Days 29-31 - Wellington and Picton

Trip Start Mar 02, 2009
Trip End Aug 26, 2009

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

After an early departure from Palmerson North, we arrived into Wellington at 10am. After a bit of exploring, I could see why many New Zealanders prefer their capital to Auckland. Wellington felt like a smaller and trendier city based around a big harbour with many nice restaurants and the famous Te Papa museum on the harbourfront. We wondered around and headed down Cuba St for some lunch. The shops are very different to those in the UK, more independent boutiques and a noticable lack of big chain stores.
We took the the famous red cable car up the hillside to the lookout and headed down the botanical gardens and passed through a large rose garden at the bottom.
The next day we visited the Te Papa museum for a few hours before driving on to the 2pm Interislander ferry to cross over to the South Island. This was one of the best boat rides I have been on as it was a perfect sunny day as it crossed the water and made its way up the Cook Straight at the northeast edge of the south island, the closest point to Wellington. It was like sailing in to a peaceful inlet surrounded by huge lush green mountains, we even saw a number of dolphins on the way. We arrived at Picton just after 5pm and made our way to the campsite just 1km from the town/village centre. Picton is a great place and you can see it caters very well for tourists on their first stop from the north island. We headed for dinner at Seamus's Irish pub for a taste of home for Paula. A guiness hotpot and a few pints of quality guiness (very unlike the dishwater served up in Auckland) went down an absolute treat to end the day!
Having woken up slightly later than usual with a fuzzy head from the 'few' pints, we walked to the town for a look around and stopped for a hearty lunch. This was when were introduced to sand flies. An interesting cross between mosquitoes and midges, these little buggers give you a small nip and if you're not quick enough, have a drink and leave bites which swell up and itch similar to that of mossies. Apparently they're a hazard on most trek routes across the south island and therefore tropical strength insect repellent is a must! Can't wait. And I thought I had to wait until Thailand for that pleasure!
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