Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Visitors

Nicola’s nephew, Andrew, is doing a post-university bout of travelling the world with his girlfriend, Zoe. Having taken in South East Asia and Australia, he’s headed over to New Zealand for a few weeks to do the whole North to South experience. And what is that experience without a few days in Wellington?

They’re travelling around New Zealand with Kiwi Bus, who offer a hop-on hop-off service allowing you to spend as long or as short as you like in any location.  They arrived early evening from an adventure camp in the middle of nowhere, so figured that they’d probably want to stretch their legs a bit and take a wander after several hours on the bus. It was a lovely sunny evening in the middle of the heatwave that New Zealand is experiencing this summer, so we headed up to Cuba Street to visit Grill Meats Beer, a restaurant that does exactly what it says on the tin. After dinner we took them home and sorted out our plans for the coming days.

First order of business was to get down to Scorching Bay for a morning swim and breakfast at Scorch-o-rama. That achieved, we took them on the obligatory Wellington day out, starting at Mount Victoria Lookout, followed by a trip on the cable car and bus up to Zealandia. I drove them to the Cable Car stop on Lambton Quay, then drove up to Zealandia to meet them, arriving by bus from the top of the cable car.

After a tour of Zealandia, spotting the obligatory kaka, saddlebacks, hihi and bellbirds, we returned for some lunch at the cafĂ© and then home. Despite all this activity we still hadn’t worn them out, and they headed over the hill to the beach at Scorching Bay for another swim.

The following morning we did the next step on the Wellington experience – the Weta Workshop tour. Weta Workshop is literally at the bottom of the hill where we live, so everyone who visits us gets to go on it. For those who don’t know, they are the company that produces all the props for films such as LOTR, The Hobbit, and many others – not just Peter Jackson films, but all manner of other films as well. They also made the models for The Scale Of Our War at Te Papa, and do other work. During the tour no photography is allowed as all the props on show are still the property of the various film companies that commissioned them. You are, however, allowed to handle some of them (they have a touchy-feely area for just that) as well as talk to the guide and anyone who’s working there at the time; all the guides are also model makers, artists, or otherwise have real jobs at Weta, not just tour guiding.

On Sunday, Nicola had a chorus engagement that she couldn’t miss, so we took ourselves over the Rimutakas to Martinborough, to indulge in a bit of wine tasting. We visited some vineyards that I’d not been to in a while, including Haythornthwaite and Margrain – both still in the original family’s hands – and then went to Palliser Estate for a final taste and some lunch. The weather wasn’t quite as favourable as we’d hoped, so we didn’t stop at the lookout on either journey, as the view would have been of clouds and not much else. Still, we had a good time, and hopefully they learned a little about wines.

On Monday, Nicola was again at work so we went for a drive and a walk around the South Coast of Miramar peninsula, from Seatoun around Point Dorset to Breaker Bay; then on to Island Bay, where unfortunately the Beach House & Kiosk was closed. After a quick swim there were headed back and awaited Nicola’s return.

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