The sun was still asleep when we woke up that morning. According to the weather, Auckland was unlikely to see it all day but in Wellington, the city whose weather Kirsten and I had been warned about, was a different story. The early morning sunlight dazzled us when we touched down in the “Middle of Middle Earth.”
After dropping our bags off at the hostel, we wandered in the light, dazed from the beauty of the day (and the lack of caffeine). We lingered over toast and tea/coffee and watched as the capital of New Zealand slowly woke up.
The streets were still fairly empty once we stepped back out into the day. So we strolled along the shoreline, soaking in the beauty of the distant hills and the rocking boats. 10 am rolled around and Wellington finally began to stretch its legs and make some noise.
Having no predetermined plan for that day, we meandered around the enlivened streets, making decisions as opportunities presented themselves. The City Gallery opened its doors to us and we briefly explored its contemporary depths for free. Then back into the clean urban streets. We noticed that the main thoroughfares hid laneways much more orderly than Melbourne’s.
We continued on through the ordered urban crush and the sharp angled sun until a strangely shaped building loomed up in the near distance. Here was Wellington’s crown: The (affectionately named) Beehive. This 1970s structure with its round, dark walls clashed with the light and regal neo-classical columns of the Parliament buildings. But somehow Wellington made it seem natural and appropriate next to the governmental brains of New Zealand. Once again we were welcomed in, this time to take a free tour. So we spent a couple hours away from the sun in the small cambers of the kiwi government, learning about its inner workings and basic functions.
We were released back into the daylight just in time for lunch. After a quick Malaysian curry, we strolled through the streets once again. We were moving farther and farther away from Wellington’s bustling heart into its Victorian suburban arm. Grand old houses lined the road, peering down at us through laced trimmings and tall windows. We walked to the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Park and hung out a bit in the warm light amongst freshly bloomed flowers. We were thankful that spring had finally arrived in New Zealand.
Not wanting to abandon the weather after we left the small confines of the park, we headed back to the waterfront. It was mid-afternoon and everything was alive. Families and tourists, vendors and skateboarders populated the walk ways as the water sparkled in the sun. We sat for a while on the quay, watching the life and the light until a bagpiper came to belt out his tunes.
Farther along the waterfront we went, our backs getting toasty in the setting sun. We reached Clyde Quay Warf and knew we wanted to go no more. We strolled back to the hostel and chilled for a couple hours before heading out with our friend from the BU program once our stomachs grew empty.
As we walked down Cuba Street, it was as if the city and turned over to reveal its wilder side. Lights were on. People were moving. And it all seemed to center around the Friday Night Market. Dozens of food stalls reached deep into a narrow alley. Crowds squeezed past each other to look and smell the dumplings and roti wraps and noodle bowls and French crepes and Chinese crepes and fusion tacos and African curries and fancy churros and much more. Two different singers cut into the rush and we quickly separated to make our dinner choices.
Poor Kirsten became nauseous from something she ate earlier in the day and left early. So our friend and I end up sitting next to the speaker with our various tasty choices, listening to her belt out covers with a stunning voice. The nightlife side of Wellington was just coming out when we walked back, but we were both the day and we knew that Wellington would be with us tomorrow.