It was dark by the time I got to the cottage. I had never used Air BnB before when booking accommodation. This was the second time on this trip that I had used them and this time I was really impressed. The house I was staying in was up on the side of a hill, which is quite common in Wellington, from what I’ve seen of the city. Trying to find the place at night time wasn’t the easiest and although it was a bit of a climb, the view from the house of Wellington Harbour, in the daytime but especially at night was spectacular.
The house is a 1930s cottage, with a large deck above the tree line, where you can sit outside and soak up the fabulous view and is in a good location, situated pretty close to local shops and cafes. A 5 minute walk will take you to the road below and a 20 minute walk via Aro Street will get you into town. There was plenty of space in the house, which I like. The living room (with a TV and fireplace), kitchen and bathroom are all shared areas and were very clean. Mind you, apart from the host staying there one night and one other guest over the Easter weekend, I had the place to myself for the 5 days I stayed there. Well, me and 3 feline companions, that is.
One was jet black, very timid and shy. The second one was white and brown and a bit friendlier but the third one, Maggie, I totally fell in love with and would have loved to have taken her home. She was gorgeous. I’m a real cat lover and I took to Maggie from the very start. She’s a Maine Coon, with long, dark grey fur and about 2 years old, so the host told me. All of the cats are indoor/outdoor cats and they came and went as they pleased. Maggie used to miaow outside my bedroom in the mornings. I’d let her in and she’d sprawl herself all over me and purr until the cows came home, which I loved. The Maine Coon breed is the largest domesticated cat breed, commonly nicknamed “the gentle giant”. It’s specifically native to the state of Maine, in the US and is known for its intelligence and playful, gentle personality. This was one of the reasons why I enjoyed staying in this house.
On previous visits to Wellington I did all the tours I wanted to do, like the Wellington Rover Tour: a mixture of Lord of The Rings locations and sightseeing around the city, Weta Cave in Miramar, which I liked because I think the people who work at Weta are geniuses at what they do in the film world, visited the Te Papa Museum, drove around the coast of Wellington and went to some of the beaches such as Lyall Bay and Island Bay. So I was happy this time mostly just catching up with a few friends that I know there.
Every time I go to Wellington I always do my best to get to see a movie in The Grand at the Embassy Theatre. It’s my favourite cinema in the whole world. I love it because of the space, the old-style décor and the grandeur of it all. The Embassy was built in 1924 and in 2003 was refurbished in keeping with its origins and heritage. The venue shot to fame when it hosted the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and played host again, 10years later, to the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which I went to while I was living there. So it has some great memories for me. This time I went to see Shazam and the movie was better than I expected.
Island Bay is one of my favourite spots in Wellington. I used to live about 10 minutes walk uphill from there, near Southgate and I had a hankering to get out there again. It’s situated 5km south of the city centre and is the starting point of 2 walkways that cross the city: the City to Sea Walkway (which runs between Shorland Park in Island Bay and Parliament) and the Southern Walkway that follows the Town Belt between Island Bay and Oriental Bay. It’s also home to the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, a not-for-profit education facility operated by the Wellington Marine Conservation Trust. The aim of their programmes is to encourage the wise use and enjoyment of New Zealand’s marine resources through public education, live displays and hands-on activities.
I got out to Island Bay in the late evening around 5pm and took a stroll along the beach. It was a breezy evening but mild all the same at 17 degrees. I had a quick walk along the shoreline and came across some very unusual looking “stones”. One of my friends on facebook told me that they are Turban Shell lids or operculums. The operculum, meaning little lid, is a corneous (made out of a substance similar to that of horns in some mammals) or calcareous (partly or mostly composed of calcium carbonate, containing lime or being chalky) anatomical structure like a trapdoor which exists in many groups of freshwater and sea snails and some land snails. The trapdoor closes the aperture of the shell when the soft parts of the animal are retracted. I picked up about 6 of them. They’re oval in shape. On one side they’re green/brown in colour and on the flat side there are beautiful spiral shaped designs, which I loved.
On my way back to town, I noticed that the local cinema was open. The last few times I was in the area it had been closed. My tummy was screaming at me to eat something and as I scanned through their menu, eating there sounded even more appealing. It was a cosy, quirky little restaurant and if I’d had the time I would have really liked to have gone to the cinema there. I had the most delicious warm Superfood Salad with a glass of New Zealand rose wine. It was one of the nicest meals I’d had in a long while. They have a brunch, dinner and a kids menu, along with a wide range of local and international beer, wines and spirits and a takeaway coffee kiosk open from 7am weekdays and 8am weekends. The Empire Cinema & Eatery comes highly recommended.
After 5 very enjoyable days in Wellington it was time to move on to Waiheke Island, off the east coast of Auckland. I was looking forward to it as I hadn’t been there before and was one of the places I had always wanted to go to.