Friday 12th September to Friday 19th September – Wellington to Blenheim

So I arrived in Wellington, collected my things and got a shuttle taxi to the centre from the airport.  I checked into "Lodge in the City" backpackers’, got some dinner and had an early night.

The following day I was sat in the garden having a cigarette and got talking to a guy called Paul.  He offered to show me around the city and we headed to the botanical gardens.  To get to the gardens you can either walk or get a cable car and we opted for the latter.  Although the cable car was more like a train on steep tracks rather than a cable car over a deep, beautiful chasm, it was cool nonetheless.  It also stopped at various points up the hill at "stations" for people to get on and off.  Apparently it was very much a functional cable car which people used to travel like a bus or tube and not just there for the tourists.  Infact there was a kind of cable car museum at the top which showed you that Wellingtonians (if that’s the right word) had been using the cable car as a means of travel for quite some time.  The botanical gardens themselves were pleasant enough but there was only one plant house.  I think I’ve been spoilt somewhat by the botanical gardens in Singapore which were something else.

After the botanical gardens we headed into town and went to a bar by parliament.  We looked at "the beehive" and other buildings around the city and headed out to a few more bars which then led to quite a late night around the city.

The following day I pottered around Wellington and soaked up the atmosphere in various cafes.  In the evening I headed to the garage closest to the backpackers’ to get some munchies and cigarettes and returned to the hostel to see a Police car outside.  I asked about this and was informed that it was a regular occurence as the Police had to check that people were in for their curfews.  When I walked inside there was a guy sat by reception who asked that I call an ambulance as he was having difficulty breathing.  After him disappearing up the road, locating him and the ambulance and returning to the hostel I vowed to check out the following day.

The next morning I checked out and checked into the "downtown backpackers’" which was opposite the station.  The place was actually really cool and was in a converted old building.  I would recommend it if anyone’s visiting Wellington.  In the evening I went out in the city and, somewhat randomly, met a girl who recognised me from Cape Tribulation.  I also went to a bar with a lot of very scary transvestites and left rather quickly after it transpired that they all seemed to want to kill me.

For the next few days I explored the city, pottered between cafes and tried desperately to find a good relocation heading to the South island.  The problem with this was that all the relocations were from the South to the North island and not in the direction that I wanted to go.  Eventually on the 18th I managed to find one and booked it for the next day.

On the Friday I left the hostel and headed to Petone which, somewhat oddly, was not pronounced "pet one" as I had assumed but "Petoni".  In Petone itself I posted a parcel home, was given ridiculous directions and eventually found the place where I was to pick the van up from.  I’m not sure what it is with New Zealanders and directions.  It’s similar to Australia in that people are so keen to help you that they give you directions even when they have no clue how to get to where you are heading.  Although it’s nice that people want to help it’s also slightly unhelpful when you end up in completely the wrong place.

When I got to the place where the van was the guy told me I could go and get it and bring it round to the office.  I nearly went back and said I couldn’t when I saw the thing.  When I booked the six berth van I was (unreliably) informed that it would not be as big as I thought.  When I saw the thing I thought I needed an H.G.V. licence to drive it, it was -huge-!  I drove the thing nonetheless, partly as I had little option in terms of escaping from Wellington, other than getting some shared bus or something.  I got to the port for the ferry crossing really early and headed to a small suburb of Wellington which had amazing views down over the city.  When I got back to the port a ferry had clearly just arrived and the car park was full which didn’t please me with my monster van.  I pulled into, possibly too tight, a space and the woman next to me was trying to reverse out.  I -was- close to the back of her car but, using my mirrors, I was able to see a good six inches of clearance.  Anyway, this delightful Kiwi chap, who she must have had the unfortunate pleasure of calling her other half, leans out of the window and says, "you nearly took the bloody tail lights off".  He then rather less politely asked me to move so that they could reverse out as his other half was obviously wanting to increase all the stereotypes about women not being able to manouvre vehicles, even when moderately sized.  I then managed to demonstrate that I was also inept after driving into a kerb several times as reverse was in a stupid place and then reversed at a funny angle.  I stopped and the delightful Kiwi guy decided to scream at me some more.  Having replied that, "I don’t think you shouting at me is going to help this situation", I looked to my left and Paul was doing a comedy hiding behind his jacket, i.e. I’m not with her thing which pleased me nearly as much as the Kiwi guy yelling abuse at me.  Needless to say I completed my manouvre beautifully and Paul didn’t get a lift down to Christchurch!

When I went through to board the ferry I was in line with a guy who owned a relocation company who came to talk to me.  He took it upon himself to then spend a lot of the journey offering me free drinks which he apparently got in the truckers’ lounge.  The ferry itself was slightly daunting.  I don’t particularly like driving even my car at home onto ferries so if you can imagine multiplying the lack of wanting to do that by around ten fold in order to encompass a mammoth van, you’d be aware of the extent of my concerns.  Helpfully the staff asked me to put it on a ramp which was so similar in size to the van that I couldn’t actually open the driver’s door.  The ferry crossing itself was fine and flat.  When I got back to the van I remembered that they had said to put my foot on the brake and I soon realised why as the entire section I was on angled itself to around forty five degrees so that we could drive off.  The relocation guy had told me about a nice spot up a mountain in Picton where people often slept in their vans.  I found the roundabout he told me about, started driving up the mountain and began to question if he had been winding me up.  The mountain was horrendously steep and there wasn’t another campervan in sight.  There was also nowhere to turn round on the very thin road.  Eventually I found somewhere almost big enough to turn my motor monstrosity around but hate to think how close I was to plummeting to my death when I was reversing the thing.  On the way back down I cursed him less as I saw one van parked up.  I decided to head out of Picton and ended up stopping in a lay-by where there were plenty of other vans, near Blenheim.

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One Response to “Friday 12th September to Friday 19th September – Wellington to Blenheim”

  1. Hey blog very nice! L’uomo .. Bella .. Amazing .. I will bookmark sito lavoro e prendere il feed anche …

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