New Zealand VIII

Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Friday, December 2, 2005

Day 44: It's time to wave good-bye to the South Island and move on to the North Island. We got on the ferry at Picton and headed to Wellington, New Zealand's capital. Man, what a big boat! There were ten decks, including two for cars. There were a couple restaurants even a bar! The views from the sun deck on top were very cool as we moved through the Marlborough Sounds to exit the South Island. As a special bonus, there was a U.S. college basketball game playing in the bar. This was the first American sporting event we had seen since the World Series while we were in Japan.

Once we made it to Wellington, we accepted an offer from one of the ladies we had met on the Humpridge Track, Annette Marshall, to stay with her at her apartment downtown. They say location is everything, and this place certainly had the location! It was right in the middle of the downtown area. Annette was a very awesome host! We really enjoyed getting to know her a little better.

We weren't there long when Annette's friend Anne, a retired English teacher, showed up to go to a Christmas party. No sooner had she walked in the door when both ladies were laughing and giggling and giving each other a hard time. It looked like they were in for a very fun evening.

We took the opportunity to explore downtown for the evening to see what there was to see. The major stop of the evening was at the Mac's brewery (there is another on the South Island in Stokes) to take in a sample tray of their finest. Mmmm, mmmm.

Day 45: The next morning Annette took us for a walk up Mt. Victoria right in the middle of town. It was quite steep, and we soon saw how she got herself in good shape for the Humpridge. There were outstanding views of Wellington from the top, and you could see across the bay to the Hutt Valley on the other side. On the way back to the apartment, we went into the movie theater where they had the premier of The Return of the King a few years ago (remember the big Gollum on top of the theater).

That afternoon we went to the Te Papa Museum, which is the national museum of New Zealand. It was very cool, and it was also free! We learned a lot about Maori culture, New Zealand geology and history, as well as other cool things about New Zealand. It's easy to lose yourself in there for a day. The only bummer thing about it is that while we were wandering around a museum all day, Annette told is that she and her bridge group had seen a pod of orcas playing in the bay right near the shore...and we missed it!

In the evening we had dinner with Annette and met up with her daughter, granddaughter, and their friends afterwards. It was nice to talk to New Zealanders about what's really going on in the country rather than seeing everything from a tourist's perspective.

Wellington reminded us a lot of Seattle, except it is quite a bit smaller. It is a very nice city.
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