It was a pretty grim day when we drove from Napier to Wellington, pretty much rained heavily all day.
We had booked 2 nights at an Airbnb place just outside the city, a really nice private town house where we had a bedroom and bathroom to ourselves on the first floor, and full use of the kitchen and lounge on the top floor (with other guests and the owner).
Imagine our delight when our host turned out to be none other than Howard Warner, yes the Howard Warner, champion of the world. And what a delightful host he turned out to be, sharing stories of his success, how he trained, the places he’d been and the trophies he’d won.
While this was all very nice, we had come to see the city so were unable to spend too much time conversing with him, and anyway, he had a tournament to prepare for that weekend!
The next day was bright sunshine and hardly a cloud in the sky, so as Howards house was on the bay, we decided to take the hour walk into the city. It was a great walk, twisting and turning on the road around the many bays to the city, each turn giving a new vista.
We wandered past some pretty wharfs, where shops had been set up in old containers, you could hire a paddle board or a kayak and go straight onto the water, there aren’t many capital cities you can do that. But we headed for the centre and to parliament where we had a look at the old government building which is made completley of wood, its now a school for lawyers, but you can have a look inside at a small portion of the building.
We then did an excellent tour, and saw how Kiwi democracy worked (an improvement on the UK model). We saw the Beehive where the ruling party keep their offices, the parliament itself, where we saw the earthquake measures, basically they cut all the foundations and put the building on shock absorbers, and the library.
We then grabbed some lunch and sat in the park in front of the parliament, all very civilised.
From there we took a look a couple of churches, but particularly Old St Pauls, a wooden church with wooden interior, all made from native Kiwi trees.
In the afternoon we took the cable car (more a finicular railway) from the centre of town, up to the botanic gardens for great views of the cities and the bay.
We then went to the Te Papa museum, an excellent museum where you can find out about the Mauri’s, New Zealand and tons of other stuff, well worth a look and we could have spent a lot longer there.
In the evening we had a look around Cuba Street and Courtney Place, where all the bright yound things hang out, (a note here about Kiwi’s, they are the most heavily tattoo’d nation on earth, everyone here under the age of 30 male and female has one or dozens).
We finished the evening with a chinese meal, and as we had walked so far we treated ourselves to a bus ride home.
Only a day sadly, but what a great day, a really nice city, a bit of a cross between Adelaide and Melbourne and we loved it. So it’s off to the south island next, now everyone in New Zealand raves about south island, when you say to someone how much you like New Zealand in the north, they go on at lengths about how much better it is in the south island. We will see!
Oh, and genuinely true about Howard (google him), he is a Champion of Scrabble and currently holds many titless, a lovely man, but sadly it doesn’t pay the bills so he has to take strays like us in to keep the baliffs at bay.