Beautiful Wellington NZ! A central hub for the making of The Lord of the Rings and dubbed “the coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet. It is the political capital of NZ, and a movie-making and cultural center.
It was wonderful to be welcomed by friends, who mapped “must do” items, including the Snickers milkshake at the Maranui Surf Life Saving Club and samosas at their neighborhood dairy.
We stayed in Lyall Bay
Welly’s most popular surf beach. A 10-minute walk from our AirBnB to our friend’s home, or in the opposite direction, a coast track for a stupendous walk. Daily heaven! Each evening, bundled up in our puffy coats, we followed barefooted footprints of surfers in wetsuits toting boards to and from the beach.
Weta Cave Workshop
Full-scale sculptures, props, artifacts, and apparel designed by Weta artists for hundreds of films, notably Lord of The Rings. Founded by Richard Taylor and Tonia Rogers.
Red Rocks Coastal Walk at Ōwhiro Bay
An 8km walk on gravelly, sandy rocky coastline (a tad hard on the feet) through Devil’s Gate. No elevation – unless you want to climb the hills beside you that ascend to the sky.
The Windy City
Wellington typically has 178 days a year gusting at, or often well above, 63 km/h (40 mph), (metservice.com). The average breeze is 22 km/h (13 mph).
Central Business District
Downtown was easily explored on foot: Parliament (The Beehive), Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa “Our Place”) and the waterfront promenade. Although NZ had moved from COVID lockdown to Level 1, the city’s art/ music, ballet theatre venues were closed. We might not have left if we’d had a taste of that.
TePapa – ANZAC – Australian and New Zealand Forces: Te Papa and Weta Workshop joined forces to create an exhibit like no other. WWI war scenes from the battles in Gallipoli, Turkey were recreated with giant figures and amazing detail. The exhibit remains in place until 2022.
The world’s first fully-fenced urban eco-sanctuary conservation project (2.5 acres) reintroduced over 20 species of native wildlife, some absent from mainland NZ for over 100 years. The tuatara, a living dinosaur, has outlived dinosaurs who became extinct about 60 million years ago
Kapiti Coast & Paraparaumu Beach
A day’s drive to Kapiti Island – a bird sanctuary (sadly, still closed after lockdown). The surrounds were magnificent with a glimpse of South Island’s Kaikoura Mountain Range, to an overabundance of beach, bush and coast walks. A twisting, curvy road back towards the city of Upper Hutt.
Next: Lower North Island: East to Martinborough, Wairarapa Valley: Wineries and Lighthouses.