Windy Wellington. A hair-raising landing at the airport, with two weeks leaning into the wind, was our expectation while we house-sat in Whitby. However, our flight was smooth as we glided onto the tarmac at Wellington Airport, setting the tone for the rest of our visit.
Our first day was warm, with a light breeze – middle-of-summer weather. We took a walk over the hill from Whitby to Pauatahanui. Famous for its Lighthouse Theatre and its coffee at Groundup Café, where we enjoyed lunch. Of significance is St Alban’s Anglican Church, built in 1898 and the Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve, run by the Royal Forest and Bird Society, which sits at the eastern end of Pauatahanui Inlet.
Previously, when staying in Wellington inner-city hotels, we have found the city a breeze to walk around (if you’ll pardon the pun) and easily accessed the Cable Car, Botanical Gardens, and shopping in the CBD. Our last visit to Wellington was in our caravan. That time we stayed at Wellington Kiwi Holiday Park and found we were in Wellington in next to no time on the motorway.
A must for people who like walking, is to download the Welly Walks app on your smartphone, or for technophobes, visit the iSite. My favourite was the Food Walk – no surprises there. No need to feel any guilt with the exercise of walking between stops.
Te Papa Museum to see ‘Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition’, was at the top of our list. The highlight, of course, is Sir Richard Taylor’s larger than life-sized models, telling their story, looking at war from a personal perspective. The attention to detail, like damaged finger cuticles, and a small tear in the eye, is worthy of a visit in its own right. Including memorabilia, large murals, 3D maps depicting the battle’s advance (and retreat) day-by-day, there is something of interest for most people.
A visit to Wellington wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Parliament. There are two free tours, the highlights (House, committee rooms and the basement), and a more extensive tour also includes a visit to Bellamy’s. In the House, it’s easy to feel the power, standing on the plush carpet at the intersection of the walk to the Ayes and Noes lobbies.
After our tour of Parliament, we went to the Reserve Bank Museum. The main attraction is the Moniac. The original was created by Kiwi, Dr William (Bill) Phillips. Using Kiwi ingenuity, he created it with parts from obsolete Lancaster bombers, in his landlady’s garage in 1948. The Moniac is a hydro-mechanical computer, (using the flow of water). It gives a visual look at how the money flows in the economy, simply and clearly showing the impact of the variables.
The Reserve Bank Museum holds tours Monday to Friday, but on the first Wednesday of the month, an economist descends from the heights of the Reserve Bank above, to put the Moniac through its paces with actual problems to solve. The visit is free, but there is a donation box to help maintain the museum. Children are given old money to take home (there is a catch).
The day of our visit to Wellington Zoo was drizzly. As we purchased our tickets, we were assured it wouldn’t diminish what we would see, and there were less people to compete with viewing the inhabitants.
The little red pandas stole our hearts and we spent quite a bit of time at their enclosure. To our surprise, the keeper came in with people to have a close encounter with the panda. If you’re interested in close encounters, you will need to book this well in advance.
A visit to the Weta Workshops in Miramar, is another must-do. We purchased our tickets online, and would recommend doing this a few days beforehand as we saw a number of disappointed people turned away. Allow time to visit the Weta Cave, with its mini museum. A film is shown every 30 minutes giving a glimpse into the work done here. The museum and film are free.
If you are a foodie, Moore Wilsons is well worth a visit. This is the place the hospitality industry sources its needs, but it is also open to the public. In the variety department, is whatever you could possibly need in the kitchen and service industry, from candles and crockery, to small electrical appliances. In the fresh food department, mouth-watering pastries, a large selection of breads and the freshest fish (on the first visit we bought gurnard and the second, snapper). The fruit and veggies are good quality, although a little more expensive than the supermarket. The meat cuts are geared to restaurant standard. The cheese selection is huge and I had trouble deciding.
Wherever we are, I Google the farmers markets. We went to the Sunday market beside Te Papa. There is entertainment, fresh produce, food stalls and food vans for a ready lunch. Chowing down on a Greek souvlaki while watching the boats coming and going on the harbour on a sunny Wellington day – just magic.
We had one windy, wet day in our two weeks in Wellington and found the weather is usually pretty good here. Maybe it’s not so windy in Wellington after all?