We arrived in the capital city of Wellington on Monday evening after 11 hours on a bus traversing the North Island from Auckland. We had a small taste of the beautiful scenery this country offers. It sometimes reminds you of the Costwalds in England with sheep grazing rocky hillsides and other times reminds you of the Pacific Northwest with tall, green conifers and long winding roads that lead you to a fantastic, rocky coastline.
By the time we arrived at the only hostel in town with tent sites, we were out of luck. Sites full. So we opted for a small, dingy room with bunk beds. The price was right. We’re not sure, but there must be 60 or more rooms in the joint – some with beds for 6 or more. We’ve decided that there is definite money to be made in hostels – especially when you don’t have to pay for things like cleaning or general maintenance.
We spent Tuesday wandering aimlessly through the central city. Like Auckland, the central area of the city is not very big and can be easily covered on foot. We took in a few good museums. The national museum, Te Papa – which covers natural history, immigration, and the history of the Maori people among other topics – is especially nice. Interestingly, the museum is bilingual in English and Maori. We’ve both noticed the prevalence of Maori language and culture in every day life. (Probably easy to appreciate once you’ve taken all their land!)
We have yet to see any hobbits or elves, but we did see the Paramount Theatre where the Return of the King premiered. Another really great thing about New Zealand is that the mega theaters offer super cheap Tuesdays. Regular priced movies are even more expensive here than in the U.S., but on Tuesdays you can find many theaters with $4-$7 movies all day long. Not bad when it’s raining and you’re on a budget!