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Day 16 – Wellington

October 31, 2012

We were up and out the camper-van by 8.45am to catch the bus in to Wellington. It was another sunny day though a bit blustery. Wellington is known as the windy city and until mid-afternoon it sure lived up to it’s name. Our plan was to get on the 10am Hop-on-Hop-off bus but we were not aware that there were 2 cruise ships in port and the earliest available slot would have been the mid-day one. Instead we opted to go on the Wellington Bus Tour at 11am – we turned up at 10.50 to find that the bus was virtually full with only 3 seats left on the back seat!!! After a short tour of the streets which once upon a time had been either underwater or on the shoreline we arrived at the cable car. This is one of Wellington’s most famous attractions that literally clanks up the steep slope from street side up to Kelburn. The cable car was built in 1902 and takes only 7/8 mins to get to the summit. If you want to know more about it’s history you will find this at http://www.wellingtoncablecar.co.nz or http://www.cablecarmuseum.co.nz

Our coach driver and guide who had driven the coach to meet us at the top was getting a little irritated as it had taken some 20mins longer than normal due to the vast number of people riding the cable car and he kept blasting his horn out to try to hurry the latecomers!!!

The views from the top were great as you looked out over the roof tops of the busy city across the bay and on to the town of Eastbourne at the opposite side of the bay.

From here we moved on to view some of the very expensive housing NZ$2m upwards as we travelled down towards the botanical gardens. After a short stop we were on our way to the political centre of the city and a number of government buildings both old and new. 

The most notable of these is the beehive which looks exactly as its name. It was designed by a british architect Sir Basil Spence with construction starting in 1969 and taking 11yrs to complete.

Alongside is the more austere grey and cream looking Parliament House with building completed in 1922 and next to that is a neo-gothic library building which was built in 1899. Directly opposite these is a 1876 wooden building which is one of the world’s largest wooden construction. Of all these buildings this is the one which has by far the best character!!

We then took a short bus ride to Old St Paul’s church. Built in 1866 this is bursting with character and charm. It has a striking interior a superb example of early English Gothic timberwork, with magnificent stained glass windows. Sadly it is now only used for special events such as weddings and funerals etc and you have to provide your own priest as there is no longer one active with the church.

Our bus tour was drawing to an end but not before we climbed to the top of Mt Victoria. This by far provided the best view of the city, harbour and surrounding area – a full 360 degrees. It is 196m above the sea level and I’m pleased we went by bus!

On returning back down to the hub of the city we noted that some people have installed their own personal cable car rails to get them up to their homes which of course have stunning views!

After some lunch in the wharf area and a bit of shopping we jumped on a bus to meet up with David and Judith Bennett for coffee etc. David and Judith were ministers in the Salvation Army and came to England around 13 years ago to lead the church in Bournemouth that we were members of. They stayed for 2.5yrs before returning back to NZ.

It was so good to meet up with them and they we were grateful to them for showing us around the area they know so well and we spent a very happy 3hrs with them. It didn’t seem 10yrs ago that we last saw them and it was great to see and hear about the work they are involved in through the Salvation Army in Wellington. David is responsible for the Salvation Army’s emergency response service throughout NZ and was actively involved in leading the support provided in Christchurch when they were hit by the earthquake in early 2010.

So we had left our camper-van home at 8.45am and 11hrs later we returned feeling somewhat tired. However, we have had another great day and we now need to prepare ourselves for an early start tomorrow morning. We have to be at the ferry terminal at 7am to start our journey to the South Island so an early night is required!!

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