We spent the entire day exploring the city of Wellington. And apparently we got really lucky because the weather usually very windy there but we got hardly any wind and lots of beautiful sunshine.
We met up with Marjie’s cousin who is also named Claire for breakfast and then she showed us around the city for the rest of the day. We went to Weta Cave where numerous famous movies are produced including the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Next we went up to the top of Mount Victoria and got a beautiful view of the city, much better in my opinion than Mt Eden in Auckland. But it was also way nicer weather too. We could see the entire city from atop the mountain and some buildings were more obvious than others such as the rugby stadium. There is also a forest atop Mt Victoria where they shot the scene in Fellowship of the Ring where the hobbits are escaping from the shire and hiding from the ringwraiths.
We went to a kebab restaurant for lunch. I was confused at first by what a kebab was because I always just thought of shish kebabs. But kebabs are basically hot wraps and very tasty.
After lunch we went for a walk around the harbor and got some ice cream. Still amazed by the beauty of New Zealand. We also got to see the university campus that Claire studies at, Victoria University of Wellington I believe.
And what a way to have a last dinner in New Zealand! We went out to dinner with Claire and her parents to a very tasty restaurant. It was nice to be able to meet them and to learn more about the differences in New Zealand and American cultures. Plus the dinner was outstanding.
The next day our flight left at 3PM so we had some time in the morning but not enough time to really do anything special. We looked around for the botanic gardens but then our hunger overcame our curiosity and we drove to Porirua and breakfast at a small bakery before heading off to a museum in Porirua with an interesting money exhibit. Afterwards, we dropped off the rental car, went to the airport and said goodbye to New Zealand. But hey, it didn’t seem too sad because we were going back to Australia.
Today I had an out of body experience. I decided to wake up at the crack of dawn to go on a 19.5km hike. But it was totally worth it! It’s called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and it’s one of the most famous day hikes in New Zealand. In both islands. It’s also where they filmed Mordor in the Lord of the Rings series.
The shuttle took us to one end of the crossing. While we were driving there, we were very nervous because it was very cloudy and you could barely see the mountains at all. It cleared up eventually though and we had another beautiful day in New Zealand.
The first couple kilometers of the hike were extremely easy and I was thinking that they overdramatized the intenseness of this hike. Then we came across a sign asking us if we were sure we wanted to continue. After that sign was where we got lots of stairs to take us across the crossing.
We then reached where we thought was the top. Boy were we mistaken, the next part was basically straight up the mountain with gravel that didn’t provide very good footing. At one point I froze on the mountain not sure if I could go any further, I was afraid I would fall because if you know me well, let’s just say I’m not the most coordinated person. Fortunately, this kiwi guy came up behind me and asked me if I needed a hand. He held my hand up the rest of the mountain. I’m so glad that some guys still have that damsel in distress instinct.
Now we really were at the top and the views were breathtaking. Then we went down a ways to these magnificent pools called the “emerald lakes”. Far more magnificent than a picture can accurately portray.
After the descent to the emerald lakes, we had an easy but long bushwalk to the end of the trail where the shuttle picked us up and brought us back to the hostel.
But we weren’t done for the day, we still had a four hour drive to Wellington where we would finish our New Zealand road trip