Birthday Weekend in Wellington

June 11, 2013

Man, Wellington is a cool city! It may just be all the craft beer and my empty wallet talking, but Welly is a neat place. It’s got the nickname Windy Welly, and I know it’s a well deserved reputation, but we got lucky. Minimal wind. Lots of sun. Some clouds. A few light drops of rain on Saturday, but for the middle of winter- it was fantastic.

Day One: View of the harbour from the wharf
The Waterworld-esque “City to Sea Bridge”. I know, you’re squinting trying to figure out what the heck is going on here.
Locale of Lunch #1
I see no reason not to put a floating fern orb above Parliament, either.
A bit of old Welly architecture

We spent Friday afternoon just cruising around doing two of my favorite things: shopping and eating (actually, reverse that order). Not pictured above is the massive brownie I devoured. After a bit of this, we actually went back to our hotel for a wee nap. I worked 6 days straight last week, remember? Wahhhh. So I needed a nap.

We stayed at a spot called the Gourmet Stay. I can’t say enough positive things about this place. The rooms are attractive and affordable. It’s situated above a really nice little cafe, and if you organize your day so that you return in the evening, but not too late, you’ll be one of the lucky ones to snap up a leftover scone or treat.

The rooms: simple, clean and bright. Exactly as pictured on their website.
Never mind the photographer… this photo is supposed to be of the cool copper paneling in the stairwell…

On the second night we had the problem of people partying in the hotel room next to ours. I was surprised by the party people in question- why choose a small boutique hotel to get totally wasted and loud in? I mean, the good folks down at the El Cheapo NZ Motel (so just made that up) certainly aren’t gonna shut ya down. Anyways, we were totally those people and complained to management, who responded quickly and efficiently. Not only that, they were so gracious and apologetic the next day- as if it was their fault. They upgraded our room for free, to the top floor suite with the über cool hot tub.

Note: My review of the Gourmet Stay is completely unsolicited and these are my genuine feelings regarding this place. I am not being paid or otherwise reimbursed for my plug. Psh, I wish! So you should totally stay there. Also, check out my Trip Advisor review of this hotel, and others, here: Bike Wife’s Review of Gourmet Stay..

Moving on… we spent Friday night sampling the local breweries and cocktail lounges, much to dismay of my bank account. Indulging in a little libation is just expensive in New Zealand. There’s no way around it. Even the cheap stuff is pretty pricey, but life is too short to drink crappy beer. Or wine. Or tequila. Etc.

Inside Scott’s new favorite bar: Hashigo Zake
Hashigo Zake: promise to the people

On Saturday we spent the morning at the Te Papa museum. It’s a massive, free museum open to the public all year round. It’s got everything from native plant/animal exhibits, to NZ culture and history. There’s even a sheep cam. Basically a Go Pro was strapped to a sheep, and the more interesting things were recorded and displayed for your viewing entertainment. One of the two of us was entertained…

There was also a 5 year old decaying giant squid from Antarctica. That’s cool, right?

In all seriousness, it was quite cool. And totally gross.
Te Papa Museum

Saturday night we got all fancied up to go see The Great Gatsby in this cool little theatre called The Light House on Cuba. Unfortunately we spent a bit too much time gussying up (and sipping champagne…) and didn’t leave ourselves much time for a nice dinner. So we grabbed pizza and beers at a funky little place near the theatre called the Rogue and Vagabond Craft Beer Bar. Was ok.

The Light House theatre was cool though- we ordered drinks and sipped them until we were called for the movie. Then we went to our (assigned) seats, which were love seats, and settled in like it was our own living room. Example: I took off my murderous high heels for the entire flick. Classy, huh? The Great Gatsby was pretty good- fabulous party scenes and lots of high drama. Pretty much everything the book was, with a bit of Leo on top.

The Havana Bar… which is where we wanted to go for dinner
But it was crazy busy, so next time. Isn’t it cute??
The Rogue and Vagabond, where we did go for dinner. …. eh.
The theatre sure looked cooler in person!

Sunday we cruised around town a bit more before heading back to the Te Papa to check out one or two exhibits we’d been too tired to see on Saturday. (A few hours at any museum at one time is pretty maxed out for my attention span). We may have learned more on Saturday, but we took more photos on Sunday, so that’s something. Before going to the museum we found the closest thing yet to a taco truck! It was a real Mexican guy making food at the farmers’ market. Of course we got burritos there… but unfortunately they just weren’t like the ones we are missing. Oh well, the hunt continues…

My “real” Mexican food being prepared by a real Mexican… I mean, look at his hat!
Tired museum goers. Wellington city in the background. We really don’t know what was happening with Scott’s hair.
Is this museum approved behavior??
Being more civil on the bridge.
Sunday night we checked out the Circa Theatre, and their improv show. We saw improv recently in Christchurch, and actually thought it was pretty damn funny, so we figured we would see how Wellington stacked up. Sadly, not as good as Chch. But watching live comedy is always a good time.

On Monday we checked out Wellington’s botanical gardens. This may sound like the itinerary of an 80-year old, but I enjoy… no, love looking at flowers and ducks and such, and since it was my birthday trip, it was a must-do. Plus, I’m another year closer to 80 now, so it’s not that weird.

To make it more interesting to the rest of the world, a cable car is available to tram lazy weary walkers up the hill. It’s pretty cute, and offers beautiful views. And it’s cheap (well, NZ cheap) at $4 for a ride up!

Scenic, no?
The patience of a saint…
This guy is a tui… aka the R2D2 bird I wrote about when we first got here. Definitely one of my top 3 favorites.
Historic old house in the ferns… so cute!
Beautiful native forest
Did you really think I’d go a whole blog post without a duck picture? I’m sparing you with just this one.

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