After leaving Tongagriro, we had a quick lunch in Whanganui and then made our way farther south to Wellington.
We stayed in Upper Hutt, a suburb 20 minutes north of the city, in an AirB&B. Our hosts, Ray and Judy, taught us a few Kiwi phrases ("poking the borax"), gave us local view points on key political issues (the new NZ flag, Wellington businesses moving to Auckland, the fabulousness of the new duchess), and gave us tips on where to purchase a chilly bin (aka, a cooler). They also had an amazingly large bathroom that we could take long showers and baths in to rejuvenate ourselves after the crossing.
After washing ourselves and our laundry, we enjoyed two easy days of eating and sight seeing around Wellington. We had killer tacos at Viva Mexico, sizzling Viatnamese food at the Lotus Flower, and a delicate eggplant gnocchi lunch at Nikau Cafe on the waterfront.
After lunch we wondered down to the Te Papa, Wellington's famous interactive museum. They had an incredible exhibit on Gallipoli, the infamous World War I battlefield. The exhibit was designed by Weta Digital, Peter Jackson's studio that is responsible for the special effects behind Lord of the Rings.
The exhibit was so good it made me long for my field trip planning days. The highlight of the exhibit were these larger than life figures depicting scenes from the lives of specific soldiers featured on the exhibit. The rooms with the figures included sound effects, lighting theatrics, and vibrating sets (i.e., the room started to shake as machine gun fire rained overhead). Even as spectators, we were part of the drama.
One of the scenes depicted, and (below) with Dominic included for size comparison.
We spent the rest of our time at the museum wondering around the New Zealand wildlife exhibits, which included a gigantic squid and the skeleton of a pigmy blue whale.
Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves for our enriching afternoon at one of Wellington's trendy microbreweries, Mac's. It was larger than most breweries we've visited in the Bay Area, but had just as much personality. It was a Friday night, the place was comfortably full, and the decor was a flavorful mixture of funky chic, with 1960s inspired lampshade lights and more hanging plants than I could count.
Oh Wellington, if only we had more time! There were cable cars to ride and bird rehabilitation habitats to visit, and a Berkeley vibe that felt like home. We are both looking forward to more time in Welligton when we pass through again on our return to Whangarei.