(February 18th 2007)

Missed a day yesterday but I have an excuse, honest. The drive from Taupo to Wellington took quite a bit longer than we expected. The guide said approximately three hours, but we decided to take a slightly more scenic route and it took us five and a half hours instead. I have to say it was worth it as we drove the desert road (a real desert not a pretend one) and saw Mt. Doom (from The Lord Of The Rings films). I know I said we’d run away screaming from any LOTR references as it’s so naff, but we couldn’t help it. We’re still not joining the Hobbit groupies on any of the special tours, but seeing Mt. Doom was pretty cool I have to admit.

So after a long drive we arrived in Wellington and although not a large city by our standards we still had to negotiate one way systems and small roads to find our hotel. When we finally found it, we were disappointed gutted. The hotel is being refurbished and was supposed to be finished by now. Needless to say it wasn’t. If you like old-school, 60’s style furniture and stains you’d love it (see photo at the top, it’s the one with the red roof). We didn’t. To top it all we were booked in for 3 nights!! Amanda and I went online and looked for an alternative and we’ve rebooked into the Bolton Hotel which is much nicer. We cancelled the remaining 2 nights in the Kingsgate and we slept much better for it.

Last night we had tickets for a Super 14 rugby game and watched our new adopted team (the Hurricanes) beat the Blues 23 – 22. Drank beer, cheered them on and generally had a great time. Then had the depressing thought of going back to the hotel, at the same time happy in the knowledge that it was our last night there.

This morning we checked out as fast as we could and drove into town (not far but quite a steep hill) and visited Te Papa, New Zealands National Museum. It’s a fantastic building and the museum itself is excellent. One of the highlights is the cafe which not only serves fantastic coffee, but homemade (or museum-made) food which is delicious and extremely reasonable (approx £10 for two meals and two drinks). Well worth a visit if you’re ever here.

After pottering around the museum for a few hours or so, we headed for the new hotel. I’ve gotten the hang of the street map so we found it pretty easily. What a difference! Valet parking, good staff, huge room with kitchen (and washing machine, dishwasher etc), two huge TVs and a DVD player, as well as a huge, very comfy bed. To top it all, it’s clean….result.

Check the photos page for Mt Doom and Te Papa.

More tomorrow, à bientôt.

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