After leaving River Valley we had a couple of hours on the bus heading towards Wellington. We all loved our driver Diesel so spent most of the journey chatting away to him. Diesel was Maori so really knowledgeable about the NZ culture. One of the most interesting things he told us was the folklore behind the famous Maori war dance – the Haka.
Legend has it that a baby was born in Kawhia called Te Rauparaha. He soon grew up to become chief of the Ngati Toarangatira tribe and was a fearsome warrior who partook in many battles over the nutrient rich soil in the area. Te Rauparaha however wasn’t an angel and had made certain enemies in other prevalent tribes. One day he travelled to Tuwharetoa when the Ngati Maniapoto tribe got scent of him and chased him to get vengeance. The Ngati Maniapoto people were extremely spiritual and had certain voodoo powers which enabled them to track and locate people. Their plan was simple; to return to their tribe with Te Rauparaha’s head on a stick. Te Rauparaha, knowing that the Ngati Maniapoto people were on his tail fled the area and headed towards Motu O Puhi to seek sanctuary from the Te Wharerangi tribe of whom he was a distant descendant. He arrived at the tribe’s village and asked for their help. The chief of the tribe instructed Te Rauparaha to hide in the food pit (hangi) and the chief’s wife sat on top of the opening. The reason for this was threefold; in the Maori culture there is no greater insult than to have a woman belittle you – no self respecting tribesman would ever allow a woman to sit above him, this therefore was the perfect hiding place as no attacking tribe would expect him to be hiding under the chief’s wife. Secondly, it was believed that food had the ability to break any voodoo power, as did the power of the female presence which, as the creator of life, had sacred properties.
Soon the Ngati Maniapoto tribe arrived at the village. They ransacked the village in the search for Te Rauparaha however they didn’t find him as they did not think to search the hangi pit. When the Ngati Maniapoto tribe left the village Te Rauparaha emerged from the pit and performed the haka in celebration of the fact that he thought he was about to die but now he is alive. The Haka therefore translates as:
We made a quick pitstop on the way to Wellington at the cute little town of Bulls. This town was picture perfect with its cute bakeries, ice cream shops and stalls – it felt a bit like walking back in time. The town was previously called Rangitikei but when Mr Bulls became the town’s mayor the name was changed simply to Bulls. What’s more, Mr Bulls thought it would be funny to change all the names of the establishments so that they ended in ‘bull’. Nowadays, for example, the McDonalds is called ‘Consuma-bull’, the dessert shop ‘Satisfia-bull’, the town hall ‘Socia-bull’ and the museum ‘Memora-bull’ – it was hilarious!
We stopped in at the museum for a little nose – the owner was the sweetest man ever and loved showing us around. He even asked if we could hang around for a little while to have our photo taken for the town’s newspaper – so sad we had to get back on the road.
We arrived into Wellington at around half 6; it was already dark but we could tell from looking out the windows that it seemed like a cool city. We would be staying at Base hostel for the next three nights so we got checked in and sorted our stuff out. The hostel had a bar crawl along Courteney Street operating that night which none of us were particularly interested in – it seemed like something you would do in Malia etc. Turns out were pretty persuadable and soon found ourselves in the hostel bar, wrist bands on and loving life on the crawl…
It actually turned out to be a really fun evening and we crawled back into bed at around 3.30am.
The next morning was a bit of a write off after the night before but at around midday we made our way out and experienced first hand why the city is known as ‘Windy Wellington’ – it was crazy, the wind literally could have toppled you over.
We walked along the harbour and made our way across to Cuba Street which we had heard was the trendy area of the city full with cool shops and bars. We popped into a cute little restaurant called Soho Browns and cured any remaining hangover with the most delicious pizzas. Mine was chicken, cranberry, Brie and roast pumpkin. Oh wow.
After lunch we did a spot of shopping before boarding the famous Wellington Cable Car up to the city’s cliff top Botanical Garden. The views from up there across the city were beautiful! We spent quite a bit of time wandering around the gardens and managed to watch the sun set over the city.
That evening none of us wanted to do anything too, erm, strenuous. We popped to the supermarket, picked up the ingredients for a big stirfry and grabbed as many bags of crisps, as many pots of dip and packets of popcorn as we could. We set up camp in one of the empty hostel rooms, wrapped up in duvets and watched Jack on Netflix. It was such a nice chilled out evening after almost two weeks of non stop travelling.
The next morning we woke up feeling much better than the previous day. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside so we decided to climb Mount Victoria which apparently has the best views out across Wellington.
We were told that it was a ‘right of passage’ to climb the mountain. We didn’t think it would be that hard a climb – I hadn’t even had breakfast or my morning coffee! To be honest the clue really was in the name; Mount Victoria. Let’s just say there were a lot of moans on the climb (and not just from me!) It was crazy steep (!) – I would say almost vertical – and totally exhausting. The views at the top however made it completely worth the hike (kind of) and it’s always fun coming back down (I practically skipped down with my smug smile on).
After heading back down to earth we popped to Cafe Panama for lunch and a coffee – Brie and I split an amazing spinach and feta quiche.
After lunch we headed to Te Papa; the national museum of New Zealand. We spent almost 5 hours wandering the museum – it was incredible.
They had amazing exhibitions ranging from the Anzac War, NZ’s wildlife & climate, NZ modern culture and, my favourite, a huge exhibition on Maori culture. It was all fascinating – we could have easily spent double the time there. I particularly enjoyed the house that you could enter and experience an earthquake of 7 on the Richter scale.
When we left the museum it was already dark; we made our way across to the supermarket before heading back to the hostel and making dinner.
We then all headed back out towards Cuba Street and went to VK’s Comedy and Blues Bar where we watched an open mic comedy night. It was such a fun evening – particularly as some of the acts were a little questionable…
In the interval I was at the bar on my own when this guy came up and started chatting away to me. I hate awkward things like leery guys but luckily Brea came and saved me right at the perfect time. It wasn’t until the show started again that we realised that the guy at the bar was one of the comedians!! I sat through his whole set panicking that he would make some sort of comment about chatting up frosty girls at the bar…
At the end of the show we all headed back towards the hostel making a stop off at Wellington’s famous Little Waffle shop where we had the most delicious lemon meringue pie waffles – oh wow. I’m not even a sweet person but was completely sold.
We got back to the hostel and started packing up all our stuff for the early start the next day. Wellington was our final stop on the North Island. Tomorrow we would be boarding the four hour Interislander ferry to the South Island and our next destination; Kaiteriteri in the Abel Tasman National Park.