Day 18: Hastings to Napier
Distance cycled: 24km
High point: Te Mata peak lookout
Challenge: perusing the shops…
Memorable because: Sightseeing with locals
Treats consumed: fill your own donuts, berry frogurt
In the morning we were spoilt further with breakfast and coffee before heading out sightseeing to Te Mata Peak. We went with Joan and her daughter Pamela. It was a lovely walk along a winding path, overlooking Hawkes Bay and out to Napier through the Redwood trees.
Returning to town we stopped at a fruit store with an array of fruits and veg showcasing the best of Hawkes Bay. We were treated to berry frozen yogurt by our generous hosts before parting ways in Hastings.
We followed our trail along the river and along the coast to Napier on a clear afternoon and after buying a picnic lunch, set up in Clive Square gardens and had an accidental nap in the sun. Following our hosts recommendations, it’d be rude not too, we found Mister D, a cafe/ restaurant for fill your own donuts then perused the shops, agonising over all the clothes our panniers would not hold before setting up camp on the coast once more.
Distance cycled: 1km
High point: bed and shower
Challenge: bleugh weather
Memorable because: interesting art house movie..
Treats consumed: brownie
Leaving the gorgeous east coast weather, the bus headed south west to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. I prised my eyes away from my book occasionally to see rolling hills and sheep on the way down. The Wellington welcome was wet and the accommodation pretty booked up. It took us a little while to find a place to stay, but we emerged to the streets sweeter smelling. Wellington may be smaller than Auckland, but even in the rain seems bustling with personality, Cuba street offering many cuisines and boutique shops. We spent the evening in an art house cinema, watching a strange film which I guess Alice and I will agree to disagree on, although I acknowledge it has a lot of singing for a documentary.
Distance cycled: 0km
High point: sitting in parliament
Challenge: getting lost in the city
Memorable because: we learned why Jandals are called Jandals
Treats consumed: Chocolate caramel slice, brownie
We were bright up and early to explore the city, however Wellington seems to get off to a slower start and we were at the museum before it’s doors opened and had to make use of its cafe and wifi before we could begin. Te Papa is a 6 storey museum filled with everything from Gallipoli to Pacific Islander history, junk shops of the 60’s to Moa birds. We began with underwater life. Amongst the skeletons of Blue Pygmy Whales and elephant fish was a Colossal Squid. Captured in Antarctic waters whilst fishing tooth fish, the huge sea monster was pulled up on a line from the depths, probably more than 1000 metres below. With an eye the size of a football, it was fascinating to see it preserved with its massive tentacles.
In one exhibition we finally found the answer to one of our trip questions, why are flip flops called Jandals? According to Te Papa, they were first brought over from south east Asia and were literally known as Japanese sandals! Every day is a school day!
We played on the waterfront playground and then walked to Oriental bay. Wellingtons curved boardwalk follow the shadow of the harbour, the weather was ever changing and pushed our picnic into a bus shelter for us to enjoy our view and our chocolatey treats.
In the afternoon I went to Parliament. Alice had had enough of the school trip and left me to it. We wondered the halls of Wellington’s half modern, half traditional building with secret tunnels and corridors for politicians to scurry through. New Zealand’s upper house voted themselves out of a job and so when a bill is passed it goes back to the house for three seperate readings. When the bill is on it’s first reading the public can write to parliament – literally ‘Parliament, Wellington’ and put in their two cents. Not just kiwis, anyone, any age! If you request “I would like to speak to the committee,” you can come in and sit in front of the representatives discussing it and tell them how you would like it to be done and have complete freedom of speech under protection of the queen not to be jailed, persecuted or embarrassed, again, not just kiwis but anyone. That’s quite and impressive system!
As our tour came to an end, the house was in session and we were told we could go watch them discussing. In my short torn shorts, not the kind of attire you usually wear to parliament, I went in to watch from the balcony as the opposition questioned the government. It’s quite remarkable to watch. The heckling and attacking, nit picking, slouching and sulking that really unfolds before you. MP’s playing on their phones, coming in and out as they wish, then piping up to attack the government on a policy which affects them until the speaker finally calls for order.
With very little left to do on the blustery day, we headed to the pub for happy hour and several wines (me) and beers (Alice) later, we went for pizza on Cuba street.
Day 21: Wellington to Picton
Distance cycled: 0.5km
High point: Wellington Cable Car
Challenge: not enough time in the day for Wellingtons tempting eateries
Memorable because: Cruising into the sounds with strange fellow travellers
Treats consumed: brownie, waffles
The morning looked more promising for our trip in the Cable Car. The iconic red carriage chugged us up the hill, out of the CBD and into the Botanic gardens for a beautiful display of Wellington’s harbour and beyond. We zig zagged back down through fragrant rose gardens, stopping to play on the swings of course.
Back in the centre we headed for food, too many places had caught our eye so we had to have smoothies (Alice) and coffee (me) followed by wraps and jacket potatoes, and after a short rest in the sun we managed to fit in a trip to the waffle hut before heading across town to catch our ferry.
We got front row seats on the boat as it headed out of the harbour. Waving goodbye to the north island, we crossed the Cook Strait and after a few hours entered Marborough sound. Like a claw, the mountains dart off in different directions and the boat navigates calmly through capillary like waters into Picton harbour nestled in the forest. I spent some of the journey on deck and there was some questionable characters around, namely two men with a litre of Jagermeister and no shoes between them. I was torn between remaining in the sun and the danger they may talk to me when I heard one say “yeah come with me, I need a wingman.” I moved around the corner, clearly not far enough as they managed to strike up conversation and identify that we were both travelling in the same direction. He began naming things he liked to do, surf, jet ski, water ski, beach, drink (a lot), more beach, when luckily Alice appeared as if the mind SOS’s had just began to reach her. We escaped them but did bump into them several times around the boat for the rest of the journey. There was only so many places to hide.