The southernmost point on the North Island. We made it.
The full title of this post was going to be The Winds of Wellington, by George R. R. Martin. But the great George R. R. Martin didn’t write a book called The Winds of Wellington, and we’re all cheering for him to finish writing The Winds of Winter at this point, so the title is The Winds of Wellington
, by George R. R. Martin.
We rocked into Wellington with the help of some of the greatest transportation technology ever invented (after the bicycle, of course): the train. The Metlink connects Masterton to Wellington and everything in between. In addition to being the southernmost capital city in the world, Wellington is the port city that connects New Zealand’s North Island to its South Island. It also happens to be on the other side of a big hill from Masterton, so the choice to make the trip on a comfortable train was really an easy one to make.
We were soon to discover that Wellington would really live up to its reputation as a windy city. No sooner had we stepped out of the front doorway of the train station then we were nearly blown right off our bikes. We had a hotel booked on Willis Street, which was a few kilometres through the gales and gusts. Our luck would change for the better where we learned that one road gave us an enjoyable tailwind and it took us all the way up to Dixon Street; we cashed in on all that headwind karma we had earned crawling southward along the east coast during the preceding week.
After checking in and storing our bikes, we got cleaned up and decided to hit up the town for some food. Our stop was a restaurant just outside our hotel called Burger Liquor, a funky joint with a moniker of either inexplicit simplicity or possibly questionable innuendo. While the burgers and beers were pretty good, we were just blown away by the vegetarian butter chicken sauced poutine that came out as our starter. It all disappeared quickly from our plates and we called it a night.
The next day we woke up with our eyes on Cuba Street to find a trendy breakfast joint and discovered a restaurant called Plum, named for the frequency with which the fruit appeared on the menu, including on Bronwyn’s pancakes in the form of plum syrup and on my egg meal in the form of a plum chutney – really tasty. After walking around the town we finally agreed that we should stop at Te Papa Museum and take in whatever we could before racing to the Interislander Ferry for our trip to Picton. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to see the whole thing and had taken in a lot of the natural and cultural history when we were visiting the Auckland Museum. The ANZAC exhibit that described the WWI experience on the eastern front in Gallipoli was incredible. Some of the most photorealistic sculptures I’ve ever seen in person were the centrepieces to the extremely-crowded exhibit.
They were about 2.5 times larger than life size, and gave a real-human feel to the mission that cost 2,779 Kiwis their lives during The Great War. It’s hard to do justice to the sculptures with photos; you really need to see them to understand how staggeringly realistic they were. According to the website, the sculptures took around 24,000 hours to create. It makes sense when you see them. From a design perspective, the entire interactive exhibit was one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame we had to rush through it.
We managed to get a quick bite of Indian food back on Cuba Street before rushing back to the hotel to grab our bikes and bags and race to the ferry for our 2:00 PM check-in time. And suddenly it was like we were back home: bikes loaded on the passenger ferry between a city an an island.
We didn’t realize how close to home we would actually feel until we saw the islands that dotted our path on the way to Picton. We were almost certain we had returned home when we saw Picton as we docked at the ferry terminal. Those of you who know us from our time on Bowen Island will recognize Picton as the parallel/bizarro universe equivalent of Horseshoe Bay. It was absolutely uncanny – and absolutely beautiful.
Middle school teacher on hiatus/budding permaculturalist currently cycling the world. Sometimes he acts in plays and film. Mostly he travels and blogs about it. Christian is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com