Saturday, April 22, 2006

Day 8 - Martinborough to Wellington

A nice early start today, headed up with a hearty breakfast created from some of the nice fresh produce left for us within Croft Cottages kitchen (the preserved apricots were of particular note, especially as we knew they were harvested from the orchard straight outside).

Many of the winery tours had been recommended to us but we decided it would be a much better use of our time if we were to get ourselves to Wellington by mid-morning as we only had a single day to explore New Zealand's capital. So after a quick stop at one of Martinborough's wine shops, and a couple of purchases to be drank a good few months after we got back to England to remind us of our time here, we hit the road.

What a road! The road between Martinborough and Wellington is twisty, turny and narrow, all this at high altitude too. It's a spectacular drive and to reward yourself when you get to the top you can have a lovely breakfast at the cafe pearched right on the peak before heading on down the other side into Welligton.

Wellington is indeed NZ's capital, and has a bustling atmosphere unlike any other place within NZ, however it's actually quite a small place and unlike any capital you'll encounter the world over.

We were staying right in the centre, in the Abel Tasmin Hotel. It was a decent enough place but in need of a little attention, the location was fantastic though and allowed us the chance to explore Wellington to its fullest with the timescale we had.

The view from our room window revealed this charming yet somewhat out of place church.

The city itself has a bit of a European atmosphere and when viewed from the coastal area could be compared to somewhere as lavish as Monaco, with its clustered houses and apartments nestled comfortably on the sharply rising coastal cliff face. It's pretty.

For a city which is a country's capital though it's absolutely tiny.

It was beautiful weather again so taking this opportunity by the horns we decided to pay a brief visit to the internal world of New Zealands national museum!

Te Papa museum houses many of the nations treasures. Spread over 5 floors it's a truly massive place, with plenty to see and do and the really good news is it's all free of charge. Incredible.

Of particular note is the wealth of ancient Maori artefacts that are house here, including a 200 year old full size meeting house featuring some of the most intricate carvings I've ever seen.

We didn't have the time to take it all in fully but the highlight was the canteen. Yes with all this ancient history arounds us we still were more impressed by the food being served here than anything. We ate possibly the best pie we had all holiday here, a Guinness and venison pie to be exact. Good canteen food is unheard of back in England, especially in somewhere like a museum so you can imagine our surprise to find reasonably priced freshly prepared, home-made style food in such a place.

The afternoon featured more strolling, some sights and some scoping of possible places to eat for tonight's meal. A walk along the sea front allowed us to admire the harbour from a bit more of a distance and from a mile or so away the place became much less city like and much more akin to a rickety old shanty town with many homes balanced precariously on the side of the rockface leading up from the shore.

This is particularly surprising when you consider the areas reputation for earthquakes. If you didn't know already New Zealand is built on a massive fault line cutting right up through the centre of both the south and the north islands. Tremors are regular occurances, whilst quakes come by once in a while and leave a tour of devastation in their wake.

A while was spent shopping on this particular afternoon, not that we bought much but we did find a nice, not too ornate Maori jabbing stick which now adorns our sitting room wall.

Shopping over we climbed aboard the cable car which would take us to the top of Mount Wellington. The cable cars operate at 45 degrees, a bit like a funicular train and slowly travel up and down the mount whilst making a few stops along the way.

The view from the top is impressive, and gives a good impression on the size of the place (not too big), and its also nice to watch the cable cars trundling up and down the hill.

If you time it right you can also gain a good view of the Interislander ferry making a crossing between the islands from here.

Something to maybe miss whilst you are at the top is a walk around the botanical gardens as they offer no really great views, sights, or intrigue. This is a shame when you consider they command such an impressive view of the whole of Wellington

Get the cable car down again and leave it well alone.

Night was coming fast and so was another meal time. A quick refresh in the hotel, a revision on places to eat from within the pages of the Rough Guide and we decided to head out to eat in Uncle Chang's. See if you can guess what kind of food they do there.

In all honesty it was probably one of the most expensive meals and also one of the worst meals of the holiday. Compared to a Chinese back home, it was very sub-standard.

Shame. Evey meal can't be a winner, I suppose.


Post a Comment

<< Home