Sunday, 13 November 2016

Week 30 - Wellington

Last time I posted we were chilling out in our PJ’s at the hostel in Melbourne ready to fly to New Zealand the next night and I’d sent my friend Kym a message telling her that I’d see her in 2 more sleeps….well that was wrong! If it wasn’t for Kym we would of missed our flight, she kindly reminded us that we were due to arrive in Wellington on the 7th not the 8th and we’d stupidly forgot and booked an extra night at the hostel! It was a mad dash to eat some food, dry my hair and pack our bags to get to the airport on time. We made it of course thanks to the friendly taxi driver that even turned down a $2 tip, but that doesn’t mean that things went smoothly once we got to the airport. Jet Star obviously don’t believe in customer service anymore, gone are the check in desks and in their place are shitty machines that need rebooting every 5 seconds and arsey assistants overseeing them. Being from the UK we couldn’t use the machine to check in as we had to show our onward flight from NZ, fair enough we thought and handed over Kyle’s phone complete with e-ticket to San Fransisco and our ESTA’s for the USA. Well this wasn’t good enough for the jobs worth at the counter, she wanted a print off of our tickets, which i wouldn’t of minded if she wasn’t such a bitch about it, that and the fact it cost us $3 to print off one piece of paper and we’ve now got to look after it for 3 months! For once I managed to keep my cool with the lady in orange, which was good as I could see that Kyle was about to lose his shit!

After the hour long ball ache of checking in came immigration and customs, complete with a full body scanner. Kyle was well excited and was even going to ask to go through, that was until I ended up in the tiny booth with my arms in the air…why is it always me? I even had to look at the body scan to see which areas of my body had flagged up for a search, though it was only my ankles due to the amount of accessories that now adorn them. At immigration my passport was then selected for extra checks, so whilst Kyle waltzed through the electronic system I was left queuing to speak to an officer at the desk. 

It was a surprise after all this carry on that our flight actually left on time, but it did and we were soon on our way to our next destination. As it was 12.50am Australia time and 2.50am New Zealand time we tried to catch some sleep on the plane, which wouldn’t have been a problem if all of the plane weren’t snoring. It was a nightmare so I think between us we managed to catch about an hour. It was well worth being awake for when we flew over NZ though, it is the most beautiful country we have seen from above. The mountains, lakes and seas look unreal, combined with the sunrise it looked more like a picture than reality. I expected Wellington airport to be huge but it’s probably smaller than Blackpool, but it does come with a quirky Lord of the Rings welcoming message…”Welcome to the Middle of Middle earth”.  We later found out that they even have Lord of the Rings decorations in the departure lounge too. But before we could escape the airport we once again had to visit quarantine, where they checked our shoes and belongings and for 10 whole seconds I thought it was the end of my beloved Birkenstocks, especially when they guy held them over the bin, but within 3 minutes we were told that them, and us,were good to go! 

I haven’t seen my friend Kym in almost 12 years, since the good old days of Lancaster and Morecambe college but she had kindly offered us a place to stay whilst we were in Wellington, and once we were reunited it was like nothing had changed, apart from her accent! Kym’s boyfriend Matt drove us the scenic way home and it was nice to the see bay and the homes around the “city” centre, it reminds of me Bowness in the Lake District, with the wooden houses and boats. Wellington is truly stunning, and the city centre is more like a quaint old fashioned town, Kyle instantly fell in love (again). Once we arrived at Kym’s we were joined by her friend Lorraine for a huge fry up before me and Kyle went for an afternoon nap, after which we spent the afternoon relaxing and trying to keep warm. It was raining and cold (it actually made Australia seem warm). 
Poor Matt had to work all day, but once he returned home Kym made us all a lasagne from scratch and home cooked chips (one of my childhood favourites). It was a delicious meal and a real treat to have something homemade. The evening was spent feeling full, re-living old stories and sharing new ones whilst watching The Walking Dead…not that me and Kyle had any idea what was going on after being out of touch for so long. We didn’t think we’d sleep after our nap but Kyle had no problem drifting off, me on the other hand I was scared that I was going to end up like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. The wind and rain were crazy, it was proper blowing a gale, something which we’re all used to back in the U.K but was a shock after not experiencing it for so long, not that I handled storms all to well at home.

Fear not, a good sleep was had by all, so good in fact that Kyle and I slept for 12 hours, though I think that may have something to do with how comfy the bed was. We had a totally lazy morning before heading into the centre of Wellington later that afternoon, and even though it was 18 degrees it certainly felt much hotter underneath the sun, you can feel the lack of o-zone layer. We walked along the waterfront and we were both shocked by how clear the water was, it was so inviting but we didn’t have the balls to jump in like the local children were doing. A short stroll took us to the shopping district and past the Parliament buildings, I love how old fashioned most of the buildings are, how clean the city is and how quiet the streets are after the major cities of Australia. We enjoyed a coffee by the side of the sea before driving round Oriental Bay and up Mount Victoria. The Views from the top of the mountain were amazing, you could see all around Wellington and across the sea, it’s crazy to see how the small capital turns from city to forest and mountains…it truly is picture-esc. I was also glad to note that we don’t have anymore flights to or from Wellington airport as the runway is so tiny, there really is no room for error or you will be in the sea!

I was gutted that we couldn’t have a BBQ whilst we were in Australia, so I was over the moon when Matt and Kyle assembled a huge gas BBQ on the back porch. It got even better when Kym made us all homemade burgers, we did have to eat them inside as it was a little too cold by this point to eat them outside but I didn't mind. Food was followed by star gazing, there’s no light pollution out here so we were able to see Mars, Venus and the International Space station., it was geeky but actually pretty cool.

The next morning we took a drive to Cape Palliser to see the Seals, this meant driving over the Rimutaka Crossing. I shit my pants, the crossing took us high along the mountainside with a sheer drop alongside the road edge, by the time we reached the bottom I had the sweatiest hands, but Kyle and Kym had a great laugh at my expense. The drive also took us though some of New Zealand’s more rural areas, huge farm land was joined by houses that looked like something out of an old western movie. It was a great drive and gave us a taste of whats to come, the best bit of all was when we saw the coastline. Surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, rivers and trees the sea is a turquoise blue that is almost jewel like…it was beautiful. I got over excited as we drove further along and began to see all the seals swimming, there were hundreds of them lounging on the rocks or playing in the water. We all got a little jumpy when they shouted at us for being too close mind!

It was a long but brilliant day for us all, and as a reward for good behaviour in the car Kym made us lamb, mash and vegetables which were washed down with home made cookies. If I was worried about putting weight on in Australia I needn’t of been, it’s all the good food here that’ll have me struggling to get in my jeans.

Kym had just moved house a few days before we arrived and still had a few odd jobs to do at her old house before the landlord moved back in, so the next day we went to help her with hoovering and polishing. I’m not kidding when I say that it was like cleaning a castle, her old house is huge, but with the three of us and Lorraine we quickly got the job done and made our way to Lorraine’s to meet her family and enjoy a spag bol. Lorraine has 3 of the cutest, politest kids that we have encountered, Leigh-Anne, Alfie and Isla. We were made to feel more than welcome, and got to play dolls with Isla, hear about camp from Alfie and watch Leigh-Anne play fifa before having some wine and a laugh around the table with the adults. Kyle soon got talking about life in New Zealand with Lorraine’s husband Dave, the main topic a bidding site named, Trade Me, and the various bargains which are available, this soon earned Dave the nickname Dollar Dave thanks to his $1 chairs and $3 tables. 

Wellington likes to rain and I’m not a huge fan of wet weather, so we had a pretty chilled day after our spring clean. This consisted of a quick trip round the charity shops and a hair cut for Kyle before pricing up camping gear and then car shopping online at home. We did the unthinkable and viewed some cars at the side of the road too, not that you’d dare do that back in England, but decided against taking any for a test drive, and instead booked a viewing for later in the week at a proper garage.

Following our cleaning day, Kym and Matt had some final jobs to do before handing back the keys to their old house but none of that could be done until after the football. So on our 6th day in Wellington the boys woke at 8am to watch England beat Scotland in the World Cup qualifiers. It felt odd to watch football with a fry up rather than a pint, but I think Kyle was happy to finally watch a game, his first since Thailand. The rainy afternoon was spent introducing Kyle to the old BBC show,  Extras, which then led to $5 Dominos, beer and board games. I lost badly at Trivial Pursuit, but in my defence it was the 1996 Australian edition! 

After a lazy few days in the rain we woke to glorious sunshine and a little heat, so along with Dave and the kids we took a day trip to Aotea lagoon. Which to be honest was a little disappointing as it was so dirty, apparently the locals are working on cleaning it up, so hopefully if we revisit at Christmas it will look a little better. However, Kyle and Alfie got in a good game of football whilst Isla played on the park so all was not lost. As we wanted to make the most of the sunshine we made our next stop Onepoto beach, and it was lovely and warm down by the rock pools so us girls collected shells whilst the boys rock climbed to get the best views of the south island. No sunny day is complete without a BBQ so it was back to Lorraine’s for steak and burgers to end our adventures. Poor Dave got stuck with all the cooking, Kyle was too busy on the playstation with Alfie, I was making dens with Isla and Kym and Lorraine were chatting away over a glass or two of wine…sorry about that Dave, but your burgers were great!

We felt an earthquake in Tokyo, and to be honest it wasn’t too bad compared to the one which we felt last night! A 7.5 magnitude hit the South Island and the shocks were felt all the way up here in Wellington, so severe in fact that the house was shaking for almost two minutes, we were all tucked up in bed but it felt as though we were on a boat! Kyle managed to drift straight back off to sleep but Kym and I got up to investigate, thankfully there was no damage to her house or the contents and the neighbouring houses were all O.K. I didn’t drift off till a little after 2am, the aftershocks and news of tsunamis kept my mind wandering but when we woke and saw the news we soon realised how lucky we were. Wellington is currently on lock down, with public transport links cancelled and people being advised not to go to work, tsunami warnings are also still in place. The South has suffered quite badly so we’re currently waiting it out before we make any further travel plans, this means buying a car has been put on hold until at least tomorrow. Thanks once again for all your messages, it’s nice to receive them not only from friends and family but people around the world too. Promise to keep you all updated….

Love Carrie xxx

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