – we got to see the parliamentary chamber and where the PM sat.    Personally I think the building leaves a lot to be desired, designed by Sir Basil Spence in 1964, I think it looks a bit like a huge wedding cake….I didn't even take a photo because it's so ugly.

Cuba St

Welly dusk on our walk home

We finished our ‘highlights’ tour with a trip back to the Botanic Gardens via the Cable Car, then back home where Anja cooked schnitzel for dinner as a thank you to our guests (I chopped stuff and kept our hosts entertained by talking non stop).  We had a really lovely evening with lots of interesting conversations about social media, travel, Europe and the EU.  I felt quite intelligent by the end of the evening. And a bit buzzy with wine.

After abusing the wifi to write blog posts, we bid our farewells and  travelled North to Masterton, via ‘Rivendell’ – just off the state highway is a forest where they filmed a lot of the Rivendell LOTR set.  We took a quick walk around the area, discovered I was definitely taller than a dwarf, and headed back on the road.  

See? Definitely taller than a dwarf. Nearly wizard height in face. 

Gorgeous Autumnal colours

Justine had recommended a place to stay - she had been cycling in the middle of nowhere when she came across a farmer moving cattle, they got speaking and he offered her a place to stay.  She’d written him a postcard which we were to deliver and hope they would also offer us a place to kip…cheeky!

Unfortunately there was no room at the inn, and the farmer was out, but their son, Hunter, offered to show us round the farm and we fed the pet pig, sheep and ducks, asked some questions about sheep farms, and headed on our merry way.  Hunter is moving to London soon so if any of you come across him, be super nice to him as he’s lovely!

We ended up at a brilliant little campsite in Eketahuna, run by an old couple where you get your camp spot, unlimited hot showers, free cold washing machine and a fab little kitchen all for the princely sum of 7$, bloody bargain.  The old lady even apologised for charging us, bless her.   We made the most delicious risotto (straight from a packet, add hot water!) and chilled out for the rest of the evening.

The next day we drove 5k south to Pukaka Mount Bruce bird sanctuary.  We had been debating whether to go to the Zealandia sanctuary in Welly, and had decided against it, but this was mentioned in the Lonely Planet book as being THE place to go to, so we coughed up 20 bucks each and headed inside.  It was 20 bucks well spent – we learned loads and were fed some pretty scary facts, such as so far in NZ the list of known species that are now extinct includes one bat, 51 birds, 3 frogs, 3 lizards, 1 fish, 4 plant species and an unknown number of invertebrates.   We are the cause – early settlers bringing in pests such as rats and possums who eat eggs and fauna that the native mammals ate, chopping down bushland and forests for settlements and mining, and of course hunting.  One bird was hunted to extinction just because people in the UK thought it fashionable to wear a brooch made of the birds beak….Urgh humans….

The Tuatara. It's prehistoric!



a baby kiwi!!!!

The bird song in the sanctuary was pretty incredible, especially seeing as the sanctuary is completely open bar 9 aviaries hosting some protected birds.   One of the highlights was seeing a baby Kiwi chick being fed – it was pretty adorable.  They also have 2 adult Brown Kiwi (though confusingly one of the Brown Kiwi is actually white as it has a rare recessive gene and is the only white kiwi in existence in captivity).  Kiwis are weird – called the ‘most un-bird-like bird’ because they have whiskers, nostrils at the end of their beak, hair like feather and 2 ovaries. Weird little things – I say little but they’re actually really quite big, the size of a basket ball!

Our next stop was Cape Kidnappers, via the longest place name in the world. We are SUCH tourists. This was an hour out of our way just for a photo opportunity, and the Maori name for this hill is Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu.  Locals just call it Taumata Hill…

and for scale...

At Cape Kidnappers we considered doing the walk to the gannet colony which I had heard from a friend was well worth doing, but the tides were at funny times and meant we would have been walking back in the dark, so instead we drove to Napier.

Napier IS AMAZING. My favourite city, just nudging Oamaru out of the top spot. An earthquake razed it to the ground in the 1930s, so when they rebuilt the city they decided on an Art Deco theme.  It’s pretty awesome, all the architecture is art deco, even down to the street lights and road names.  I felt like I was in the 1940s.  There are some vintage shops so we tried on some hats – I’d love to go back there one day and attend a vintage ball or something in full fancy dress.  We spent the morning wandering around and in the afternoon started an estuary walk, but we quickly got bored as it was dull compared to the rest of the walks we have done, and instead lazed on the beach for an hour, trying to spot Orca and reading books. 

Napier port

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