the last day in Wellington

TUESDAY, 22nd November

Seemed that I had already seen everything what there was to see in Wellington, but it wasn’t quite true. I hadn’t seen some important buildings, like Wellington Cathedral, where a few days later Big Runga would have a concert, but I wouldn’t be there anymore.

or important trees, like the gumtree, which was on Hill Street near the Anglican Cathedral and on the way to the Catholic, Sacred Heart Cathedral.

First I thought they were buttons, but when I looked closer, they were chewing gums.

I really loved Old St Paul’s Church. It didn’t look very special from the outside, just another small chapel.

But I was amazed when I went inside: very intimate, wooden beautiful small church. If I were to get married, I’d love to have a wedding in a church like that one. It became even more special, when I read that Bishop Selwyn, New Zealand’s first Anglican bishop and one of the founders of Old St Paul’s, is buried at Lichfield Cathedral in England which I visited at the beginning of this year.

This photo doesn’t give the sense of intimacy inside that church. It’s really lovely.

Government old building. It looks like made of stone, but it’s actually made of timber. They used kauri and you can go inside the building to take a look. In front of the bulding, there’s a statue of Peter Fraser, New Zealand Prime Minister, who invited Polish children to his country in 1944.

Old Bank Arcade on Lambton Quay is built on the site of the “Inconstant” ship or rather what has left of it, known as Plimmer’s Ark.

The ship used to belong to John Plimmer who has been also called the Father of Wellington. There’s a statue across the street when you leave the Arcade.

I had an interesting meeting by the Ark. When I was taking pictures, I heard someone speaking Polish! After 3 months of travelling I finally met someone from Poland randomly ‘on the street’! There were two women and a young girl and as we started talking I found out that the girl was the young woman’s daughter and the older woman was her aunt visiting her. She was equally happy to have met me and said there were more of ‘us’ in Wellington. She gave me her e-mail address and said we should keep in touch. Awesome, fresh immigration from Poland not connected with the kids from 1944!

My last day was almost over. I had one more meeting, this time with my friend from Ireland. She’d just moved in. We went for a coffee to Enigma Cafe on Courtenay Place, then had a last stroll up and down Cuba Street and at Civic Square. There was one more thing I wanted to see. On the side of the Square, near the Library there was a fountain gifted to Wellington by De’s uncle, David Gibbs.

We went along the waterfront to the Railway Station. I showed A. more important places on the way and bragged about my knowledge of the city. 😛

Good that she was with me when I was leaving Wellington and going back to Porirua. If I were alone, I’d get too melancholic and probably melted down.


MONDAY, 21st November

“Sto lat! Sto lat! Niech żyje, żyje nam!…” This is what I heard waking up on my birthday in New Zealand. D&De came into my bedroom singing Polish “Happy Birthday” and holding a birthday card and beautiful roses from D’s garden. After wishing me all the best, De. went to work and D. brought me breakfast to bed. It was really unexpected.

The weather wasn’t any better outside than I usually have on my birthday in Poland. It was cold, rainy and of course windy. But it got rapidly better early afternoon and for the rest of the day it was hot and sunny. Crazy weather.

For lunch D. took me to the centre of Porirua town, which was like a big shopping centre, but there was also Pataka Museum of Arts and Culture. We had lunch there first and then went to see the exhibitions.

I couldn’t take photos in the rest of the rooms, but my favourite exhibition was with Grahame Sydney‘s landscape paintings.

After the visit at the Museum we went shopping. I was trying to get used to seeing a Christmas tree and beautful sun outside.

Then we went back home and I made ‘pierogi ruskie’ – potato-cheese pierogi, but because I couldn’t find ricotta cheese with Polish white cheese consistency, I used feta and it worked really well! For dessert, I made chocolate cake. When De. came back from work, while waiting for dinner to be ready, he played me some vinyls he had bought from a music store which was getting rid of all the older records and they were selling them very cheap. One of the songs he played for me was Dr. Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother”. I remembered then Luke’s singing to me and his suggestion to look for songs with my name. I’ve found Eurythmics; “Sylvia” so far. Anyone else knows a song with my name? Are there any songs with your name?

I spent a great evening with my friends. That was all I had wished for and I got even more. And I made so many pierogis that we were eating them for the next two days.

Time Cinema

SUNDAY, 20th November

I had let my friends from Porirua, D&De know that I was back in Wellington and they were happy to invite me again to their home. I stayed at their place till Wednesday.

Before they picked me up in the afternoon, I had some time for myself, so I went to the Museum of Wellington City & Sea. On the way there, I passed Civic Square with The Occupy Wellington camp.

De. had told me they would take me to a place that tourists usually don’t visit, because they simply don’t know of that place. When their friend bought a house, there was a big shed in the garden. He thought it would be a good place for a theatre, so he created Time Cinema about 30 years ago. It’s somewhere in Lyall Bay in Wellington.

There was a pianola

A huge roll of “LOTR: Return Of The King”

There was an anusual collection of everything

I used to have some of those models

A whale bone

The name of some place in New Zealand, on the North Island, I think.

And the screen room

He doesn’t play contemporary blockbusters, but old black and white movies supported with some commercials from the 50’s or 60’s and short films with Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy. That time after a tea and biscuit break, we watched “A Night At The Races” with Marx Brothers. My favourite scene. Classic! 😀

If I had a big house, I’d do a similar thing with one of my big rooms.

Fly My Pretties – my own birthday present

I started celebrating my birthday on Saturday, even though it was on Monday. I had bought a ticket for the Fly My Pretties IV show before I came to New Zealand. The ticket was pretty expensive, $91.50, but I could have never hoped that they would play when I’m in New Zealand, so as soon as they announced their tour dates and I saw their Wellington concert was close to my birthday, I thought it would be a nice present for myself.

SATURDAY, 19th November

The concert was in the evening and I didn’t want to go wearing one of my t-shirts. After breakfast I went to look for something nicer to wear that evening. There were many second hand shops near Cuba Street and even The Fringe Bar was open for vintage clothes market. I bought a black shirt for $4 and a pretty dress for $20. I wore the shirt, because my burnt in Kaikoura shoulders weren’t ready for the dress yet.

Doors were open at 7 pm and the show was to start at 8 pm. They were late about 20 min. I had heard that Jemaine from FOTC was in Wellington and I was wondering if he would came to the show. Just in case, I was looking around before the show and during the intermission and to my surprise, I saw Bret instead! I knew he had been in the US for The Muppets premiere a few days before and I was happy to see him already back in New Zealand.

The concert was amazing. I was sitting in the third row. We couldn’t take any photos, but there is a great set in FMP’s facebook album, so take a look.

Every new project by Fly My Pretties is something to look forward to, because it’s a great collaboration of different New Zealand musicians with various musical background and the result is always unique. The shows are recorded and a few months later there’s a new album & DVD released. Now you can understand why I was so excited to be part of their history and at the show, after first two songs I finally realised that I was watching FMP live!

Part One was a set of 16 new songs which will be on their new album released in February next year. I had my favourites, mostly more peaceful ones like “Apple Heart” by L.A. Mitchell, “Three Feathers” by Amiria Grenell or “I Am Gone” by Flip Grater. But the most important song for me was Barnaby Weir’s “Journeys End”. I took it very personal. I had been away from home for four months, had spent three months travelling around New Zealand, just got back from the South Island and was wondering what next and when Barnaby introduced his song, I thought he was talking to and about me. I got the answer.

During Part Two they played songs from their previous albums. It’ll be always my dream to hear “Champion” or “Quiet Girl” live and it didn’t happen at that concert, but I was almost equally glad to hear “Old Friend” or “Lucky”. It was also really nice that they sang “All The Goodness” which was co-written by Bret McKenzie and since he was in the audience, I was wondering how he felt hearing it.

The concert finished at about midnight and I rushed to San Francisco Bath House, because Flying Nun had their 30th Anniversary Tribute Show and some bands played tribute songs. The Phoenix Foundation was one of them and I was wondering what songs they had chosen, but unfortunately by the time I got there, they had already finished playing. It was a short set of four songs and an enchore. But the band members were still around in the bar, so I got to talk to some of them and said goodbye. Luke, before he left, sang me a few lines of Pulp’s “Sylvia”.

I didn’t know that song, and he made me feel special. And he didn’t know that I was celebrating my birthday, so even it was so random, I took it as another birthday gift. Then I got long hugs from Richie and Tom, finished listening to Glass Vaults and went back to the backpackers. Satisfied.

ferry back to Welly

I’m back in London fighting with sleep and will give up as soon as I post this entry.

I thought I should finish the story. Will it have a happy ending?

FRIDAY, 18th November

The bus from Christchurch to Picton via Kaikoura was late, but when I saw the driver, all was forgiven. Graham jumped off the bus and asked me “No pie?”, so I was kinda obliged to go and buy one, since we had still some spare time before the departure. I tried a seafood pie, which was really good with pieces of crabs, shrimps, but I didn’t like the mussel bit.

I was really happy that I could take my last trip on the South Island together with Graham. It was our 4th ride and just felt right. The road was along the coast and it was so beautiful. We passed seals playing in the Ocean or having a rest on the rocks. There were many road works on the way, which were making the bus late, but I trusted that Graham would get us safely and before my ferry to Wellington departs.

The vineyards of Marlborough

We were late about 20 minutes, but it was early enough to board the ferry on time.


Awesome weather for passing The Marlborough Sounds and Cook Strait.

When we were getting closer to Cook Strait, it started to rain.

Goodbye, the South Island!

Hello, Wellington!

After getting off the ferry and going out to the streets of Wellington, I got a headache from the noise of the traffic. I wasn’t aware how quiet the South Island was until I left it. That was the only moment when I didn’t like Wellington.

I took the shuttle from the terminal to the Railway Station and from there I went to the backpackers. This time I stayed at Lodge in the City on Taranaki Street; only $15 for a bed in a 10 bed dorm room. It wasn’t very tragic, but the kitchen was a real mess and it was a party hostel. I went to find some peace in the library, but when I came back in the evening, no one in the dining room was eating. They were drinking. When I went to bed, there was only one more person sleeping in my room, the rest of the guys were somewhere on Cuba Street.

from Wellington to Nelson

THURSDAY, 27th October

My South Island adventure began early morning, when a shuttle from the Railway Station platform 9 took me to Wellington Ferry Terminal ($2). I took the Interislander ferry as one of my flexitrips. I had been advised to choose a nice day to take a ferry, because the passing of Cook Strait may not be so enjoyable during strong wind and bad weather. But I didn’t have much choice and was happy to see that there was no reason to be afraid that I could get seasick.

I didn’t even notice when we left the terminal, so gently the ferry started its journey. It wasn’t sunny, but I could still see the hills surrounding the capital city. It took one our to leave Wellington Harbour. Miramar Peninsula on the left

Then one our to pass Cook Strait, which wasn’t that exciting, so I took a nap. Finally, the last hour was through Queen Charlotte Sound and getting to Picton.

When I left the terminal in Picton, I found my bus to Nelson already waiting at the bus stop. It was about 12 p.m. I left my big bag in the bus and I asked the driver when he was leaving. I clearly remember him saying 12:30, but I should have looked into my notebook anyway. I went back to the terminal to the toilet and look around. When I came back to the bus stop at 12:20, my bus was gone! Great, I thought, this was a nice beginning. I already started to hate the South Island. I looked into my notebook and saw that my bus was supposed to leave at 12:15 and it did. Why would the bus driver lie to me?! A cruel joke or I don’t understand Kiwi accent on this Island.

Anyway, I tried not to panic and went to the Visitor Centre to ask when was the next bus to Nelson, because my bag was already on its way there (seriously, it started its own journey; it’s big enough to do it 😉 ). A nice lady at the Centre showed me the timetable and she was worried about my reaction. Friday, 6 p.m. Did it mean that I would have to wait one day to get to a town 2.5 hrs away?! There was really NOTHING to do in Picton! Besides, I had already booked a hostel in Nelson and my bag was about to arrive there without me. I didn’t want it to feel lonely. Another option was a shuttle, but its driver had gone to Australia for a couple days. The lady called InterCity to ask if there was any way to contact my bus driver and find out what would happen to my bag. They told me he would leave it at Travel Centre in Nelson, but I wouldn’t get my trip back. Excellent, my bag started using my flexitrips. It better buy its own pass! Has anyone got a suggestion how to name my bag?

I had no other choice but to hitchhike. I thought if not locals, then maybe other travelers with a car could take me. I could even wait for another ferry and another flow of tourists. The lady got even more worried when I told her my plan, but she gave me a map and told me where would be the best place to get a hitch. I thanked her and off I went enjoying some sun on the way.

I didn’t have to wait long before a car stopped or rather… prepare yourselves…. A truck! When I saw it coming, I didn’t lift my hand, but it stopped anyway and the driver gave signs asking if I needed a lift. I opened the door and said that I had been told not to travel by trucks. He asked, why and I replied that truck drivers are dangerous. He laughed and so did I. He was a great guy and travelled a lot himself around the world for 10 years. He shared his stories, I shared mine and even though it wasn’t on his way (he wasn’t going to Nelson), he left me on a more convenient to me intersection where I would have a better chance of catching another car even straight to Nelson.

Soon after I got off and waved goodbye to the driver (he horned, so cool!), a car with two Chilean girls stopped. They had arrived in Picton the same ferry as me and rented a car from there. They were doing the South Island in two weeks and so it happened that their schedule was similar to mine but with more places to see on the way, since they were having a car and in shorter time. We exchanged our phone numbers and from that on, I could forget about booking InterCity buses for the next couple days. There were only 2 flexitrips left on my pass, but I thought it was better to give a couple bucks more on petrol and car and see more places in an interesting company than to buy more trips and travel in a company of my bag, which sometimes abandons me anyway.

OK, Nelson. I got there at about 3:30 p.m., one hour after my bag. I went to pick it up from the Transport Centre, found my hostel, Shortbread Cottage Backpackers, which was really good, had nice homely atmosphere, more Germans and some Asians. Oh, and FREE INTERNET! 😀

It was still sunny and fairly early, so I went to explore the town, even though I was really tired (had to get up after 6 a.m. to catch the ferry). I liked Nelson. I think it could be in my top 5 favourite New Zealand towns, but I’ll have to wait to give the final judgment. There are still some towns I haven’t seen yet.

Some trees and water had their ‘sweaters’ or statues had scarves.

Christ Church Cathedral

View from the hill, very futuristic clock tower of the Town Hall far in the distant

Cute old cottages on South Street

Am I still in New Zealand?!

I guess so… Centre of New Zealand on a hill in Botanic Gardens

I got back to the backpackers very tired…

Victory Parade

I left Auckland on MONDAY and spent 11 hours on a bus to Wellington. This time we had a boring driver, so no fun at all. But I knew the route and was ready to take some better photos of Lake Taupo

and Mt Ruapehu

Seems like the best weather is when I sit on a bus… In Wellington I experienced the wind the city is famous for. When I left my bag at the hostel (this time I stayed at Downtown Backpackers, opposite the Railway Station; a good one, recommend), I went for a walk and to buy something for breakfast. The day after the win, the streets of the capital were almost empty. It was a public holiday, a Labour Day and not many bars were open. Probably people were hiding from the wind in their homes. There were moments when I just couldn’t walk and was being pushed back. When I was waiting for the green light on traffic lights, I had to hold a sign and when I finally got the green, I couldn’t walk. The cars were waiting and I was standing too, because the wind was pushing me back and I couldn’t cross the street. I gave up fighting and crossed it when I was ready. I had to get to the hostel, right?! And I did get there, but very tired.

The next day, the wind was less stronger. I stayed at the hostel till about 2 or 3 p.m. to plan my trip around the South Island and it took me some time. Thanks to H., who gave me her top 10 must-sees, I had some marking points to plan around.

In the afternoon, I went to the library, but I couldn’t get the connection with the Internet, probably because of too many people using it or because of the wind, so I went to Midnight Espresso for a coffee. Sitting there I had this feeling of having a holiday from holiday and yet not having to work. I liked that.

In the evening I was more lucky with the connection.

And then the Parade day came! First I thought of waiting for the All Blacks at Civic Square, but the parade was to finish at Parliament Square and thought it would be more interesting to be right there. And it was closer to my hostel.

I went to the square at about 11:30 a.m. and there were already a couple hundreds of people, school kids waiting on the square. By the time the team arrived at about 1:30 p.m., the square got full and I was lucky to be in like the third front row. I looked through John Key‘s facebook albums and found myself in a couple of group photos, like this:

No one was sure when the All Blacks would start their parade, because different sources gave different times. They could start at 12:15 or 1 p.m. The weather forecast wasn’t great at all and while we were waiting in the rain outside, Mr Key was on the top floor of the Beehive.

Decorated windows of Parliament

Some people had a top view, too.

We knew that the team was coming soon, when more politicians left the building and even the Prime Minister came out to welcome the crowd. My not so fortunate photo of the PM. He wasn’t yawning here, but was saying that he hoped she wasn’t cold. (It wasn’t very cold, but just really wet)

and the other side of the shot. Find Sylwia!

And then they finally arrived. Some of them came to us to sign stuff, others were stopped by the crowd standing closer to the road. Some better or not so good photos of:

Sam Whitelock

Andrew Hore

Israel Dagg

John Afoa

Hosea Gear

Jerome Kaino

Stephen Donald!

Kieran Read

and Keven Mealamu

Then the whole team with their coaches was welcomed by the PM and others, there were short speeches etc.

(tell me how cute Piri with his kid is here… and Richie with the Cup…)

And then out of nothing the person who was leading that event suggested the All Blacks to do the haka, the crowd started to cheer and to our surprise they took their jackets off and did Ka Mate on the steps of Parliament! Some good videos of that dance ended up on YouTube: 1, 2 and 3.

The All Blacks doing the haka in Wellington was a perfect closure for my Rugby World Cup adventure. I saw them at the welcome ceremony in Auckland at the beginning of September and now I saw them wet and victorious with the Webb Ellis Cup in Wellington. 😀


WEDNESDAY to THURSDAY, 12th and 13th October

I waved goodbye to Welly at 10 a.m. and then had a change at Palmerston North. I thought we won’t leave Palmerston N, because the bus didn’t want to start. That what happens, when I travel too much, but when the technical support came, the bus started after the push. There were no more adventures for the rest of my journey to Napier. The eastern landscape of the North Island was a little different from what I got used to on the west. The hills were taller, roads were narrower and worse and there were more sheep than cows on the hills.

I arrived in Napier after 4 p.m. and stayed again at the BBH hostel, Andy’s Backpackers. The girl at the reception, who was German with a Polish name, said that the hostel needed some renovations. It did. Someone told me once that while YHA hostels are almost sterile clean and tidy, BBH hostels have their own character. I find it to be true. And people are different. Sure, you have to look after your stuff in the kitchen more carefully, but they’re more open to talk and I guess there’s this sense of sharing. 😉

I left the luggage and went for a walk. The town was quiet, like every other smaller town in New Zealand after 5 p.m. when the shops are closed, so I had time and space to admire the art deco architecture. But I didn’t take any photos then, because I was getting hungry and was on the hunt for some fish & chips. I found them at the Breakers. They were more expensive than usually, but I got so much food that I had enough for dinner for the next day.

The beach in Napier was so different from the ones I had seen in Paihia or anywhere else. No sand but pebbles and the closer the ocean the smaller they were. It was dangerous to swim there, but it was very pretty.

Napier was destroyed by an earthquake on 3rd February 1931, many people died. Many buildings were rebuilt according to the contemporary architecture fashion which was the Art Deco style. I took a long walk around the town on the next day. I think Christchurch will need more time to be rebuilt, especially when the earth is still shaking from time to time there.

This building was one of not many buildings which have Maori motifs. The other one is the ASB Bank.

At Deco Centre you can watch for free a short documentary about the city.

I had a coffee at Cappadonna, which according to my guide book was the best one in town, but after Midnight Espresso and Fidel’s in Wellington, every coffee is not good enough anymore. Next time I’m in that area, I want to stay in Hastings, try BJ’s pies and have a tour at one of the vineyards there.

These fellas, when they saw me with my camera, wanted to be photographed and they made sure I was going to put it on the Internet.

Going back to the hostel, I visited the beach once more, which wasn’t that difficult, because it was right across the street from the hostel. The sky was clearer and I could see the cliffs on the south and more land on the north. I was overwhelmed by the size of the Hawke’s Bay!

I was going to go for a walk in the evening after dinner, but it rained heavily, so I stayed in the hostel and finally caught up on what had been happening on Shortland Street. 😉 And got angry at what has been happening in Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and the rest of the Bay of Plenty for the last couple days. The oil spill from one boat made so great disaster for the wild life and those beautiful towns and cities, that I can’t imagine what could have happened if the deep sea oil drill were put into motion and a disaster like at the Mexico Gulf took place. All what New Zealand is now, would be lost. “Rena” just proves the point of the Greenpeace and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui fighters. John Key is so going to lose this coming election.

I had already booked a hostel in Rotorua. I’d been thinking of going to Coromandel or Tauranga, but since there’s no good bus connection between Rotorua and Coromandel, I think I’m going to go to Tauranga to see the mess myself and even if I don’t end up as a volunteer to clean up the beaches, I can always take some photos and spread the warning news.

Te Papa

I spent my last two nights (from MONDAY to WEDNESDAY) in Wellington at the Cambridge Hotel. I was spoilt by the YHA and I had to experience some cheaper backpacker life reality. The room was stinky and someone opened my milk, even though it was labelled. Oh, and they finished my muesli I saved for my last breakfast. Luckily, I had bought a scone just in case that person decided to finish my milk, but I guess muesli had to go first.

TUESDAY, 11th October was my last full day in the capital. I wasn’t sure about the weather. It was warm, but cloudy and I could smell the rain in the air. I decided to finish exploring Te Papa.
From 9th to 14th Oct., you could see The Webb Ellis Cup in the museum. Not sure if it was the real one, because I thought it would be behind the glass and better protected.

My favourite level at Te Papa was level 4. There was a large exhibition of Treaty of Waitangi…

…a lot of Maori artifacts, like stuff which belonged to Te Rauparehu (the guy who created Ka Mate)…

..funnels used to feed men who were being tattooed.

And I felt very warm at heart when I saw this there

In the afternoon I had to do some planning and booking, so I went to the library again to use the Internet. I didn’t want to leave Wellington. I started feeling settled there. The photographers were the same at almost every concert so thanks to my camera, they remembered me. I became friends with one homeless guy called Pete. The longer I stayed, the longer I wanted to stay, probably, because I wanted to keep the memories from last weekend fresh, but time is running out and there’s still so much to see in New Zealand, that there had to be one day when I hit the road again.

After supper at the hotel, I went for my last walk along Courtenay Place and Cuba Street. On Courtenay Place I went to the Library Bar, had a Rum Hot Chocolate, listened to live Spanish music. Going back to the hotel I saw a group of young people playing rugby on the streets and having a laugh every time the ball hit a parked car, which wasn’t very cool, but no one seemed to care.

The Woolshed Sessions and The Yoots

SUNDAY, 9th October

The intoxication continues.

Another late night resulted with another late morning. I was really deep in my work on my blog when I realized it was already time to go and see The Woolshed Sessions. Walking closer to the stage in Courtenay Place, I heard their first chords.

In half an hour there were the Yoots to play (recommended by Mike Fabulous), so J.&R. and me waited in one of the cafes near the stage. I ordered kumara chilli fries. Yum!

Soon we saw the band taking the stage. I saw again a couple familiar faces, like Dan from WIUO and Will from The Phoenix Foundation.

Their songs were singalongs, so there was a board with lyrics to help the audience with the singing.

Or sometimes there were songs with motions

They finished before 6 p.m. I caught Dan to sign my WIUO EP, because I didn’t meet him on Thursday. He was better now and he told me he always wanted to visit Poland. I was surprised and honoured! 😀

I wanted to see The Nudge and thought they would be playing later, but then I found the schedule and they had already played at 1 a.m. Maybe another time I’ll be more lucky.

At 6 p.m. the streets of Wellington got empty and quiet. The capital and 25,000 visitors were watching rugby, Springboks being beaten by the Wallabies. I watched the match back at home. Dan recommended me another jazz band playing that evening at Happy, but when I got home, I felt comfortable and lazy and didn’t want to go outside anymore. Besides, I had to watch the All Blacks and Piri Weepu being awesome.

Right, I finally caught up with my blog. It’s Monday. I’m still at my hosts who are at work now and I just have to shut the door behind me. It’s already afternoon. My bags are packed and I’ve decided to stay two more nights in Wellington. The YHA was too expensive for me now ($37.50 per night!), so I booked at the Cambridge Hotel using my new BBH card ($22 per night).

You’ve got a lot to listen to before my next post, so enjoy them all!