From Picton I caught the ferry to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. It was about a three hour boat ride, in which I discovered I get sea sick. For the beginning and end it runs along the coast and is very scenic but for the middle, where you can see nothing but water, I decided to stay warm inside the boat and read. Didn't take long until I thought I might lose my breakfast and went back outside which fixed it.
In front of the queue to get off the ferry
Wellington really isn't a huge city, something like 350k population, but the central business district is rather compact and surrounded by housing so it gives it a very lively and busy feeling.
Prior to showing up I asked on reddit (/r/wellington) for tips on what to do in town. A couple people even wanted to get beers so shortly after settling in at the hostel I met up with Leo, a born and raised Wellingtoner… uh, Wellingtonite? Anyway, Leo gave me the grand tour of the city (which as I said isn't that big) and we grabbed some beers. He caught a bus home around 11pm and I grabbed some late night food thinking it was about bed time.
Then I get a text from another Redditor, Craig (@craighamnett), saying his friends and him were going to a bar near my hostel. Well back out I go. I met up with him (a guy from England), his girlfriend (from Scotland), and another couple (from Memphis) and we wound up drinking until quite late. Craig is actually a front end developer here, which I thought was pretty cool. Talking to the four of them about how they all work and live here was a little inspiring and a tempting case was made for looking to do dev work here for a little while.
Was pretty awesome meeting up with a couple redditors, overall reddit has been the source of some good times here and a good resource for information on both bicycle touring and New Zealand.
So today I woke up feeling a little rough and headed to the McDonald's next door for some post-drinking greasy breakfast. After that I started following the other advice on the reddit post by checking out the city gallery, old bank arcade, Te Pepa museum and various parks and streets. Largely retracing roads Leo showed me yesterday.
Te Papa was one of the highlights of Wellington for sure. I was a giant national museum full of stuff like Maori history, history of the wildlife here and even a giant squid. I spent a few hours there and still feel like I rushed through it.
Also at Te Papa was the Game Masters exhibit that, unlike everything else, wasn't free. I wound up forking over to go.
The exhibit was centered around the designers responsible for the video games in our lives. For each one there were arcades, consoles or computers setup to play a selection of their games as well as information about them and art work or planning notes from their games. This was the first gaming I've done in 2 months!
From here I mostly just wandered town for a while, had dinner and relaxed. Wellington stands as probably the best city/town/etc that I've been in here. Small enough to be able to enjoy but big enough to keep it interesting. Set alongside the coast with mountains in the background give it good scenery. From what it seems, it also has a large percentage of internationals and surprisingly few kiwis, at least from what I could gather from Craig and his friends. If I were to stay anywhere I've seen so far, it would be here.