New Zealand: Wellington | Kaiteriteri | Westport

Friday, 27 November 2015

Oh, Wellington. The capital city that held so much promise. Until I actually visited, that was. I had high expectations as we'd repeatedly been told that it was such a cool and quirky city. I know those 2 adjectives are completely subjective but for me, Wellington was pretty dull, miserable and lacklustre. A capital city should boast the best of what a country has to offer and I feel like having Wellington as the capital city does New Zealand such injustice. Take London, or Leeds for example, cities which are constantly alive, vibrant and chaotic. They have character and appeal and Wellington had - well, nothing. Aukland used to be the capital city in 1841, which may be more suited to capital city status considering it has a population of 1.3 million compared to Wellington's mere 400,000. The South Island used to be considered as part of New South Wales so the decision was made to make the capital more central and change it to Wellington in 1865 in order to claim the country. We had free dinner when we arrived - chicken and vegetable stir fry with rice which was actually really good, although the restaurant was combined with the bar and mood lighting doesn't quite work when you're trying to see what you're eating. Having arrived at 7pm we were leaving again at 7am in the morning which left little time for exploring. With this in mind we went for a wander when we checked in to Base hostel and my highlight was the caramel hot chocolate I had from Starbucks. Although it didn't actually taste of caramel and it was the size of my baby fingernail, but I won't split hairs. There may have been plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants lining the streets but nothing spectacular. The streets were empty, there was zero buzz and I was pretty damn disappointed. While Abby, Kate, Jake and Katey were keen to virtually walk to the other side of the city to see the Parliament houses, I was too cold and poorly so bailed and went to bed. Everyone on the bus seemed to be ill in one form or another so the germs kind of get passed on in rotation. Kate then had a poorly stomach so joined me for an early night when she got back.











The following morning was dreaded alarm time and we were up and out by 7am. We boarded the ferry at about 8.30am despite the fact we didn't set off until 9.30am. The hot chocolate I bought from the cafe took about 10 minutes to make and again, was about the size of the palm of my hand. I don't know what it is with this country but small really does mean small. The ferry was pretty boring and I managed to complete 4 sodokus, 1 word search and listened to a playlist on my phone. We then decided to have brunch in the form of a fry up and although it cost an arm and a leg, we didn't know when we'd next get the opportunity to eat and it was so worth it. Boredom really kicked in and I emptied the entire contents of my bag and rearranged it. I separated all my tickets, wristbands, boarding passes and other souvenir bits I've kept and put them all in a safe place. One of my best friends Liz bought me the loveliest little travel notepad for my 21st birthday and I'm going to fill it all out and stick everything in over Christmas. I never get sea sick but I could really feel the boat moving which made me feel a little dizzy and off balance - sometimes I think smaller boats are more gentle than bigger ones. While we were hanging around waiting we heard on the news that Taylor Swift was filming a music video in Kaiteriteri that day which is where we were heading. It's not every day you're in the same place as a major celeb, is it? After about 4 hours on the ferry we finally got off and were rewarded with a brand new bus. The one we previously had was one of the older ones which I wish we'd stuck with because the new shiny one's air con didn't work. Not ideal on a hot, sticky day on a bus full of people when your body temperature is already messed up because you have a cold. Abby and I decided to try and pass the time by playing a quiz game and asking each other questions to see how well we knew each other. After over 3 years of friendship the girl didn't know my eye colour. In case you're wondering, it's hazel. Not brown. A for effort though Abs, although she did know my door number, street name and dog's birthday. 












During the drive we passed through the cutest little beachy town called Nelson. It's New Zealand's sunniest place which boasts the most sunshine hours. The hillside houses and picturesque views were incredible and I wish we had the opportunity to stop off overnight to explore a little more. Eventually, 12 hours later, we arrived at Kaiteriteri lodge - our accommodation for the night. I'm not saying 12 hours to make you feel sorry for me, we were legitimately travelling for 12 hours straight, minus a few toilet breaks and food stops. Kiwi Experience is amazing but it's worth spending more time than the minimum completing the North and South islands because you rarely get a day off. It's very full on and if you're not good functioning on little sleep and ample time on a bus, then you probably need a few days inbetween. The only good thing with sticking to the general minimum route is that everyone seems to stay on the bus which is fab as you form friendships and get to stay with the same group of people. When we arrived in Kaiteriteri it had a similar vibe to Nelson - a beachfront, chilled atmosphere. We arrived to blue skies, the sun shining and swarms of people enjoying food and drinks in the beer garden attached to the hostel. After checking in we made a rather impressive Chicken Tikka Masala and headed outside to enjoy the last of the sun. Everyone sat round and chatted over cider and wine and although it wasn't a particularly late one, it was a nice chilled one. By this point we'd established a nice little group made up of the 3 of us along with Katey and Jake, the Essex siblings, and a couple Morgan (Canadian) and Mike (Scottish), along with a few Swedish boys who taught us about the new apparent craze - snooze. I'm not even sure that's quite how you spell it as I didn't know it even existed. Another joyous thing about our group is that Mike's from Scotland which means we get to listen to some great Scottish referendum debates between him and Kate - it's her speciality now after the amount of Scottish people we've met. We also met a few guys who would be on our bus the following morning right through until Queenstown - Green Dragon, Orange Crayon, Sportacus and Russell Brand - because nicknames are easier than real names. 









On Wednesday morning we had a little lie in and while the girls headed to the beach for a couple of hours I got the chance to briefly catch up with my boyfriend and parents. I'm in the process of convincing my dad to do a skydive and although my mum is far from keen (she's probably aged a few years with worry while I've been away, especially when I was jumping out of a plane) I think I'll have persuaded her in a few months. We left Kaiteriteri at about midday to go to our next destination - Westport. En route we stopped at Lake Rotoiti which is 8km wide and up to 80km deep. It was formed through glaciation over 12,000 and 20,000 years which me and Kate thought was reason enough to jump in. With our bikinis on underneath we stripped off and took the plunge. We were warned it would be cold but I didn't quite realise that it would be breatakingly cold. Apparently my face was a picture and the reaction from everyone on the video when we entered the water gave a 'rather you than me' kinda vibe. Abs was standing on the sideline with towels on hand and we dried off, got changed and hopped back on the bus to warm up. Next on the agenda was another drive and it was a bit of a rocky one. Our bus had been playing up for a couple of days and it really doesn't like hills. That combined with Fish being a bit of a crappy driver means we were practically hanging off the back of a verge when he went the wrong way and decided to do a 3 point turn on a narrow road in a big green bus. 

I'm not being a diva, but everyone at the back of the bus gasped when he tried to manoeuvre forward, failed to find the biting point and jerked backwards. Another slip of the foot and we'd be goners. Even a guy watching looked at us like, what the hell are you doig? After that small interference we were finally going the right way towards our hostel for that evening - Bazils. It had free wifi which is rare and a BYO (buy your own) alcohol policy which is the best kind of policy. Checking in was ridiculous and took well over half an hour, so long that me and Abby walked to the shop and back in the time that it took Kate to beat the queue and get to our room. We made amazing fajitas with chicken, seasoning, peppers, mushrooms and greated cheese before layering up ready for drinks and a bonfire on the beach. That plan fell through when we realised it was a 25 minute walk and nobody actually knew what direction to walk in so we ended up sitting in a courtyard style bit of the hostel and drinking for a couple of hours. While the boys headed to the pub (which turned out to be a nutty local), the girls got an early night in preparation for a big one the following night. Although Westport was short and sweet it seemed a lot like some of the places we've visited before. The next place is promised to be one of the biggest party nights - let's see if it lives up to the claim.

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