Today we took the car and drove to Owhiro Bay and up to Mount Wellington for some spectacular views of the city. We also spent a lot of time exploring the exhibits at Te Papa Tongarewa.
Owhiro Bay was pleasant, especially since the sun was out and burning bright. It was a small cove that could’ve been found in Hawaii. While we were admiring the water, a local named Don stopped to chat with us. He said that people surfed in this area, but no one was out today because the waves were pretty tired and flat.
He told us how this used to be a haven for people who just wanted to chill out. However, now the property surrounding this quiet area was worth a pretty penny. I suppose this is true for all property with ocean views and easy access to the beach. Being so close to the city is another bonus.
After not-so-subtly extricating ourselves from Don (boy, this guy could talk and talk), we headed to Mount Wellington and some stunning views of the city. Many people hiked up the mountain, which reminded me a lot of Mount Tantalus in Honolulu but with less trees overhanging the road. From the top, you could see the airport, Cuba Street, Te Papa and the surrounding suburbs. It made for a pretty cityscape, even though the wind was whipping around us.
By this time, we were ready for something different so we headed back to the hotel to drop off the car. After a quick bite to eat, we went to Te Papa and played around for a few hours. They had some new exhibits that weren’t there the last time I visited so I enjoyed myself a lot. All in all, I think we had a good day.
When we visited Wellington Botanic Gardens, I was happy to see that the weather was a lot better than the first time I’d been there. Since we couldn’t check into our hotel across the street just yet, I wanted to show my mom around the gardens and see how different it looked with some flowers blooming and . . . well, without the snow.
We strolled around the grounds and stopped for photos among the flowers. The area was a lot bigger than I remembered, and it was really nice to see the different kinds of flora. The rose garden was especially nice and the surrounding area was very popular with families.
We walked along tree-covered tracks in the cool Wellington air with clear skies and the sun high above us. While there were lots of people around, it felt like we were the only ones there.
I truly cannot grasp this concept despite having been in this country for so long. I know there’s more land than people to use it, but the isolation that you can find, even within major cities, is still surprising to me. It’s really nice, especially since Oahu is often so crowded.
The time we spent in the garden was nice and peaceful. We had a chance to chat and reflect on life. We relaxed and looked forward to continuing our adventure by thoroughly exploring the city in the upcoming days.
As my mom and I drove into Wanganui (or Whanganui), we passed the beautiful Virginia Lake and decided to spend the day there. There are three different tracks of varying difficulty that lead you around the lake, and we ended up doing two of them.
We were lucky enough to have had good weather on this road trip, and Wanganui was no exception. With blue skies above and a cool breeze blowing, it was a perfect time to do a short hike. I was actually surprised that my mom wanted to do the walk. She doesn’t particularly like the outdoors. However, she really seemed to enjoy herself at Virginia Lake.
As we walked along the lake’s edge, we stopped for photos of the local wildlife. I really liked the pukeko, which is also known as the purple swamphen. The pukeko was often along the muddy shores of the lake and their bright feathers looked beautiful in the sun.
One of the trails took us high above the water and into the thick growth of trees that surrounded the area. From this vantage point, we could see across the lake. The smell of the forest permeated the air, and everything felt a little damp despite the sun’s constant presence. Leaves that had fallen on the trail muted our footsteps, and we saw many different types of vegetation thriving under the canopy of trees.
Even though Virginia Lake appeared to be a popular area, the trails were quite devoid of hikers. It almost felt like we really were hiking in a forest instead of a park within the city. I imagine this is why it’s a great place for locals who want to escape the daily hustle and bustle of life.