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Published: February 1st 2018
The first impact
Our first full day in NZ was a busy one. We left the hotel about 9-30 and stopped for breakfast at Pandoro's near the docks area. We then went to Te Papa. This is a wonderful museum which we had visited before. Today the main attraction was a special exhibition about Gallipoli and especially NZ's part in the landings and the subsequent fighting there in 1915. The first room immediately confronts the viewer as it contains a giant figure of a soldier firing his pistol. These amazing statues are peppered throughout the exhibition. There were also interactive dioramas of the terrain and demonstrations of the battles. Not a huge number of artefacts but the confronting nature of the large sculptures certainly made this memorable. We spent over an hour looking through this and reading the stories of some of the NZ soldiers.We then ascended to the roof for a view over the harbour. Windy Wellington was living up to its nickname with a fierce gale blowing, but the vistas over the water were spectacular.
Leaving Te Papa we strolled along the waterfront. As in many other cities this has been upgraded and the once dingy warehouses are being rejuvenated and
One of the galleries
there were many pop-up shops and food stalls along the way. Some of the old buildings are now restored though I noticed that the old Customs House had disappeared. After an hour or so we turned inwards as it was now lunchtime and we found the Belgian Beer Cafe. Seeking only a light meal with perhaps a beer we entered. Here I chose some fish patties while Fletcher went for a chicken and duck vol-au-vent. Both were under either starters or light. We each had a Stella to wash it down. Thank goodness we hadn't ordered a main course as neither of us could finish what were delicious, but substantial serves. Fletcher did try a specialty beer, Le Fruit Defendu (forbidden fruit) which was tasty.
We then decided on our activity for the afternoon. We walked along Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, to the cable car station. Here we rode the cable car to the top of the hill. This device has been in operation since early in the 20th century but has been updated to provide a comfortable but short ride up a very steep slope. Once at the top we admired the sweeping views over Wellington
Model of Quinn's Post
harbour and visited the small cable car museum. Then we set out to walk back down through the Botanic Gardens. The path was very steep at times but the beauty of the flora was a delight to see. There were several sections along the way and we took our time stopping to admire the succulents, the Australian garden and the many varieties of trees. We paused for a rest at the TreeHouse which give an informative view over the lower part, identifying the trees beneath. Then it was down to the bottom of the hill, stopping at the duck pond, enjoying watching two small children feeding their bag of maize to the ever hungry ducks and the pigeons who tried to butt in. Further along we came to the Lady Norwood Rose Garden which had a dazzling variety of beautiful roses, many still in bloom. Within this garden was also a Begonia House with a number of beautiful varieties of begonias and to the right another glass house containing orchids and a water lily pond.
After a rest there we walked back to our hotel, along Lambton Quay and into Willis Street. By the time we arrived we were
both rather tired. My phone told me we had done obver 20,000 steps and had been walking for well over 2 hours. However after a couple of hours relaxing in our room we set out in search of dinner. Our Lonely Planet guide book had recommended Logan Brown as the "best restaurant " in Wellington and as it was a reasonablly close loaction we headed there. This is housed in an old bank building and the elegant interior and the beautiful moulded ceilings certainly exuded a pleasing ambience. We were given a quiet table at the back (albeit a party of noisy Yanks were next to us) and a very friendly waiter explained the menu. They have both a degustation and a la carte but in the true tradition of Les Chaines we went the whole hog and chose the degustation. And weren't we glad we did!! There were five courses and each was presented beautifully. My favourite was probably the Paua ravioli with a beurre blanc sauce and Fletcher agrees, however, all were delicious and the Clos Margueritte SauvBlanc was also one of the nicest wines we have had here.A lovely end to a very full day.
Wellington Harbour from Te Papa
Thursday we checked out from our hotel and took a taxi to collect our hire car at the ferry termnal. From here it was easy to get onto Highway 1 and head north. Fletcher felt comfortable to drive and we set off along the coastal highway which ,at times, skirts the edge of the ocean. The wind was strong but the rain held off. We drove past Paekakariki which we remember fondly from our trip in 1982 and soon came to the turn off to Waikanae. This is where Anne and Arthur Eustace now live and visiting them was the main reason behind this trip. We weren't sure of the number of their house so we drove into the town and located our motel, the Kapiti Gateway, checked in and used the WiFi to establish it was 440.. Then it was back to see them. How lovely to catch up again. Arthur is now 91 and has had a quadruple bypass so is rather frail but he is still able and willing to have a great conversation. Anne doesn't look any different and she was effusive in her welcome. She gave us a delicious lunch of Zucchini soup and lovely
At the Belgian beer cafe
fresh bread with chesse and rhubarb crumble to follow. While Arthur rested we had a game of Finnish skittles in the side garden (at which we were rather inept) and then Arthur joined us for a doubles match. Anne and I won the first but the subsequent game unfortunately had to be called off as the rain arrived.
Anne had booked us all in to the local cinema to see The Post. The movie theatre was very comfortable with sofa seats accomodating about 30 people only. We enjoyed the movie, a very timely reminder about the role of the press in America and then it was off to Maison, a local restaurant for dinner. This was very pleasant and we spent a lovely couple of hours reminiscing and enjoying the food. All in all a great reunion.
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