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oct 19, 2000
Sunny in Abel Tasman and fine wine in Nelson ... (more)

oct 17, 2000
Hokitika, Punakaiti, beaches, pancakes, horses, and caves ... (more)

oct 15, 2000
Wanaka and rainy days at Franz Josef Glacier... (more)

oct 14, 2000
Natalie arrives! Te Anau & a night on Milford Sound ... (more)

oct 12, 2000
Invercargill, Athol flat tires, and snow on the long route to Queenstown ... (more)

oct 11, 2000
Multimedia schools, museums, and the streets of Wellington ... (more)

oct 08, 2000
Museums and windy beaches in Palmerston North ... (more)
october 21, 2000
We had an early morning departure from Nelson as we needed to reach Picton in time to catch the 10:30 AM ferry and return our rental car. Unfortunately, nz ocation map I had misjudged the distance, especially the circuitous route the roads take. I also did not plan on getting stuck behind some slow moving trucks, though New Zealand has the most courteous truck drivers since as soon as the can do so safely, they pull out of the way to let cars pass.

So we quickly blew passed Havelock and Blenheim to arrive in Picton at the ferry terminal at 10:10 AM. I was so hurried I narrowly missed side swiping another car as I pulled into the rental car return lot.

photo here But we got on board the InterIslander ferry that would take us for a 3 hour cruise (skip Gilligan's "3 hour's tour" muzak) across the Cook Strait into Wellington. The boat is quite large, handling more than 150 cars and several hundred passengers, and is set up like a well endowed cruise ship with restaurants, bars, movies, casinos, etc. photo here The first hour is spent navigating passed tree studded mountains that form a channel to the sea. There is not too much signs of habitation, a few small farms and boat sheds, but all in all, pretty South Island sparse. Eventually we emerge into the open ocean channel, which is pleasantly calm on this day- I was told that the trip can be pretty rocking and rolling when the winds are high.

today's photos
- all photos   o o o o

o o Wellington
after number 72

The trip than ends with a roll around the hook shaped piece of land that provides a safe harbor for the city of Wellington. After our summer ventures on a Lake Powell houseboat, we are duly impressed with the parking maneuvers of this huge ship.

photo here From the ferry terminal it is a short bus ride to the railway station-- our lodging for the next few days is the "budget" minded Downtown Backpackers -- definitely a change of pace from our top of the line beach front chalets.

photo here But this is a fun experience, and has the atmosphere of a college dormitory. The room is basic- a bed, a door, and a grungy bathroom. But we found that the food served in the cafe is not only great home cooked quality, it is also cheap. And the bar and pool tables are a fun place to relax.

We spend the afternoon walking downtown along the Lambton Quay Shops, checking out what we can do with some advice from the well equipped Information Center. We take in a few hours of art and history at the Te Papa museum and catch a well-acted performance at the Cirque playhouse ("Missionary Position" is a play featuring the interactions of three homeless women)

The next day we are out on the streets again to continue our gift shopping and in search of more local arts. photo here We walked by a "Cafe Arizona" adorned with wooden Indian and cowboy paraphernalia... and kept on walking. We were severely disappointed in the wares of the Wellington Market (garage sale equivalent!) but had fun with the shops and excellent food on Cuba Street.

After lunch (and digestion) we made a short return visit to Te Papa so I could ride the photo here "Virtual Bungy" jump (it was broken the day before). Since I was not too interested in trying the real thing early, we heard this was a fun alternative. I was strapped into a harness, feet locked in cuffs, and 3D goggles on my head provided a virtual view of a real jump. The mechanism inverts you, though slowly, it does seem to provide the floating experience of a jump, with a lot less adrenalin. Anyhow, it was fun, and I looked pretty darn goofy doing it.

From there we headed over to a crafts fair on the wharf. What Natalie and I were interested in was buying each other some matching rings. But again, the stuff we saw was not in the ball park (like any home show, they have the demonstrations of the AMAZING BROOM). On the last level, we found a stall that had some jewelry that appealed to us, but they were lacking the right sizes. Natalie noticed that it was from a shop we intended to visit later, and the woman said the shop had more but would be closing in 32 minutes. She called the store and asked if they could linger another hour, as we had some distance to cover to get there.

photo here The shop was at the top of the Wellington Cable Car, which meant at least a good 40 minute leisurely walk. But we were motivated and put on our fast pace and got to the cable car station in 15 minutes and a car was waiting.

photo here The first thing we looked at appealed to both Natalie and myself- a pair of braided (white gold, red gold, and sliver) rings which were made from the same original metals. Not only did they match (which was an optimal goal), they happened to fit us both perfectly! It was meant to be, so we bought along our first instinct!

With this we had achieved most of what we wanted in Wellington! Good food, nice weather, great scenes, and some unique things and memories to take home. We had to prepare our bags that night for the next day was a long train ride to Auckland...

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