We had a fun day yesterday, showing a stranger around our wonderful capitol city. I had been contacted by a blog reader from across the ditch in Oz, who was arriving in Wellington on a cruise ship and wondered if we could meet up. Of course we could, so we started off bright and early joining the commuters on the trip to Wellington. After a bit of a worry about where we would meet up, Sharyn arrived at the pick-up point on a shuttle bus – she had an advantage over us as she had seen our photos on the blog. Greetings over, we set off on our adventure.
Up, up, up we went, up the narrow winding road top the top of Mt Vic, where we had panoramic 360 degrees views right around Wellington City. There was a bus full of cruise liner passengers there ahead of us, as well as plenty of others milling about. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too windy at all. Sharyn had been warned about “windy Wellington” but we assured her we often get lovely calm days too.
With two quilters in the car, a trip to a quilt shop was a necessary evil. Robin did a great job of finding the Kilbirnie shop for us, then waiting patiently while we had a quick browse. The shop owner recommended a cafe for lunch, so that was the driver’s next quest. The Spruce Goose was somewhere by Wellington Airport, I told him. Hardly enough information really, and the Sat Nav was no help at all. But we drove along, and soon spotted it. It must be popular, I thought, customers were sitting outside on the sun deck, while others were walking through the door, all intent on an early lunch, like us.
As much as I would have loved a dozen new season’s Bluff oysters for lunch, sanity prevailed and we chose from the counter selection. Bagels with smoked salmon was a good second choice for the ladies, and Robin enjoyed a BLAT. This was a very busy cafe indeed, so that is always a sign that the food is good. A helpful young waitress did the honours and took a photo for us.
After lunch we took our guest of to Petone, where the first European settlers arrived in New Zealand on 22 January 1840, on the ship Aurora which carried 25 married couples, 36 single persons and 40 children. The locality was described as, "sandy beach, which is about two miles long ... bounded on either side by wooded hills from 300 to 400 feet in height, covered in high forest to within a mile and a half of the beach, when swamps full of flax and a belt of sand hummocks intervened." There was plenty of bird life on the beach. Oyster catchers were busily walking along, looking for something tasty to eat. And a group of red billed gulls were keeping a eye out on the comings and goings at the beach.
Sharyn was amazed at the steady stream of people, householders and several truck drivers too, stopping off at Te Puna Wai Ora (Spring of Life) in Buick Street to fill their containers with pure untreated artesian water from taps. The water originates from the Hutt River at the Taita Gorge and it has been naturally filtered through the alluvial gravels and sands of the Hutt Valley over several years. It is free, highly valued and consumers travel long distances to collect the water for drinking purposes. As Robin did, when he filled up a large container with water to take back home.
We took our time as we drove around the coast to Eastbourne, and related the sad story of the Wahine disaster which took place in April 1968, with a loss of 51 lives. Robin and I can still vividly remember that tragic day, with pictures of the ship stuck fast on Barrett’s Reef playing over and over again on TV. Many of the passengers, both dead and and survivors, were washed up on the rocky Eastbourne coast. The foremast from T.E.V. Wahine (Turbo Electric Vessel) now stands at Eastbourne as a memorial to the tragedy.
After driving around in such lovely warm weather, and ice-cream was in order, and Days Bay Pavilion in William’s Park was the next stop. We introduced Sharyn to the “world famous in New Zealand” taste of hokey pokey ice-cream. These were hard to eat before the ice-cream melted.
My mother used to relate stories of coming over to Days Bay as a young woman by ferry, and going down the giant slide in William's Park. Years later when I got to enjoy this park, the slide was long gone. So I was delighted to find some old photos of the slide hanging up inside the Pavilion building.
It was time to head back into Wellington and return Sharyn to her cruise ship, Dawn Princess. Sharyn was certainly enjoying her cruise, and was travelling with a group of like-minded ladies. Who wouldn’t enjoy life on board, with great food, entertainment, and rooms. There was plenty happening every day, including a daily newsletter, with plenty of information about the next port of call.
It was great to meet up with Sharyn and make her acquaintance. Guess this happens to other bloggers from time to time, who get to meet after exchanging emails for a while. What a lovely lady, and it was a real pleasure to show her around Wellington. As the song goes – you can’t beat Wellington on a good day!!