26 May 2017
From the windy capital across to the South Island – Wellington to Picton
We woke in windy Wellington - New Zealand’s quirky capital. Destined to depart later in the afternoon on a ferry to Picton, we had most of the day to enjoy what Wellington has to offer. We started early, heading for Red Rocks just south-west of Owhiro Bay. Leaving the van behind at the end of Owhiro Bay Parade, we walked the amazing coastal walk around to the seal colony at Red Rocks.
The walk takes an hour or two return, but is easy and accessible for young and old alike. Following the rocky shoreline, it becomes a game of ‘spot the seal’ once you approach the colony. When we visited, there were hundreds of fur seals and you can get an amazing unobstructed view of them as they sunbathe on the rocks.
The area is one of national significance, with fascinating geology and Maori history. The rocks themselves are an ancient pillow lava formed 200 million years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions, and the iron oxide gives the rocks their distinctive colouring. We packed snacks and water, enjoyed a photo opportunity with the seals in the background, and wandered back to the trusty van. We still had so much to pack into the day!
Heading back into the city, we decided to spend some time on Wellington’s iconic waterfront. From here it is easy to get to New Zealand’s national museum - Te Papa. Te Papa has a wonderful array of exhibitions displaying national history and heritage, as well as an incredible exhibition on Gallipoli and New Zealand’s role in the war. Excellent cafes and restaurants line the waterfront, and Wellington is known for its great coffee and legendary craft beer.
Activities in this city are limitless. Whether you’re up for a walk up Mt Victoria - where you can view a panorama of the city and the harbour - or if you want to spot a kiwi at Zealandia’s ecological sanctuary, then this is the place for you. We popped by Weta Workshop, where the movie magic of Lord of the Rings was created, and then took a ride in one of the city’s iconic red cable cars. The shopping here is good too, if you need to pick up a few warmer garments before heading south!
There was so much more we could have done whilst in Wellington, but late afternoon rolled around and it was time to board our south-bound ferry! With the ability to drive on to the inter-island ferry, it provides the perfect way to continue an epic New Zealand road trip. We parked the van, then ascended and found a spot to sit in a lounge. We didn’t sit for long though, preferring to stand out on the deck and watch as our ship drew away from Wellington.
Soon, we were gliding through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds and arriving in Picton. Our day was ending but our South Island adventure had only just begun!