Lovely little Wellington was a delight to explore. I took the cable car up to the botanic gardens since my legs were still slightly sore from the Tongariro. I walked through the fragrant, succulent, and rose gardens, which were impeccable. From there, I went to Zealandia, which is a nature reserve for native NZ birds. To make Zealandia, they cleared the area of mammalian pests, built a fence around the entire reserve to prevent the entrance of new pests, and repopulated the area with birds. I walked the recommended route, which took about 2.5 hours. There are many more kms of tracks going deeper into the reserve that I didn’t have time to explore!
Some of the birds I saw were:
- Takahe, which is a large, flightless bird with blue/green plummage.
- Saddleback, which has an orange spot on its back
- Fantail, which are one of my favorites, that have a tail that looks like a fan.
- Kaka, which is a brown forest dwelling parrot
- and TONS of Tui, which are birds that have two white tufts in their neck region.
After Zealandia, I went to the Te Papa museum, which is a fun, interactive museum on the geology, history, and culture of NZ. From there, I went to Moore Wilsons (kind of like the kiwi version of Trader Joe’s to look for beeswax food wrap that I had previously seen in Taupo. This stuff is really cool: it’s made of beeswax and is a reusable food wrap that can be used as an alternative to plastic wrap. Yay for the environment!
The following morning, I walked up Mount Victoria (it’s really just a hill) to the lookout, which has great views of the harbor. I visited the Museum of the City and Sea and the City Gallery (modern art, was not a fan) before heading back up to the botanic gardens with my book (The Sphere by Michael Crichton). Wellington is an extremely friendly city. Multiple people (in cafés, gelato stores, etc.) asked me how my day was going and we shared more than a “hi, bye” conversation. People here are not in a rush, and I didn’t feel the hustle and bustle I feel in other capital cities.
Cities are nice, but they make me restless. By the end of my second day in Wellington, I was ready to get back out onto some trails.