Wellington, New Zealand

They say that Wellington is New Zealand’s answer to Melbourne which, you may have heard, has become my favourite city in the world. I had pretty high expectations for it and was delighted to find that we were located on the funky Cuba Street, where much of the arty scene resides. I did a bit of research and found that Wellington has a lot of funky hot chocolate joints, so we went off to find a lesser known place called the Library. As you may imagine, The Library is a gorgeous, hidden bar up a flight of industrial stairs. It’s leather arm chairs and mahogany book cases make for a romantic but homely atmosphere and I had no qualms in ordering a hot chocolate at 11pm on a Friday night- very much my kind of joint. The cocktail list was to die for and it is certainly the kind of place we would frequent if we lived in Wellington. What a find!

The next day began with Matthew’s favourite (not) errand- a haircut and beard trim. I had spotted a cool- looking barber just down the road from us which was advertising some good deals, so I managed to convince him to head inside. He was greeted by a very stylish British guy who got him into a chair and the magic began. Half an hour later he was a free man and looking less hobo and much more hipster.

We jumped into the car and popped to the Weta Caves, the place where the highly talented costume, prop and set designers of New Zealand create masterpieces for blockbuster movies such as Lord of The Rings and the Narnia films. There was a slightly odd but highly enthusiastic sword maker telling anyone who would listen about his trade and a few cool things on display which you could look at for free. The hobbit feet were cool although I did confuse them for my Dad’s for a moment. Matthew reassured me that Dad had not had his feet amputated and in fact, I was looking at hobbit prosthetics- phew.

We drove back into town as we didn’t fancy paying for a tour of the workshops (although it is supposed to be cool) after stopping by at Shark’s Bay to eat our packed lunch. The wind was howling, rocking the car all over the place, but it was a jazzy spot for a picnic. The Te Papa museum in Wellington is pretty famous so we hit that up for a couple of hours thanks to a lovely man who gave us his car park ticket for free and then had a walk along the waterfront. We stopped for donuts but couldn’t pay for them as our card mysteriously wouldn’t work. The generous man gave them to us for free and then was overwhelmed when we returned a couple of hours later with double the cash we owed him. His slogan was ‘kindness first’ so we thought we would show him a bit of love.

In the evening we met up with some old family friends, Chris and Barry. In fact, Chris had at one point been my Granma’s boss but had really shown amazing friendship in my Granma’s last few months, writing to her nearly every day. She’s a good lady, and Granma would have loved that we met up on the other side of the world. Chris and Barry have always been avid travellers and planted a seed in me many years ago that the world was accessible and if I wanted to, I could see it. Maybe if I hadn’t seen these pair travelling as a child I wouldn’t be where I am now. I was really chuffed to hear some of Chris’ stories about my Granma and I even heard her call her ‘Annie’ which I had never heard anyone call her before. She told me about the day she came with me and Granma for my first ballet visit. She even remembered what I had been wearing- so special!