A Windy City
After our day in Hawke's Bay we drove south and arrived in Wellington, checking into the Intercontinental Hotel in the center of town. We had dinner reservations at a hip place nearby called Hippopotamus, likely the best meal we had in New Zealand. The decor was eclectic, the food was delectable, and the view over the harbor was stunning. Hippopotamus is a must if you find yourself in Wellington, whether for dinner, breakfast, high tea, or for a cocktail at the bar.
The following day we headed out in the morning to the cable car and took it to the very top to enjoy the beautiful view over the harbor. Adjacent to the cable car station are the expansive Wellington Botanic Garden where we decided to walk down the hillside through the various foliage and a copse of some of the craziest looking wavy-trunked trees. It was finally a beautiful sunny day and really felt like summer (friendly reminder that it's summer there in January, a wild and confusing concept at best). So we meandered through the gardens, stopped at the rose garden at the bottom of the hill, then made our way back into town through the historic cemetery. We passed the New Zealand Parliament buildings like the oddly shaped and aptly named "Beehive" structure. Then we proceeded along Lampton Quay, which is one of the major shopping streets in town, and shopped the way back to the hotel for a late lunch/snack. Within a half an hour of arriving back at the hotel, a massive storm had rolled in, bringing sheets of rain and skies so dark it could have been dusk. We holed up in the hotel all evening and for dinner ate the series of hors d'oeuvres and some complimentary glasses of wine offered in the concierge lounge.
The next morning it was time to head to the next destination, but first I wanted to try one of the infamous Wellington coffee shops, opting for Havana Coffee Works in a trendy area of town near Cuba Street. Wellington is known for an artsy flair and on the route to Havana Coffee we passed several cool murals, tons of little craft boutiques and vintage shops, and all manner of decidedly hip things reminiscent of San Francisco or Wynwood, Miami. A yummy cup of coffee in hand, we headed off to the Interislander ferry ride that I was wholly dreading. I had been told by several locals how miserable the boat ride from the north to the south island was across Cook Straight and I loaded up with seasickness pills and juiced ginger hoping to survive...