Foggy and windy Wellington

After spending 2 great weeks in the South Island I took the ferry from Picton to Wellington. Many tourists find the South Island more beautiful because of the many fjords, mountains and forests. The North Island offers more volcanic landscapes and the 2 biggest cities of the country, Auckland and Wellington.

Wellington is the capital and second largest city of the country. The city with its beautiful harbour is surrounded by hills and a rugged coastline. The compact city of Wellington offers a blend of culture, heritage, good food and vibrant arts and entertainment. It is also home to the main filming and production centres for films like Lord of The Rings which attracts many film tourists.

During the ferry ride, you should not forget to snatch a window seat, as the journey takes you through the magnificent Marlborough Sound. The trip takes about 3,5 hours. On Saturday morning I reached Windy Welly, the nickname of the capital Wellington, through which a steady wind hisses and blows some people's toupees off their heads. It is the world's windiest city by average wind speed! The weather is considerably worse than on the north tip of the South Island. Not only is it wet and colder but also fog and clouds characterize the weather here.

Museum with larger-than-life soldier sculptures

Although Wellington is the capital, it doesn't seem like such a capital at all. Only 210.000 people live in the small hilly city. Due to the hilly situation the city has problems to get bigger. My hostel, The Marion Hostel, was excellent. Super clean and with everything you need.

I went straight to Te Papa, the New Zealand National Museum which offers free entry for most parts. The museum focuses on the cultural treasures and achievements, especially the Maori, that the country has produced. The showpiece of the museum is the Gallipolli part where larger-than-life soldier sculptures depict the horror of the Gallipolli Battle. In this World War I battle, the Australian and New Zealand armies suffered heavy casualties in their own ranks as they attempted to storm the mountain ranges of Turkey.

a strange sculpture that wets pedestrians with water

In the centre I walked on Cuba Street, which is for a part exclusively for pedestrians and one of the main night out areas with bars and restaurants. The most weird sculpture in the center, was the colorful bucket fountain. It consists of a series of "buckets" that fill with water until they tip over and spill their load into the buckets and the basin below. Much of the water does not reach the buckets below, but instead splashes on pedestrians and onlookers. On windy days, the water is carried several metres away from the well.

The hipster capital of the country

That Wellington is a very alternative, hipstery city I noticed relatively early, not only by the people that came across me with 2nd hand clothes, bearded-faces and quirky hairstyles. The central zebra crossing here is not black and white but rather in rainbow colors to support the LGBT movement. Rainbow flags can also be found at other places in the city. For example at the port of the city, where many families were teaching their children how to fish.

New Zealand's Parlmanet convenes in a huge beehive

Then I walked to Old St. Pauls, a church from the 1860s in neo-Gothic style and made entirely of wood. Afterwards I saw a huge beehive, but in it no bees gather, but rather the New Zealand Parliament convenes here since 1918. The flag stood at half-mast, because the day before a terrorist bomber had caused a bloodbath in a mosque in Christchurch and executed several people.

Another landmark of the city is the red Cable Car, which leads from the business district to the Kelburn district, which is about 120 metres higher. The vehicle has been in operation for over 100 years and takes about 5 minutes to complete the route. At the top, you immediately enter the city's botanical garden. The garden comprises 25 hectares of protected jungle, conifers, plant collections and seasonal exhibitions.

Looking through the New Zealand cities I was surprised to see that most of the houses are built of wood. A New Zealander explained to me that this type of house is more stable than brick houses.

Many viewpoints around the city

There are many ways to get a good view of Wellington, as there are many hills near the city. I walked to Mount Victoria, which is about 200 meters high. On top of the mountain the Belgian-New Zealand couple Laurence & James picked me up. The woman had written me via Instagram before when she had read my scathing verdict about Bali there. The 2 kindly invited me to a small cozy coffee off the city near the sea. Afterwards we drove to another viewpoint next to big wind turbines, which is not so well known by tourists. We made a short walk and heard strange sounds of a bird, which we could not see.

Great craft beer scene

Wellington is also known for its superb craft beer scene. The city experienced a surge in the production and popularity of locally-made craft beer since the mid-90s. The two took me to the Garage Project Bar, a small brewery that was started from a garage. We tried 4 craft beers where I liked the blackest, the Ara Noir the best.

Nightlife full of super wasted teenagers

In the evening I met a Brazilian couple in my hostel, with whom I continued drinking beer and ate some pizza. Afterwards we had planned to go to a bar, but the Wellington party scene seemed pretty repulsive. We ran into young, drunk New Zealand teenagers everywhere. They were so wasted that they literally bumped into you and proudly filmed how their mate at the roadside vomited. We tried to find a bar where as few of these youngsters swarmed in as possible.

We agreed on a bar that was neither too crowded with old men nor too full with drunk youngsters. My two friends were immediately let in by the security guard, but for me he wanted to see some ID. He did not accept my German identity card. And so I was actually refused entry as a 30-year-old. It was just fine with me, because the next morning I had to take the bus to Taupo early and I didn't want to spend more money or time in this disgusting night out atmosphere.

April 5, 2020, 11:50 a.m.