Yesterday consisted of a lengthy but pleasant drive from Rotorua down through the North Island to Wellington. Highlights along the way included beautiful Lake Taupo along with the gorgeous tree and limestone faced mountains to the west of the lake. The mountains are known as the Kaimanawas. South of there I entered a dessert area but to me it seemed more like a rain forest at the time. About an hour outside of Wellington the road opened up to an awesome view of the Tasman Sea. It reminded me a little bit of the Santa Barbara stretch along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Wellington is a really nice city. Homes seem randomly arranged and jutting out the hills and mountains surrounding the city. While appearing quite conservative (it is the capital after all) Wellington is not lacking for fun either. I had a few hours to kill prior to the the ferry departure so I wandered into City Centre — Wellington’s shopping district. All the shops are tastefully housed in what I would imagine are restored buildings from the early to mid 1900s. Certainly lots of character and the entire area is very pedestrian friendly.
As I was taking a picture of one of the buildings, a guy in an accusatory tone yelled to me that I was from Toronto. Turns out he recognized the label on my camera bag. Roughly my age, he left Toronto as soon as he graduated from college, moved to New Zealand and has never looked back. I can see that life in Wellington would be particularly nice. Its seems like a city very much built on a human scale.
Departure time for the ferry eventually came. We were rewarded with great views of Wellington as we headed out towards the Cook Strait. Rain greeted us as at the other end as the ferry meandered through Queen Charlotte Sound. Seeing the mountains through the rain and mist as dusk approached was a magical experience and reminded me of times in the Vancouver area.