A five minute walk from our overnight campsite took us to Mana railway station and 30 minutes later and a couple of $8 fares we were in Wellington – parking the van in the centre of the city would have been a nightmare so this turned out to be a really good move. If you come from Europe you probably don’t go to New Zealand to admire the country’s historic architecture, but as it happens Wellington has some real nuggets tucked away and has done a pretty good job of conserving them. First stop was the Old Government Buildings which at first sight appear to be constructed of a cream coloured stone but actually turn out to be wood – for some time it was thought to be the world’s largest wooden building, but, wouldn’t you know it, the Japanese have something bigger. (Not a lot of people know that).
A three minute trip by cable car from the heart of the central business district lifts you up a couple of hundred metres to a great viewpoint with views out over the harbour and out to the Cook Strait. It also takes you to the highest point in Wellington’s excellent Botanic Gardens which must rank as one of the most interesting and best presented of all the public spaces we’ve seen in the many cities we’ve visited over the years. An hour spent sauntering down through the gardens and back into the city was time very well spent.
The evening was spent with Jim and Heather Dryburgh, 3/5 of their lovely family and a couple of friends Paul and Tracy. Jim and I worked together in Blandford about ten years back and we last got together during my brief stay in Wellington in 2007. It was good to catch up on the missing years and to make new friends in the process – thanks Heather for a lovely meal and great West Coast hospitality.