My journey south continued onto Wellington. I had arranged more wwoofing, this time with an older lady named Cathie. Cathie was like grandma to me, we sat in the garden each day drinking tea talking about the various plants and fruit that was growing so well in the garden. Cathie had an abundance of apples, lemons, pears and peaches which I could treat myself to daily. I spent a good 4 or more hours each day tidying the garden, removing ivy and also mixing up concrete for a big slab next to the compost bin. It was rewarding to help somebody with tasks they find hard to make time for or harder to do. Cathie spent most of her days involved with community groups and such, including a fundraiser event that included watching the film The Lady in the Van in the sweetest theatre in Petone (I was DEFINITELY the youngest there). Now Cathie’s place is situated in Lower Hutt, a little way out from the city centre of Wellington. This meant for a short train ride into the main hub which was actually great as it gave the illusion of crossing the water when daydreaming out of the train window.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. A compact city, it encompasses a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. Though sunny and mild most of the year, strong winter winds through the Cook Strait give it the nickname “Windy Wellington, it certainly lived up to it’s name. I soon realised that doing my hair ready to go out was rather pointless!
There is street art everywhere in Wellington, live bands playing along Cuba street, and the Weta Cave workshop and studios at Miramar were a real stand out experience. A humble team of exceptionally talented artists working on some of the biggest film and television series, most notable for their work on The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, Avatar and many others.
I was in a particularly good mood by this point in the day as I had found out that after much researching and applying for jobs that I had struck gold. I was now officially a tour guide at Hobbiton!
The news was VERY sweet, the only bitter taste being that I needed to head back up north from this city I was really starting to love, I needed to make my last night in Wellington one to remember. I had arranged to have a drink with a guy I met who worked for Weta Workshop- Gandalf’s nose? Yep that’s his hand’s that created that, among many other seriously impressive pieces. We drank lovely wine and contemplated what Cheerios were on the restaurant menu (turns out they’re cheap nasty sausages, not the cereal, sorry folks). We shared a love of art, and the night was rounded off with a walk up to a stunning viewpoint of Wellington. We’ve planned to see each other again.
It was time to leave Wellington and yet again my road trip lead me through some amazing scenery. I made a stop off at Kaitoke Regional Park, home to pristine rainforest and crystal clear rivers creating the magical elvish tranquility of this Lord of the Rings filming location, also known as Rivendell. It was certainly a beautiful site, the area was long since rid of its sets used for filming and all that marks the site is a carved arch and sign posts telling the viewer scenes that were films at certain points. This was all I needed, just a hint of what was, leaving plenty of room for imagination to kick in.
En route back up to Hobbiton I made a detour east to Napier. A national disaster resulted in Napier becoming one of the purest Art Deco cities in the world. On the morning of February 3rd 1931 a massive earthquake – 7.9 on the Richter scale – rocked Hawke’s Bay for more than three minutes. Nearly 260 lives were lost and the vast majority of buildings in the commercial centre of Napier were destroyed, either by the quake itself or the fires that followed. I spent more time in Napier than first planned mainly because I got on so well with Shontae who was letting my stay in her house for a few days. She was a really kind soul, fascinated in natural health and self healing and was busy planning her travels to Europe. We especially enjoyed eating curry and chatting! Simple things..