Saturday, February 18, 2023

[WELLINGTON] Welly Welly Why So Windy

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, replacing Auckland in 1865 after barely two decades of playing that role. Having visited both cities now, I enjoyed Auckland more. It is bigger and more chaotic, which is exactly what I crave. Wellington is sleepy and windy AF, more or less comparable to other capital cities custom built for such a purpose. Since this has been a mere pitstop to cross out another Nomadmania region on my list, I only allocated one day, and I believe that’s enough considering this windy weather.

The airport can be reached by the AX bus which costs a mere NZD4.50 (~PHP155) but that bus is no longer available in the wee hours of the morning. If arriving at around midnight, a shuttle bus to the CBD, a ride that won’t take you longer than half an hour, shall be waiting for passengers in need of its service. You pay NZD18 (~PHP615) which is more or less just enough. An Uber ride will cost a bit more. I found it convenient, though, since it dropped me off right in front of my hotel’s doorstep. Both of these transfer options to and from the CBD accept contactless credit card payments, so no need to buy a transpo card.

The original itinerary for Wellington included a hike of nearby Mt. Victoria but who are we kidding here. After being exposed to those winds, all I wanted to do was sleep. But we’re already here and we must see something at least. The most popular choice for tourists is the Wellington cable car which debuted in 1902. Yes, it just celebrated its 120 years in operation last year. Surreal, right? Nowadays it has been reduced to a tourist attraction, but locals who live in the hilly suburb of Kelburn there at the top still use the cable car as their main form of transportation.

For you as a tourist, the NZD11 (~PHP 375) return fare should suffice. The cable car has several stops but the entire trip is less than 10 minutes in duration. As mentioned, the suburb up there is mostly residential. What tourists go there for is mostly the view from the viewing deck on both sides of the cable car terminal which allows you to see a sweeping panoramic view of the sea as well as Wellington’s skyline. A popular photo op is by waiting for a cable car to come or go so you can capture it in the backdrop of your selfie along with the skyline.

There is a museum or two as well as a massive garden and a restaurant there if you plan to stay for a while. For those who just went up for the views, then this can easily be a quick roundtrip if you move fast enough. Heading back down will lead you back to the CBD which is practically dead during the weekends. Walk a little bit more towards the direction of Te Papa Museum for some nature, history, and more waterfront strolls if you haven’t had enough yet.

What really caught my attention in the museum’s shop was the collection of Learn Maori books that I was almost this close to buying until I forced myself to realize that I have no time to learn Maori in the near future. It’s good to know, though, that there are entire textbook series should I decide to actually do so, not to mention I already searched for intensive summer courses and did find some being offered by some of New Zealand’s universities. Maybe I’ll look into it when I get older and bored.

The museum itself is a spectacle and I believe this is one of the few where I was more interested in the natural side of things rather than historical, perhaps owing to New Zealand’s endemic flora and fauna. They can compete with Australia in terms of animals you rarely or never see in other continents! And of course, just like Iceland, volcanoes also abound here. Coupled with the windchill and the generous views of the sea, I guess this is why I was having flashbacks of Reykjavik all day long.

And that’s a wrap for Wellington. Auckland has more air connections to neighboring Australia, but you’ll surely find a flight connecting you to Wellington. Being at the southern tip of the northern island means almost every other flight out of here to other cities on either island will just be around an hour in duration. Welcome to the capital. As for me, I’m flying to Queenstown next. Adventure, here we go.

[WELLINGTON] Welly Welly Why So Windy

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