I’ll be honest, I have no clue why Wellington is so windy, but the nickname does not lie. We stayed in New Zealand’s Capital for two nights, each one very different.
Disclaimer: I’ve actually put off writing this post because I was really bloody grumpy in Wellington (understatement). With so many noisy, not entirely pleasantly odoured people keeping me up all night, paired with some serious flu-like symptoms, I’m sure you can empathise! And if not, you’ll have to ignore this particularly grumbly post.
Evening Numero Uno
We arrived in Wellington in the late afternoon, having driven from the middle of nowhere – otherwise known as River Valley. There wasn’t much time left in the day for adventuring, plus I was starting to come down with something, so we just checked straight into our hostel. The Base hostel.
We had stayed in Base a few times already (in various locations) but this one was by far the most crowded. Hosting hundreds of backpackers, this place had managed to cram in as many bunk beds as humanly possible. There were literally 3 bunkbeds squished into our tiny room, all of which were touching each other in some way. Bearing in mind the room size would be considered small with just a single bed in it, they were not messing around. At $33 per person, you can bet that Nomad’s rake in a pretty penny. On the plus side, dinner was free (spag bol in their basement bar) though I’m not entirely sure why…
Unfortunately, when we tried to book in a second night the next morning, we got rejected. They were full. Not the first time this had happened, and certainly not something the Kiwi Exp prepares you for in advance. It was time to make other plans, and options were seriously limited.
Trip To The Museum
That first morning we split from our Kiwi pals and headed to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for the free wifi and delish carrot cake. I may have felt unwell, but at least my priorities were still intact!
We sat there for hours booking in accommodation for the remainder of our time in NZ. I would absolutely recommend you do this too, as it is such a nightmare not having a confirmed place to stay in an area you don’t know. If you need more convincing, wait until you read about our second night in Wellington…
Feeling much more comfortable with a plan in place, we headed into the actual museum. And boy, what a treat. We
ignorantly stumbled across the Gallipoli exhibition which is currently open until April 2019 and is absolutely spectacular.
The exhibition marks the Centenary of WW1, telling the unique tales of eight New Zealander’s, who are represented by giant sculptures. I cannot stress enough how astonishing these sculptures are. Not only due to their sheer size, but because of how incredibly realistic they are. The emotions captured through their facial expressions and body language is truly moving. Paired with the voiceovers of their stories, it is a totally immersive experience.
There are plenty of other resources and activities throughout the exhibition, and what with entry being free, you’re mad not to stop by. We spent so long in there that we actually weren’t able to explore the rest of the museum, and instead headed back to our friends.
I actually forgot to mention that it was also Chinese New Year! So, to join in with the festivities, we all headed out for a Chinese meal. It’s times like this when you realise the photos you didn’t take, and the place names you didn’t write down. But we live and we learn! All I can say is that the food was sublime but the portions were enormous. I easily could have split my main course and still had leftovers.
After dinner, we headed down to the waterfront where there was a fireworks display to celebrate. Overall, a lovely day.
Sadly, that lovely day did not continue into the night… Be warned, I’m about to give an uncensored and very unapologetic review!
Night Number Two
Rowena’s Lodge: A nightmare from the get-go. One of our friends had kindly booked this place on our behalf (that’s not sarcasm, it was nice that they booked for the group), however, when we arrived after our Museum jaunt to check in, the guy on reception claimed they had cancelled our booking…for no reason. Apparently, though, they had replaced us and were now full.
After a heated discussion with the manager (who FYI is a foul-tempered man with abysmal customer service skills), we were ‘allowed’ a room which was miraculously empty. Let’s note that there were 6 of us, so they clearly had space all along. Very bizarre.
We threw our stuff in the room and headed out for dinner pretty sharpish. This is not the kind of place you want to hang around. We actually ended up hauling all our valuables to dinner as there was no safe in the room and to be honest, the whole place resembled a crackhouse.
Returning from the aforementioned dinner as late as possible, we actually had to face our room. Every single one of us had to sleep on our towels because the bedding was so stained, and there were hairs visibly on the covers. Vom.
As if that wasn’t enough to turn your stomachs, I then had to deal with the bathrooms. On the way up, I discovered a huge Kiwi Experience mural – this had clearly been their Wellington hotspot back in the ’80s. I wonder what happened…
Anyway, I digress – the bathrooms. Unisex bathrooms, where the toilets don’t lock and the paper ain’t stocked. I didn’t even attempt to shower here but did find myself brushing teeth next to a guy who was only wearing a t-shirt. A t-shirt and not underwear? In a public place? Not weird at all.
Needless to say, it was not a restful night. Luckily we had to be up super early to catch the ferry over to the South Island, but still. That place haunts me. If you think I’m being harsh, read the TripAdvisor reviews ;).
All in all, I think you would need two full days to explore Wellington, but probably not much more. The museum and the hike up to Mount Victoria seem to be the top attractions, and we would have loved to fit in the latter. Maybe next time!