Day 7-8: Windy Welly – shower quest and coffee indulgence

Heralded by Lonely Planet as “the coolest little capital” Wellington really is little and cool and also very proud of its title. On a bad side, it’s infamous for the weather. Its strong winds try to pull heads off and heavy rains come and go as they please. At least that’s what we heard. I think the two days we spent there were an exception from the rule, because the weather was glorious. It was warm, sunny and scenic. Judging from Wellingtoners’ excitement we must have picked the only two sunny days of this year. Hallelujah!

Overly excited from the heat and high on coffee, we explored quite a lot of this little capital. It only has a population of 200,000 and is a size of Sydney’s three suburbs, so being a tourist there was not too overwhelming. After all the main purpose of our visit was trying Wellington’s famous coffees and visiting a few galleries. We weren’t disappointed with neither.

We spent our mornings in funky coffee shops and afternoons in museums and galleries. For all the coffee lovers out there, Midnight Cafe on Cuba Street is a killer. We had to restrain ourselves, because their coffee and toffee cake with yoghurt were so delicious it was too easy to gobble them up in two seconds. Add cheerful folks behind the bar and groovy interior and you have a perfect cafe… at least for our taste. Hangar was another cool cafe with good beans roasted there and a pleasant vibe. What’s more it seems only locals know about it because we didn’t come across any German backpackers there (I’m not picking on Germans, they are just a majority between us travelers).

High on caffeine and sugar we educated ourselves on NZ art, history, nature and geology in Te Papa museum and The Dowse gallery. The Dowse was a slight disappointment, but Te Papa is a must-see. It’s NZ best museum and we understand why. What a great space. It’s like a visual playground. You hop on a map of NZ, shake in an earthquake simulation and participate in settlers history. So much fun.

Everything in Wellington went smoothly, too smoothly I shall say, and we suspected that there was a price to pay for that fine weather and joyful time. The catch was shower. We kind of assumed that public showers would be easy to come by in a city like Wellington. We couldn’t be more wrong! After a couple of nights on the road we were dying for a shower. We didn’t have high expectations, even a shower on a beach would do, the problem was that there weren’t any. We heard that ferry terminal and the airport had showers, but it wasn’t true. It was getting dark and we were driving around the city getting more and more frustrated, when we spotted a little hut on a coast with changing rooms and… miracle… showers! Never mind water was ice cold even for my Polish standards. It got cold outside when the sun went down, but after that freezing shower it felt like 30 degrees. Only the day after we discovered by chance that Botanic Gardens had free showers next to a cricket ground. And the showers were hot, oh so hot! What a joy!!

Smelling like vanilla ice-cream we headed to Mt Victoria. There was no better way to close our visit to the little capital than watching the sunset over Wellington and its hilly surroundings. We climbed to the top with our precious bottle of Chardonnay from Martinborough, looking forward a romantic evening. Yet when we got to the top our jaws dropped. There were more people there than on Bondi Beach on Sunday afternoon. Ok, it was Saturday and it was a beautiful evening, but we couldn’d believe all these people just came to watch the sunset. We went over to a service guy in an orange vest to ask what was happening. He gave us are-you-mad look and said “Guy Fokes Day, the fireworks are meant to start soon”. Awesome! No chance for a glass of wine in privacy, but hey the fireworks were quite amazing. Thank you Wellington City!