This was a fairly last minute trip to Wellington to meet up with some old school friends (most of whom I had not seen since I finished school) but of course I could not miss the opportunity to get a little exploring in.
I was focused on walking and after doing some investigation, I discovered that Wellington has lots of great walks not far from the city. It seemed fate that my accommodation (a private room in the YHA as I could not face a dorm or the extortionate price of the hotels in the city) looked out at the Mt Victoria lookout, so it seemed only right that as soon as I arrived, I changed and headed out.
I am grateful to say it appeared more daunting than it was, clearly my weekly hill walks are paying off. There were a few steep parts but in general it was a fair steady walk up to the lookout for a lovely view over the city. I went back down another way and ended with a lovely walk along Oriental Parade – along the sea front and little man made beach.
The next day I had decided to catch a ferry across the harbour to Days Bay. The area was initially the fortified Maori village of Otuamotoro, before being settled by George Day in 1841. It soon became a day trip and weekend resort for Wellingtonians and a wharf was built in 1895.
I was already starting to regret the idea as I was sitting waiting for the ferry, coffee in hand as an icy wind blasted around the corner and I was praying the crossing would not be too rough. 🥴 It was a pretty choppy crossing (took around 35 minutes in total) but rugged up in all my layers I was ok as long as I sat outside 🥴. I should note that it is mandatory now to wear masks on public transport – buses, trains, planes and of course ferries (always a pain for facial recognition on the phone 🥴) but despite that I was one of the few with a mask!
Most of the other passengers on the ferry got off at Matiu/Somes Island, the largest of 3 islands in Wellington Harbour. It has various walks with a great combination of wildlife, history and views but I didn’t really have time to explore this, and Days Bay so carried on. The sea got rougher on the last part of the journey, and I was glad to reach Days Bay – a cute little seaside village.
I had planned what I had thought would be a nice easy walk in the East Harbour Regional Park, part of a network of 5 regional parks established to provide outdoor recreation opportunities. Of course, the area has been popular with walkers long before the formation of the regional park – right back to the late 1800’s. It turned out, my easy walk through the mature beech and rata forest was more of a serious hike with some scrambling up the steepest parts and at times I was worried I would not make it back to the wharf in time for my planned ferry! Thankfully I did but was absolutely shattered and it was worth it for the lovely views from the walk and back towards the city.
Back on the ‘barf’ boat, (my personal name for it) and I was surprised to see that it had a bar on it (remember it was only doing a 35 minute journey) and a group of young people bought a bottle of sparkling wine and planned to drink it out of champagne flutes – they went to the top deck so I have no idea how successful they were in the very choppy seas 🥴
After a wonderful night catching up with old friends, I could not resist one last walk – this time up to the beautiful Wellington Botanic Gardens – it was a bit of a hike up the hill to start but then lovely walks and views from the gardens themselves. I loved the way they indicate the tracks with lovely insets in the pathways – I did the kowhai track for the views – past observatory’s old and new and gun emplacements.
I barely made a dent in the 25 hectares of gardens and pathways (some established 150 years ago) before it was time to catch the cable car back down. Another icon of Wellington dating back to 1902, most people probably would have caught the cable car up, but I am a glutton for punishment these days 😂! But catching it down meant I was back in the city in 5 minutes 👍🏻
It was great to see Tuis and Kereru in the trees around the gardens. The nearby native sanctuary of Zealandia has done wonders for the Wellington native bird populations. What a stunning morning for it.
Now to plan some more walks for my next visit.