At 2:00 on Monday we packed up our bags and headed away from the land of the rotten egg and headed towards Wellington, the capital city of Auckland known for awful rainy and windy weather, the Seattle of the southern hemisphere. It is the gateway to the South Island so it is a necessary step to get to the hostel where we have free room waiting. The ride was fantastic, despite it being a little lengthy. We drove around lake Taupo, the largest lake in Australasia and the right on past Mordor, a massive snow covered volcano. There were clouds covering the peak but I’m pretty sure if they weren’t there we would have seen the eye.
We got here pretty late, almost nine at night and our goal was to quickly find the hostel and get some shut eye. The YHA we are staying at is more like a hotel then a regular hostel with six floors and two kitchens and three lounges, but its nice to have a little quiet alone time.
The only downside is we booked a twin room instead of a double so the beds are about the same size as one you might buy for a quickly growing toddler. We tried to make it work but at around six in the morning I was kicked off the bed with no hopes of going back to sleep. I decided to go on a run and I am so glad that I did. There is something amazing about waking up early and wandering outside. Its like you get to know the city in a more intimate way. I ran along the harbor with the waves rolling in and the sun almost even peeking out. Notice how Alex isn’t in any of these pictures. He’s mad jealous of my fitness.
When Alex finally got around to waking up we had some breakfast and headed to Weta Caves. This is where the Lord of the Rings costume, weapons, and basically magic was made. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures because it is an active workshop with new things in the works but believe me, it was fantastic.
We got to feel all the different chain-mail that each character wore (Aragon wore actual 50 pound chain mail for most of it, Legolas wore plastic ha!) and see how the gun from District 9 was created. We saw how they built tiny castles and made them look real with mirrors. It was awesome.
Then after some hearty meat pies, we headed away from “Wellywood” and went to New Zealand’s WWI exhibition. A lot of countries are doing memorials since we are in the 100 year anniversary period of it, and though I haven’t been to any others I can’t see how they could get much better than this one. First of all, Peter Jackson did it so obviously each detail was meticulously thought out, but just the scale of it was impressive. They had wax displays that were unbelievably life like including everything from the veins in the eyes to the stubble.
These wax men were hiding in bunkers, shown in tanks, kissing their mothers goodbye. Framing these displays were advertisements to enlist, newspapers showing what was happening, and even displays below glass floors that had dirt and other leftovers from the troops in battle.
In the portion dedicated to the New Zealanders service in Gallipoli, a massive miniature replica of the battle was laid over the span of rooms. There had to be thousands of tiny soldiers showing how each party of the battle progressed.
This battle was fought entirely by the ANZAC or Australian New Zealand Army Core and this is commemorated on ANZAC day, one of the biggest holidays here. Best of all, this display is free, though they ask for a donation if you enjoyed it, which you WILL enjoy it, so if anyone reading this is here in Wellington, go!
So after the memorial we took a walk down by the harbor so I could show Alex all the awesome things he missed by sleeping in. By chance we ran into this little fella. Normally seals don’t hang out on this side of the bay because of all the ferry and boating traffic but we got lucky!
We wound down our eventful day with a fabulous pizza at a restaurant called Fidel’s (on Cuba street) who offered up a large pizza and two beers for 20 bucks (cha-ching), and then for another beer at a bar with the basketball game on.
So how funny is this. The rugby team is the All Blacks. The basketball team is the Tall blacks. How awesome! I can’t tell you who won though. I was about the pass out with exhaustion by half time. I wish we could do more exploring today but Wellington is living up to its name. The wind is howling against our windows and it hasn’t stopped raining yet. But in other news I have two fun updates.
I emailed the American Embassy a few days ago to see if I could meet a diplomat and see what their job is like. They agreed so I get to go meet a foreign service officer in three hours and check out an American Embassy for the first time. I’m so pumped! This is kind of my dream career so yay!
I also applied as to be a hostel manager in Queenstown (the city I REALLY want to live in) and she wrote me back today and said my CV looks good, she is just going to email my references. Its a six month fixed position in my dream city and its a tiny little lodge surrounded by mountains. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Love you all!