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Friday 5 Mar 2004
Wellington, New Zealand

At the capital

Ive arrived in the capital, Wellington, about 5 days in advance of my due departure date on the ferry to the South Island. This ensures that I wont risk getting stranded on the North Isle due to flooding (which I think has subsided now, ironically!) and also Ive really seen all that there is to be seen in the North - though bearing in mind that I couldnt really DO all I wanted, in reality Ive just BEEN everywhere there is to be!!

This follows what most visitors have told me about New Zealand: the North Island has a few nice spots, give it at most 2 weeks; the South Island, though, is where you should spend at least 6 weeks!

3rd March

I forgot to mention that I found a great way to get a free shower while you camp at Tongariro Nat Park: at the end of the Whakapapa Village, before the climb up the volcano road, there is a last caravan park that charges about 15 dollars a night or something!... Its not possible to walk in the front since the office looks out onto the road, but there is a convenient back access a little further up the road where you turn right for a walking trail. Nice!

Today I ventured eastward and after 3 hours I arrived at Napier. The main attraction in this town is the "Art Deco" 1930s style architecture and murals... basically a lot of pale mangoes, sky blues and pink shop fronts adorned with Spanish Mission-inspired decorations.. Miami is supposed to be similar.

The weather wasnt great, and it was getting late, so I decided to find a camp spot in town. I soon found one at the car park looking out onto the bay, down a bit from the Tourist Info shop. The Tourist Info place also had a shower facility so it made it a very handy location.

4th March

Took a few hours to explore this town today. Again the skies were dull which didnt really make the colours stand out on the architecture. After about 2 hours, it was getting a bit mundane and the Art Deco stuff was only really apparent on one or two streets - and only on the second floor of the shop-fronts, the lower parts of which had been modernised. Still it was worth visiting to say youve been there!

Headed off soon afterwards, towards Wellington. I passed by a famous location of which I dare not write its name since its recorded as the "Worlds longest placename!" in the Guiness book of world records. It took a bit of finding all right, but the AA roadsign which spells the name was a worthy photo opp.

After 4 hours driving I eventually arrived in the Wellington Region... As I neared, I drove over some amazing mountain ranges, with spectacular views. The mountains down here are much higher and grouped together in a range. They appeared suddenly on the horizon and it felt as though they were preparing me for what lies ahead in South Island! Pretty awe-inspiring stuff.

While searching for a DOC campsite, I soon found it down a dark windy road about 25km outside of the city.. but it was CLOSED at dusk!!! Thats a first! Usually these places dont have gates...

Anyhoo, I drove on a little further and just decided to camp out beside the road which proved to be grand.


Went back to the camp site this morn (OPEN this time!) and found they had hot water showers! Nice!

The camp site is on the Coast Rd south of Wainoumata (or something like that) which is a suburb of Wellington.

Righty, well here I am.. Wellington is a bustling little city.. reminds me strongly of northside Dublin city for some reason.. its apparently got some great museums too so Ill start exploring and see what I can see..

Also being stuck in Wellington for the next few days, as I am, will give me an opportunity to process and put up some of my NZ photos... so wait and see...

...and going completely off topic...

thought Id put in a quick mention for the VEGEMITE in New Zealand. Its very much been a part of my lunchtime diet for the past year (I use it instead of butter in my sandwiches..yum!) and Ive developed quite a taste for it. Because of this Ive discovered that *SHOCK HORROR* the New Zealand one is actually BETTER TASTING than the Oz "original"?!? Its made by the same company but seems be a touch more palatable and milder... hmmm.. the things that DO amaze me eh?

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