Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blast to Wellington

A few months ago, Murphy and I make a weekend escape up to Wellington to coincide with a visit from our friend Amber from the US. Amber is over to race in the Tour of New Zealand, and while we are unable to catch the race, it's worth our while to explore the city for the weekend and at least spend half a day with Amber and her teammate Courteney.

Contained herein is a haphazard record of our various wanderings around this grand capitol city. The visit becomes our standard model of coffee-meal-cocktail-rinse-repeat, which is still a damn fine way to see a city no matter what anyone says.

We've got almost exactly 48 hours to burn, and we've arrived in the evening, so we begin with the harbor and see how the night develops.

People frequently get in trouble for diving off this


There happens to be a pop-up art show along the harbor that weekend, so we have a nice wander into many of the shipping containers that are serving as impromptu display/performance space.

Live art

If you're interested, this woman has started with a perfect circle, some ~1.5m in diameter, and is tracing the inside boundary over and over and over again. The inevitable imperfections become amplified, so she's been left with something that's only generally round. She figures she's got another 8 hours to go from here, at which point she'll go crush walnuts with her right hand or something equally impressive.

Windswept and purple Murphy

And then this bizarre discovery through a peephole:

Um, OK

Harbor view

And of course, there's always time for a pint. First stop is Mac's Brewbar, right along the harbor.


Lampshade factory

Or a rad cocktail. We find a fantastic example (or two?) at Matterhorn, along with equally impressive barmen.

Fancy bar

We're staying at a hostel in the CBD, and it's awesome to be able to walk to so much in such a small space.

Old 'n new

The next day dawns with uncharacteristically good weather, mirroring that of the day before, for which we count our lucky stars about a dozen times over. Wellington has a penchant for being windy, top on the list of weather ailments that may plague it on any given day, so to have two calm days in a row is almost eerie.

So we celebrate with a few coffees, bookending a delicious breakfast at Leuven.

Flight Coffee Hangar, replete with loitering dandy

While I'm generally not the biggest fan of museums, we do spend a couple hours in Te Papa, which is New Zealand's national museum. It's got a bunch of exhibits of NZ history, flora, fauna, and more, but I get distracted by a big room full of light bulbs.



Handheld tilt-shift goodness, #thankyouverymuch

And ceilings.

Te Papa ceiling


Back out into the stunning weather, we continue our perennial search for calories and counteracting doses of caffeine and alcohol.

More harbor

As this day wanes, it's time for Ethel and travel buddy NoƩmie to have their turn with the Stormtrooper.

Stormtrooper up close

And our wander back to the hostel finds us this nightmare-worthy gem. Not sure why, but something about standing toddler mannequins in harsh light just creeps me out.

Creepy much?

On our final day, we're graced once again with stunning weather, and we take another museum lap, this time through the City Gallery. Many very cool photo exhibits, but other distractions prevail.

City Gallery overhead

Patient model

We finally hook up with our bike idols, and in addition to a little bit of a driving tour, we have a brilliantly delicious and out-of-the-way lunch at the Chocolate Fish Cafe, a welcome reprieve after two days in the bustling metropolis (pop. 204,000).

Finally, our time is up. After sharing the back seat of the car with a couple race bikes, we're deposited graciously at the airport to head home. We have to connect back through Christchurch instead of having a direct flight, but this just means more sightseeing over the South Island.

ATR-72 detail

Rakaia River in all its splendor


More ATR

Central Otago

More Central

Too short, as always, but a great escape! As I write this, it's painfully obvious that we've spent too much time exploring outside of NZ instead of on its shores (#firstworldproblems, I know), and we've vowed to rectify this.


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