Our direct flight left Perth at 7pm and arrived in Auckland just before 6am Kiwi-time. The girls didn't get more than a couple hours' sleep inflight (I didn't get any at all), so the night was quite short. We flew on to Wellington and arrived before 10am, completely exhausted. Our hotel room was not available until 2pm, made extra trying by the fact that Wellington was experiencing the first wintry storm of the year. The winds were so strong that the captain had to land our flight with engines screaming at full throttle (a little hair-raising though blessedly safe landing). The rain was icy. First up for us: buying appropriate clothing! Life in Perth has not prepared us for that first day in Wellington, and Markus hadn't even packed himself a fleece pullover. Thankfully, New Zealand is well-stocked in outdoorsy gear, and we were set to go again before long. Well, three of us were. Stephanie refused to don anything other than her slightly outgrown fleece jacket, and not even the prospect of a new puffer jacket to match Ellie's could entice her (thank God for long johns and those vests I knitted them last year!). Afterwards, we treated the girls to some seriously beautiful cupcakes and then checked into our hotel to lounge and doze until dinnertime.
Thankfully, the weather was much more kind the next day. Wellington reminded me a lot of New England. The harbor was lovely, and there were beautiful wood houses covering the hills.
check out the cool floating fern sculpture near the library and government offices
We walked from our hotel to the Te Papa Museum, a huge, new and excellently planned museum on the Wellington waterfront. There were four children's discovery areas, so you can guess where we spent our time. We often retreated to these spaces during our time in Wellington, as we were not used to the cold and Te Papa provided a great (free!) space for us to play and be warm.
Admission to Te Papa is free, much to our surprise. Markus suspects that this is to entice all walks of the population to visit. All of the exhibits were in English and Maori (the indigenous people of New Zealand), and there were extensive Maori cultural exhibits. In general, we found New Zealand very inclusive of its indigenous people, quite unlike what we have seen in Australia with the Aborigines. The server at our (nice) restaurant the first night was Maori. We frequently noticed Maori people in various roles, seemingly integrated into society. I didn't talk to any local white people about this, so I'm not sure if our perception is correct for the country, but we were glad to see it. As we wandered through Te Papa on the first day, we were lucky enough to come across a Maori youth group singing in a Maori house built especially for the museum. They were wearing street clothes and were being corrected often by three Maori men in charge (out of sight on my little video), so we guessed they were rehearsing for a concert elsewhere. Lucky us!
Before we left Wellington, we took the cable car up to the botanical gardens and observatories. Curiosity took us into the observatories first, where we enjoyed a very cool movie projected onto the dome ceiling. However, sitting in the dark for so long wore the girls out and the weather turned grey again, so we went back down the cable car without any garden walks. I bet it is beautiful there with amazing views on a nice day.
Normally, my travel logs include extensive drooling about foodie goodness we discovered along the way. I realize, however, this is enough to make the average person roll his/her eyes in amusement or irritation or both. I won't go there this time. Suffice it to say that if you find yourself hungry in Wellington, Prego has the most authentic pizza margherita we've ever enjoyed outside of Italy, and we ate at Floriditas three times and bought their cookbook. Just in case you wondered.
The girls did really well, though all that city walking in the cold did wear them out from time to time. All told, we were in Wellington for three days (though that first day was moot due to exhaustion). Next up: Nelson!