I awoke Wednesday knowing that my jaunt was coming to an end. I had to be in Wellington by 3PM or so to meet with my colleagues from partner companies and with the technical press from Australia. That, of course, is what had ostensibly brought me to New Zealand in the first place.
The weather wasn’t great and I was not loaded with time, so I decided to drive up the river for a bit into Whanganui National Park and see if I couldn’t rent a kayak and paddle around for a bit. So, I took off in my car to drive up the river.
The road, which was lovely as always, quickly became a small country road, with no painted lines and decaying pavement, and only one lane wide in many places. This was not the first time that I had underestimated just how rural New Zealand really is! Once again, there were charming flocks of sheep everywhere, with countless sweet little lambs that would run to their mothers every time I would stop the car to try and take a picture.
It became obvious pretty quickly that I would not be kayaking, so I drove up the river for an hour or so and turned around. I figured I would start to work my way towards Wellington, maybe take the scenic route and stop at a couple wineries along the way.
There is actually a full page advertisement in the Air New Zealand magazine, the title of which is “Allow Extra Time on New Zealand Roads”. The ad goes on to say “Roads in New Zealand might be different than what you’re used to back home…” Truer words were never spoke.
By the time I was approaching the wine country, I realized I was going to need to hustle to get to Wellington on time. And as I was weaving my way up the 1500 foot mountain pass to get into town, I realized I would be lucky to get there 45 minutes late! Which is about what I managed to do.
I had not heard great things about Wellington from other people and from various tourbooks, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find it a very charming small city.
Surrounded by water, with a vibrant waterfront and boating scene, active café and restaurant vibe, and interesting architecture, it was a great place to spend a few days. I dumped the rental car, met up with everyone, and started the “professional” portion of the trip – the details of which I do not intend to bore you with.