Tag archive for "wellington"

I lived my dreams in New Zealand

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, New Zealand

I lived my dreams in New Zealand

14 Comments 24 September 2012

As I write this, half my body hangs out the sliding door in my room, being warmed by the sun. It’s Spring in New Zealand and while the grass is always green in this country, you can really feel nature come alive here as the temperature rises.

Big Jet Plane by Angus and Julia Stone is playing, something I always like to listen to when I’m about to go on a big trip. Up until this moment I’ve felt nothing but excitement about visiting Thailand and Malaysia as well as my family in the States and Ric’s in England. But at this moment, it hits me, going there, means leaving here, New Zealand.

My body stiffens up and temples start go tense.

We came, we saw, we created a home and once again it’s time to leave.

I have to say it’s much harder to leave a home made in a foreign country, not because you love the people there more than those of your real homeland or because it’s better, but because you know you might be leaving forever. Ric and I have every intention of coming back, more on that in future posts, but that’s not promised, nothing ever is when your dealing with a home in a place that’s not naturally your own.

I’ve been traveling now for almost three years and have visited and lived in a lot of places, leaving and saying goodbye to people never gets easier.

New Zealand was a completely different experience for me for a lot of reasons. For one, I arrived here with my partner. We made New Zealand our home together and I think there’s a lot of sentiment with all things involving young love. We struggled together when we first arrived and looked after one another throughout our time here. We moved to Wellington together. We played in the Coromandel together. We watched the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup together. We even put on a Thanksgiving dinner here, together.

Ric and I at the top of Mount Victoria, days before saying goodbye to our first home in New Zealand, Wellington.

I treated New Zealand as more of a home than any other place I’ve ever visited. Prior to coming here I spent a year in Australia, which I can only compare to my childhood. I had no intentions, no responsibilities. I partied and played day and night. While New Zealand had a bit of that here and there, I definitely felt myself grow up here. Maybe it’s because of that, because I treated this place as more of a life than a play date, that it hurts so much to leave.

Maybe there’s just something about this place that feels right, that feels comfortable, that feels…like home. It’s in the kindness of strangers here, the welcome of new friends and the rapture of the land.

New Zealand is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. I’ve said that a few times before and I stand by the statement completely. I expected it to be pretty, but not to be in aww of every sight.

Milford Sound is one of the most beautiful places I visited in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It’s one of the easiest places I’ve been able to settle into over the years and it’s a place that really gives its people the freedom to be creative, live how they want and do things a bit differently from others.

After winning an Oscar for The Muppets, Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords said this about his native New Zealand to the New York Times, “It’s a great place to grow up, you can do whatever you want there. Whereas I think in America, everyone is obsessed with their careers, New Zealand I think you just get to live your dreams.”

Living here for just over a year, I definitely feel that.

Maybe that’s why so many people do end up staying here. It’s definitely why I’m coming back.

So New Zealand, thanks for the sunshine, for sweeping me off my feet and making me feel at home. It’s not goodbye, but till next time.

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Celebrating one year in New Zealand

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Celebrating one year in New Zealand

13 Comments 09 July 2012

A year ago today, Ric and I arrived in New Zealand, which means tomorrow will mark a new achievement in my travels-spending more than one full year in a foreign country.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for so long and that I’m still hanging around here for a few more months, but it just feels right.

Whenever I meet locals from the country I’m traveling, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you ever get home sick?”. Almost always, my answer is “Yes”. But there is something different about New Zealand. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been here for so long or the fact that I’ve spent my entire time here with a partner, but for some reason, I feel at home in New Zealand.

Which is quite weird considering this country gave me the coldest welcoming of all the countries I’ve visited in the past two and a half years.

Prior to arriving in New Zealand last July, I was traveling on my own rendition of The Endless Summer. It started in Sydney in January of 2010, which is where I first started my current journey. It continued in the farms of Victoria for a few months and after that I worked my way up the east coast, pretty much following the heat. When Winter hit Australia, I found warmth in the tropics of Far North Queensland. And when it became a bit too hot there, I headed back to Melbourne for another Aussie Summer.

Next was SE Asia where it’s always warm and finally the good ol’ US of A in the Summer of 2011, which is one of the hottest Summers I’ve ever felt at home. But my summer was cut short when, as I mentioned above, I headed to NZ in July of last year, first stop-Queenstown.

The snow must have just been waiting for Ric and I too. Prior to our arrival, Queenstown was having a bit of a “drought”. The heavy ski destination was missing it’s number one ingredient to a good season. But the night we arrived, it came in full blast.

Nothing like waking up to snow in Queenstown. This shot was taken from our hotel room the day after we arrived in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I remember waking up at 4 a.m., jet-lagged, and Ric saying, “This is the first time I’ve had to put on all my clothes to go out for a fag in a year and a half.”

We weren’t in Australia anymore. 

But we wouldn’t stay in Queenstown for long, rumor of lack of jobs and friends’ calling up north led us to Blenheim. It’s not the most happening town, but we were in good company. We spent about a month there, then headed to Wellington, where we would make our first home in the country. We had a rough few nights in the country’s capital city to start, but came to love it and stuck around for about five months, the longest Ric or I have spent anywhere since we started traveling.

It was nice to have a home of sorts, but being the constant travelers we are, we had to hit the road eventually. In January we embarked on a six week trip around both islands. After that, I really understood why the people who have traveled NZ, go on about it so much.

Flat out, this is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. From kayaking Abel Tasman to hiking Franz Josef Glacier, camping out in Haast to living it up in Queenstown, it’s just a spectacular place to visit.

Ric and I spent two weeks traveling the South Island with my Dad, two weeks catching up with friends around the country and two more weeks with Ric’s family in Mount Maunganui, then it was time to build another home. And I think we’ve built our best one yet.

We’ve been living in the Mount for five months now and plan to spend another two here. During that time we’ve lived with some great housemates, Ric found an amazing job at a cafe and I…well I’ve worked with one of the country’s biggest icons: kiwifruit. It’s not always been an easy industry to work in, in fact working in agriculture is quite tedious, but the work has allowed me to stay here for more than a year.

US citizens are granted a three month extension on their work holiday visas after completing three months of agricultural work in New Zealand.

I started my work in March and was granted my extension, actually on the spot, in late June. I can’t describe just how relieved I felt that day. Traveling for as long as I have, it’s not all a holiday. Money is a constant worry as is trying to stay with a partner from a different country. In fact, one of the things that drew Ric and I to New Zealand is the fact that we were both eligible for working holiday visas here. So being granted those extra few months here, just put everything in order for me.

While we don’t plan to stick around here for too much longer, Thailand in September-Yesss!!!, we would like to return. How, you ask? Stay tuned. My mission has always been to stay on the road for as long as possible and I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve to help me do that.

But today, I’m going to celebrate a year in New Zealand, two and half years traveling and almost two years with my favorite travel partner and best friend.

Home is wherever I’m with you-bad’un.

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A video tour of New Zealand’s South Island

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

A video tour of New Zealand’s South Island

6 Comments 30 April 2012

It’s not possible to take just a few photos in New Zealand’s South Island. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to take thousands.

Considering my track record with taking too many photos (600 in Angkor Wat, yikes), I thought maybe I would try recording my travels around the South Island on video instead of photos. That way I could get every view, every moment, every glorious mountain or lake on record.

This is really my first attempt at vlogging a trip, so be kind. I separated this series into four parts. Ric, my dad and I started our 10-day journey around the South Island from Wellington and ended in Queenstown. Our car Maximus was a reliable carrier. It was nice to have private transportation in this trip, because we could stop at as many waterfalls, gorges and lookouts as we wanted and trust me, we did.

Part I: Wellington to Abel Tasman

We started our journey in Wellington as that has been my hometown for the previous five months. From Wellington, it’s a three-hour ferry ride across the Cook Strait to Picton on the South Island.

We didn’t spend long in Picton, just enough time to have fish and chips along the water and spot a ray in the water. We traveled to Blenheim to visit a friend at Moa Brewery, then headed to Nelson where we set up our tents just off the beach at Tahuna Beach Holiday Park.

After only one night, we left early the next morning for Abel Tasman, stopping along the way for my dad’s first skydive. The start of the trip was a bit of a rush, so we spent two days relaxing, kayaking and eating burgers in Abel Tasman.

Part II: Abel Tasman to Hokitika Gorge

The next leg of our trip was more about the journey then the destination. We spent this day and a half mainly on the road, which you’ll find is a good thing when traveling New Zealand.

We had a picnic on the beach as soon as we hit the West Coast in Charleston. We played around at a sweet cave on the beach not too much further up the road. Of course we stopped in Punakaiki to see Pancake Rocks. Then we spent a night in Greymouth at Noah’s Ark, one of the very best hostels I’ve ever visited. Greymouth is home to Monteith’s Brewery. Naturally we sampled the beer.

The first half of the following day was all about hitting Hokitika Gorge on the way to Franz Josef. I’ve never seen water that color blue. Stunning.

Part III: Hokitika Gorge to Queenstown

Unlike the last part, this part was all about the destinations. We hit some of New Zealand’s most notables in these days. First was Franz Josef where we climbed a glacier. Next was Haast where we tried white bait. After there was Wanaka where we sampled wine at Rippon Vineyard.

Finally we reached Queenstown, where we gave up our tents for a sweet apartment. In the country’s ski capital we had an amazing meal at The Bunker, which has a mysterious James Bond vibe to it. A few days isn’t enough in Queenstown. Luckily, we’d be coming back.

Part IV: Queenstown to Milford Sound

There’s no better way to finish a trip to the South Island than with what is perhaps its most stunning scenery, Milford Sound.

While Queenstown and Milford Sound are not that far from each other on a map, the only road connecting these two destinations goes completely out of the way, so the drive takes about four hours. It’s a great dive though, as usual.

We arrived in Milford Sound, rain pouring and waterfalls gushing. The small town doesn’t have many places to stay, so Milford Sound Lodge was an easy pick. The lodge is warm and full of life. Its dining area is walled with windows, so we spent the night drinking wine and watching the rain come down on the mountains just next to the lodge.

While I loved being in Milford Sound in the stormy weather and seeing how powerful the place is, I didn’t really want to cruise Milford Sound in rain the next day. Luckily, the clouds separated and the sun came out giving us a gorgeous day at sea. Unfortunately we had to leave early that day to drive back to Queenstown where Ric and I said goodbye to my dad at the airport.

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24 hours in Wellington, NZ

24 hours, Destinations, Guides, New Zealand

24 hours in Wellington, NZ

13 Comments 22 April 2012

From calm seasides to a busy city center, 24 hours in Wellington may not be enough to see everything, but it is enough to try a bit of everything New Zealand’s capital has to offer. A budget of $60 for a full day in windy Welly might seem a bit tight, but the city has heaps of free activities and most of them are in walking distance from one another, making food and drink the only expenses to think about.

8 a.m. 

With a big breakfast in your future, it might be a good idea to start the day with some exercise by walking up Mt. Victoria, Wellington’s highest point. It’s not anything too strenuous and the reward at the end will be worth it.

Mt Victoria offers spectacular views of the city on your conquer list today. Look down on the harbour, Cuba Street and CBD on one side. Another side offers more nautical views in the form of Lyall Bay, facing this way, the next landmass is Antarctica.

Total for the day: $0

I suggest using this route from Majoribanks Street to reach the summit and return to the city center. 

10 a.m. 

Popular for its voodoo vibe and delectable dishes, next stop is Sweet Mother’s Kitchen on Courtenay Place. While the menu offers an array of NOLA favorites, I suggest sticking with the classics to get an ideal of the cuisine and stay within the budget. Po Boy with a side order of Beignets it is.

It’s always Mardi Gras at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen. The cafe has a New Orleans theme that’s popular among the locals. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The southern-style Po Boy sandwich is pretty filling yet affordable and people will wait hours in line in New Orleans for tiny donut balls with icing sugar called beignets. These two items are sure to give you a good feed. But don’t forget a coffee to wash it all down. Wellington is known for its cafe and coffee culture, Sweet Mother’s Kitchen is a big part of that.

Total for the day: $NZ15

To reach Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, continue walking on Majoribanks Street, away from Mt. Victoria. Once you cross Kent Terrace, Majoribanks Street will turn into Courtenay Place and the cafe is just to the left. 

11:30 a.m.

While you might not want to move after your New Orleans-style brunch, there’s a giant squid to be seen and Maori culture to be learnt, it’s time to visit Te Papa. Located on the waterfront, one could spend days at the Museum of New Zealand, but  you only have two hours.

Learn about how the Maori people first discovered what they call Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Friendly staff at the visitors center can help you pick which exhibitions to check out. Make sure you learn a bit about Maori culture with displays like The Marae. Learn about the land, especially its fault line, at the museum’s Awesome Forces exhibition. Last but not least, see the only colossal squid exhibition in the world and learn about the mysterious sea creature.

Total for the day: $NZ15 (Yes, the museum is free!)

From Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, continue down Courtenay Place away from Mt. Victoria and make a right at Tory Street. You’ll see the museum at the end of this street. 

1:30 p.m.

With a lengthy waterfront walkway full of benches and grassy sections, you might as well skip the pricey restaurants here and have a picnic instead. Stop in New World, which is located just across the street and to the left of Te Papa, facing away from the harbour. The affordable kiwi supermarket has an array of fresh breads, dips, even sushi. While you could spend as little as $NZ2 on lunch here, let’s set the budget at $NZ10.

From New World, head back to Te Papa and start walking along the waterfront. I suggest having lunch on one of the plots of grass near The Boatshed which has a view of the lagoon. Another great place for al fresco lunch would be on the steps by the Civic Center.

With views of the city and the lagoon, this patch of grass by the waterfront is a great place for a picnic. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The waterfront has an array of things to do, from renting paddle boats to learning about the city at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea. But the nice thing about it is you really don’t have to actually do anything and most people don’t. Walk along the water, relax in the sun and enjoy the sights.

Total for the day: $NZ25

Te Papa is located on the water front, turn right upon exiting the main entrance to reach destinations mentioned above.  

3:30 p.m.

It’s time for another stellar view of the city from above, but don’t worry, you’ll be taking public transportation to this summit and the journey is half the fun. From Lambton Quay, purchase a return cable car ticket to the Botanic Gardens ($NZ6). This public transportation route dates back to 1902 and the iconic red car has been the subject of many post cards.

People still use it to reach various destinations along the hill, but most get off at the top to visit the the Botanic Garden. The 25-hectre garden contains native gardens, floral displays and more.

The Botanic Garden offers another great view of the city. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A few walks start at the top. Avoid the longer routes that lead you downhill. Try some of the shorter routes, look around the gardens at the top and take in the view. Once you’ve had your fill, catch the cable car back to the city center

Total for the day: $NZ31

Coming from Te Papa, reach the cable car by turning left just after Fergs Kayaks on the waterfront. Follow this road until Lambton Quay where you’ll make a right. You’ll see a sign for the cable car on the left of this road a few blocks ahead. 

6 p.m.

Head to Cuba Street for dinner. One could spend all day on this busy street, hopping from cafe to cafe. It’s a great spot in the city at all times of day, but the nightlife here is especially spectacular.

There’s an array of restaurants and cafes to choose from along here. It’s hard to recommend just one place for people on a budget, because depending on the night, one restaurant could have better deals than another. The good news is that most dining establishments along this road offer great food and atmosphere.

Tulsi on Cuba Street is one option for affordable dinner options. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Some places to consider for the best food on a budget are Tulsi, Fidel’s, Heaven Pizza and Hotel Bristol. Walking along Cuba Street is an activity in itself, so take in the city while you’re searching for where to eat and walking the meal off after. You can find a good meal here and one drink for under $NZ20.

Total for the day: $NZ51

From the cable car head back towards the waterfront on Lampton Quay and turn right at Willis Street. Make a left at Manner Street and a right onto Cuba Street. 

9 p.m.

Whatever is left of your $60 for the day can go towards the night. If you’ve followed my recommendations you’ll be left with $NZ9-10, which is enough to buy a beer, maybe two, or entrance to a gig.

Wellington has a great music scene including local and international performers. Like at dinner, it’s hard to recommend just one place to spend the night here on a budget as each night offers different deals. Capital Times weekly newspaper is a great source for this or you could just rock up to a place and check it out. Either way, I recommend sticking around Cuba Street.

San Francisco Bath House has great live shows and party nights. If a big act is playing there, don’t bother as it will be out of the budget, but sometimes entrance is free or under $NZ10. The Fringe Bar has comedy nights, karaoke and gigs. Bodega features live bands and a lot of times entrance is by donation.

Let the night take you where it will, which might even be all the way to 8 a.m. the next day. Now that would be an epic 24 hours in Wellington.

Total for the day: $51-60

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Cruising on the Interislander

Destinations, New Zealand, New Zealand, Road Trip

Cruising on the Interislander

2 Comments 03 February 2012

Those traveling all of New Zealand, not just the North or South Island will have to cross the Cook Strait either by plane or boat. Facing the added expense of both options can be a bit concerning for travelers on a budget.

Luckily, Interislander makes the crossing more than just a mode of transportation, but also a great activity to add to the agenda. Passengers can expect jaw dropping views through the Marlborough Sounds, onboard food and entertainment, maybe even a few dolphins swimming beside the ship.

While on a recent ferry crossing with Interislander from Wellington to Picton, I said a few times, “Now this is how to travel.”

Amenities

Interislander is set up similar to a cruise ship. It offers a few eateries, a bar, a movie theater, several lounges and viewing platforms, a children’s play area, a travel information center with a real live person on site to help book trips, VIP sections, even a lounge for truck drivers.

I boarded early in the morning and headed straight to the cafeteria for breakfast. At $12, the big breakfast was extremely reasonable considering how much airlines and ferries usually charge people for food these days. Expect your standard cafeteria food. Visit the cafe for better meals.

Big breakfast served on board. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

One of the ship’s dining areas. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The only other purchase I made was an hour or 40MB of internet at $7. I would only purchase it to do a few little things online, but I found the connection extremely good considering we were out to sea and in the middle of nowhere most of the time.

The majority of my time on board was spent either napping on the ferry’s big, comfy lounge chairs or on the top deck checking out the views.

Sights

The top deck was definitely the place to be on the clear summer day I traveled. Views are absolutely stunning sailing through the Sounds with massive mountains cascading into blue and green waters.

I was even lucky enough to watch a pod of dolphins swimming and jumping beside the boat. The captain who first spotted them, made sure to announce it to everyone on board.

A view of the Sounds from inside the ferry. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It seems like wildlife spottings are pretty common through the Marlborough Sounds too. All three times I’ve taken the ferry, each captain announced seeing dolphins. In fact, I’ve actually been on dolphin sighting tours that cost more than my Interislander ferry trip and didn’t give me nearly as good an experience.

Staff

A great interaction with the staff started as soon as we drove onto the ship. One of the staff members directing Ric where to park the car, pretended to be pulling us in on a rope while giving a massive smile. For me, it’s little things like this that always make a trip that much better.

From then on every member of the staff was extremely kind, even fun. The duty manager waited by the exit door bidding everyone farewell at the end of the journey.

Duration

Expect three to four hours for this trip. Those traveling with a car must arrive before final check in, which is usually about an hour before departure, but don’t worry about arriving much earlier than that, as you’ll just have to wait in line.

Ric having a nap during our trip. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Price

People can book through their website, at a ticket counter or through an agent. A single adult ticket with no vehicle costs $NZ52-$NZ75. For two people traveling with a standard sized vehicle, the price is between $NZ215 and $NZ330 depending on what kind of ticket you purchase and time of travel. These prices seem to have stayed the same the few times I have checked.

The cheapest option is a web saver reservation and these are a lot cheaper so it’s beneficial to book as early as possible as only a limited number of these non-refundable reservations are available. Interislander also offers promotions which may be worth looking into.

Thanks to Interislander  for sponsoring our ferry crossing to the South Island. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Wellington on a whim

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Wellington on a whim

6 Comments 19 January 2012

We arrived in Wellington cold, homeless and hungry.

Yes, five months ago we arrived in this city and it’s hard to believe how much has changed. We had no idea where we’d go or what we would see when we first arrived in New Zealand, but we definitely didn’t expect to make such an amazing home in Wellington. This is the tale of what brought us to the windy city and how it blew us away.

After about five months of jobless travel around Asia and America, we took a chance and headed to New Zealand on a working holiday visa instead of saving up at home. We didn’t have a choice really. Since Ric and I are from different countries, this was one of the few easy ways to stay together and work. Parting was out of the question.

So we boarded a plane for a long flight in early July. Destination: Queenstown, but not for long. Queenstown was our original arrival city, because-well it’s Queenstown; winter wonderland, extreme sports, lots of backpackers. Unfortunately, our arrival date was mid-ski season, making it hard to find work. Further, it had yet to snow in Queenstown that season, making it even harder to find work.

On the way from Queenstown to Blenheim in July.

No worries. Ric had a friend he met in Australia living and working in Blenheim. Biggest legend ever, not only did she let us crash at her house for a long time, but also sorted Ric out with a job before he even arrived.

We arrived at the small town in the middle of Marlborough, a huge wine region, and met our friend for drinks. While at a bar, I met a guy who worked in viticulture and he gave me a contact for a local vineyard looking for workers. Next day, I was sorted with a job.

We thought we made it. We thought we were going to be okay. We thought wrong. Family matters had me on a plane back to the States only ten days after arriving. I spent two weeks at home then was on a plane back to New Zealand. Talk about jet lag.

In that time, Ric was ready to leave Blenheim. It’s not the most active town, plus Ric wasn’t doing his passion, cooking, so he had enough. To add to that he had fractured his thumb, making him actually unable to work for a few weeks.

I arrived back in Blenheim with a choice. Either stay in the quiet town doing jobs that weren’t nessarily our favorite or make a move to Wellington, the closest city, and see how it worked out.

We went for Wellington.

It’s not a cheap trip either. Wellington is on the North Island and Blenheim on the South. People must take either a plane or a ferry to get to Wellington from the South Island because they must cross the Cook Strait, either way your looking at spending about $70.

We came to Wellington with one night booked at a hostel, hoping to find a flat, jobs and a routine in a day. That’s when things started to look up.

It was just me job hunting at that point. Ric couldn’t because of his thumb. I felt so much pressure hunting for jobs that day. Between contacting people on TradeMe and walking into places, I had about seven job opportunities within the first day of looking.

I remember sitting at a kebab shop on Courtney Place, nervous but excited about what would come in this city. The owner gave us one of those “buy-ten-kebabs-get-one-free cards”. I wondered if we would even last long enough in this city to get that free kebab.

Ric was in charge of finding us a room. He looked on TradeMe and Easyroommate. We had a few good prospects in just two days of searching. One room and couple looked like an especially good match for us. That night while I had a job trial, Ric looked at a room. At the end of my trial, I had a message on my phone that said, “Come home.” I grabbed my stuff from the hostel and hopped a bus to Mt. Cook.

Since we arrived so late, we didn’t really have time to make our new room comfortable. Our new roomies were nice enough to give us comforters and pillows, but they were covered in cat fur and Ric and I are both allergic. The room only came with a bed, which is actually quite lucky considering most of the rooms we saw came with nothing. We had to make it work though.

God that first night. The matress was so old that the springs had worn out, so Ric and I just kept rolling into eachother in the middle of it. On top of that we were sneezing and coughing all night because of the cat. I’m not writing this as a complaint, just as a funny note on how ridiculous that first night was.

The next day I did a trial at Fidel’s Cafe, pretty much a Wellington icon, and was hired. The next week we both organized our new room, sorting the bed out, using boxes as tables and dressers and putting some art up on the walls. The following week Ric found a job at Hotel Bristol and was hired to do what he loves, cook.

This little door can be found out the back of Fidel’s. I fell in love with it when I found it. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Leaving Wellington we are in a completely different situation. We both saved up a lot of money, met so many wonderful people here who were so welcoming, got to experience the World Cup in one of New Zealand’s biggest cities, beat our cat allergies (we both fell in love with the little guy) and we’ll even get to eat that free kebab.

Now that it’s time to say good bye to Wellington, I can’t help but look back on how we arrived and just give the city and all the people in it a massive thanks. I can’t speak on behalf of Ric, but I’ve never had a work place treat me so well and the people working there welcome me so much. We made a home here when we were literally close to being homeless. Everyone here was so amazing, it was a true realization of how kind the kiwi spirit is.

My favorite shot of Rondell, the best cat ever. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

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Typhoon rose at Botanic Gardens

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

Typhoon rose at Botanic Gardens

2 Comments 25 November 2011

Just when you think the gardens have ended, what looks like an exit gate is actually just an entrance to another set of gardens.

This past weekend Ric and I finally visited the Botanic Gardens in Wellington. Featuring 25 hectres of flowers, forest and more, the area is not just sprawled out over land, but placed above the city descending on a massive hill. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take a cable car up to the Botanic Gardens and walk down through them.

A ‘Typhoon’ Hybrid Tea Rose at the Botanic Gardens in Wellington, NZ. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

One of the most popular gardens to visit is the Lady Norwood Rose Garden. One rose I found especially impressive was this ‘Typhoon’ Hybrid Tea Rose. The rose has a radiant orange color in the middle that turns into a fluorescent pink at the edges. It was really beautiful to see in person and I hope I caught some of that in this photo.

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Is Wellington the windiest city?

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts

Is Wellington the windiest city?

4 Comments 21 November 2011

It sure feels like it today.

The weather report for for the last ten minutes on Monday, 21 November 2011 according to Met Service:

Wind: Strong

NW 56 km/h

Gust 87 km/h

The page also mentioned that Kelburn, Wellington reached a gust of 104 km/h today.

Basically one of those days you probably shouldn’t bother getting out of bed. I’ve never felt weather like this and it got me thinking about how Wellington ranks amongst other windy city’s in the world.

When in Wellington questioned the same thing and mentioned that it’s hard to tell, because there is no international governing body to comment on weather around the world. So I’ll just go over a few facts and let you decide.

For Starters, let’s compare Wellington winds to that of the windiest city in America, which is actually Dodge City, Kansas.

Eat your heart out Chicago!

According to USA Today, the average wind speed of Dodge City, Kansas is 22.4 kmh.

According to NZL 727 which features a collection os Wellington wind facts, Wellington wind averages 22 kmh annually.

Some facts about Wellington wind by New Zealand Guide Book:

“Average No of windy days = 199 per year
(Any day that has a wind gust over 34 knots or 63km per hour)

Average No of very windy days = 64 per year
(Over 52 knots or 96km per hour)”

My favorite comparison:

Mount Washington Observatory, a private, non-profit scientific and educational institution, in New Hampshire, USA reports a wind gust of 372 kmh across Mount Washington during a storm in April 1934. They write, “This wind speed still stands as the all-time surface wind speed observed by man record.”

According to “The Wellington Book”, a book about NZ’s capital city, “The strongest wind gust ever recorded was 248kmh in 1959 and 1962.”

Over 100 kmh difference in wind speed is a lot, but for a city to come somewhat close to that is pretty shocking.

The banner photo taken in Houghton Bay, Wellington in April 1992 was photographed by Ross Giblin. Learn more about the photo on The National Library of New Zealand website.

So what do you think? Have you experienced Wellington wind first hand? How does the wind here compare to other windy cities in the world?

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Wellington Harbor by night

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

Wellington Harbor by night

4 Comments 18 November 2011

Last night around 8 p.m. I walked up Mount Victoria for the first time. I’ve lived in Wellington for about three months, so that’s pretty shameful considering it’s one of the most popular things to do in the city.

Originally I thought about visiting the famous lookout point during the day, but when I mentioned it at work someone advised me to go at night as the view is absolutely amazing.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

He was right.

As the last bit of the day drifted away, this gorgeous fading blue sky came out. Black mountains surrounded speckled lights from the city’s nightlife.

At 196 meters, Mt. Vic is the highest point in Wellington. Originally named Tangi Te Keo by Maoris, it offers a 360 view of the city, it’s suburbs and the water that surrounds the city.

There are several pathways to reach Mt. Vic, which can be by car or on foot. It’s more of a challenge on foot though. Traditionally, people use the Southern Walkway to reach Mt. Vic lookout point, but a friend who led me last night took me on a more exciting path that went past a barbecue on a stairway and a secret garden, which we may or may not have been trespassing.

Have you visited Mt. Vic lookout? Share your experience and images below!

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All Blacks parade Wellington

Destinations, New Zealand, Other, Photography

All Blacks parade Wellington

2 Comments 26 October 2011

26 October 2011-A couple thousand people fill Civic Square in Wellington chanting “All Blacks, All Blacks, All Blacks.”

After a few introductions, the 2011 World Cup champions walk out just after noon waving to a slightly soggy Wellington crowd. A little rain and wind didn’t stop thousands of people from taking to the city streets to catch a glimpse of the world champs. This is the team’s third stop around the country after winning the World Cup against France on Sunday.

Parading from Civic Square to Parliament on flatbeds connected to Ford trucks, the All Blacks were all smiles as they greeted fans, signed rugby balls and posters and showed off the Webb Ellis Cup.

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