New Zealand North Island Final Day – Wellington

Day 8 – Final Day in Wellington

Hello readers!

It is the final day of our brief New Zealand trip. We woke up to a beautiful morning in Wellington. The sun was shining and the day was as ready for us as we were for it. We started by walking back down to Cuba street for breakfast. We stopped at a place called Best Ugly Bagels to get a coffee and a bagel (that we fell in love with in the US). The bagel selection here was fantastic. This place is really quirky and has a great atmosphere. When you make an order – the person taking the order yells it out and then all of the staff yell your order out. It is really unique and awesome. They probably get pretty sore throats by the end of the day, but it made it fun. Aimee got the Cream Cheese Bagel and Ronnie got the peanut butter. Both bagels were excellent and a great way to start the day.

(Best ugly bagels photo)

We went onwards to our next destination which was the Mt Victoria lookout. On the way to the lookout we drove through this massive long tunnel and during this we noticed that everybody was beeping their car horns. We thought they were doing it at us but it wasn’t just cars near us – but everyone! It was really weird but then as we left the tunnel – no beeping at all. This was very unusual so we decided to do a bit of googling. As it turns out a 17 year old pregnant girl was killed and buried alive in the dirt and was found when they were building the tunnel. You either beep the horn in tribute to the young girl or to ward away the ghost of the young girl which is said to haunt the tunnel. Needless to say on the way back we gave the horn a solid honking! 

Photo of Tunnel

The lookout at the top of Mt Victoria is quite lovely. You can see all over Wellington and the harbour area is beautiful in particular. It was windy, which is the case for most mountaintops. When we travel we will often go to lookouts above cities. We find that it is a good way to get a scale of the city and its location within the surroundings. Places like this offer unique views which are just beautiful and this was one no exception. A picnic on the grassy area at the lookout would be spectacular. If we ever make our way back to Wellington we for sure will be planning that.

Photo of Mt Victoria Lookout

Whilst we were on our drive we decided to go to Weta Cave. Weta cave is a free mini-museum where they create high-end sculptures and film props. These sculptures are amazing. Out the front of the museum they have a troll from Lord of The Rings which looks so realistic.

Troll pic

They also have gollum and a range of LOTR, The Hobbit and King Kong related sculptures that they used in the movies. The mini-museum itself is tiny but really interesting, especially if you are into pop culture. 

Gollum pic

The craft that must go into making these sculptures is intricate and exquisite. We have heard that they have some sculptures in the museum that we were going to next. We are excited to see those. There are also sculptures in the airports in New Zealand that have been created at Weta. Incredible.

Airport sculpture pic

Our next stop was the world famous Te Papa Museum. Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum. It is massive and stunning. The major exhibit (and the highlight) when we visited was the Gallipoli (The Scale of OUr War Karipori) which told the story of 8 ordinary New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances in World War I. This was one of the greatest museum exhibits that we have ever seen. The sculptures were made by Weta cave and were incredibly realistic. It was heart wrenching as well as being immersive and awe-inspiring all at the same time. 

Gallipoli picture

The rest of the museum had a lot of Maori culture as well as natural history and a ton of different exhibits. It was a huge and incredible museum. We would recommend that everyone who spends any time in Wellington must visit Te Papa. We love museums and try to visit them as often as we can. Te Papa is absolutely world class. Do it slowly and spend the better part of the day there. You will not be disappointed. 

Museum Picture

After the museum we drove up to the Carter Observatory. We didn’t realise it but the Carter Observatory is right near the top of the Wellington Cable Car which would have been good to try out but we weren’t able to. We still got the same view from the observatory which was another beautiful view over Wellington.

View from Observatory pic

Carter observatory is just what it sounds like – an observatory. The last time we went to an observatory was in Los Angeles at the Griffith Observatory which we absolutely adored. The Carter Observatory was another very high quality experience. They have a small space related museum which was fun and interesting. After that we went into the planetarium and watched the show. Again, just like the Griffith observatory it was so comfortable and so enjoyable to sit in the theatre and watch the show and listen to the narrator tell the story. I don’t think we could ever get sick of planetariums and will visit many more during our travels.

Observatory pic? Maybe?

After this we drove back to the accommodation and walked down to Cuba street one final time. We walked up and down taking in the sights and sounds before stopping at a place called Aroi Thai Eatery which was a pretty normal, but also pretty good Thai restaurant. We were pretty buggered from the big day so a casual dinner certainly felt good. We said our goodbyes to Cuba street (and NZ) to get to bed for our very early flight in the morning.

It has been quite the whirlwind trip. Usually our holidays are quite a bit longer than this but we had a bit of time and wanted to make the most of it. Upon reflection of the trip we definitely would’ve done some things differently. One of them is that we would have spent some time in Auckland which we left as soon as we arrived. That was a missed opportunity. We also would have planned in advance a few extra days in Taupo to ensure we got the Tangariro crossing in. Though there were some real highlights on this trip:

  • Waitomo Black Water Rafting experience 
  • Hobbiton tour
  • Te Papa’s Gallipoli Exhibit

These three things are absolutely must-do’s. All three incredible experiences that we would do again in a heartbeat and would recommend that a NZ north island trip is not complete without. 

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