Wonderful (Windy) Wellington!
12/4 We got going from our hidden campsite, happy to have passed most of the big hurdles on the way to Wellington. The trail south from here was a mix of riparian pathways, beach bordering on suburban houses, and road walks along the highway into the smaller towns surrounding the city itself. Apparently some gypsy carnival was taking place in the area, and multiple garishly decorated campers drove by with their eclectic cargo, a testament to the quirkiness of the area surrounding the capital. Despite the growing sense of increasing urbanity, we were thankfully never routed directly through any industrial areas, as in Auckland. Finally, after another day of tough tar seal roads and hard sand beaches pounding our legs, we settled in another park. Even though we were in full view of the occasional local passing by, we felt at home enough, having owned up to our smelly hiker calling.
12/5 As if some unheard alarm rang, we woke at our usual 5:30 am to birds singing and signs of bright a day. We packed camp from behind our secluded bush in a reservoir and headed out, excited and anticipatory for our arrival in Wellington! Thus, signifying the completion of the North Island and upon where we planned to stay for a whole TWO nights in a row! The first time we'd be waking up in the same place two days in a row in 7 weeks. Hard to believe. Our morning walk led us through local parks and around the suburbs of Wellington. We hit our first climb of the day, Colonel Knobs peak, before 9 am and hiked quickly the 3.8 km to its peak. We'd been warned that Wellington was windy... And this was our first taste of just how true that was. Luckily the wind was at out backs and by merely lifting a foot from the ground I could guarantee to be jet lifted a good two feet ahead! Not as handy though when it's blowing in any other direction... We descended through pastures, dodging sheep and bunny scat before following extensive switchbacks through tall pines. We took a break before a 5 km road walk that led to... Another mountain! We had not expected this urban environment to involve so much climbing. This was once again a lovely track, known as the "skyline walk" which affords great views of Wellington and the SOUTH ISLAND! (To quote aunt Kathy: "It does exist!") but the winds were so harsh that we were nearly blown over in some sections and had to peel our eyes to keep them from watering up. Happy to descent from this torrent, we hit some well maintained track and meandered through beautiful homes and hidden park walkways. We met a woman and her dog Starbuck and she offered to have us for drinks and a shower, but we were too set on getting to our Backpackers hostel and settling in. My feet felt like two sore bags of sand that I was dragging around, every step in punishing pain after all the road walking and we opted to take the most direct route to the city center instead of the wandering trail that the TA set us on. We hit the DOC office just in time to get our Hut passes for the South Island and made our way to Wellywood Backpackers. Opening the door to our OWN room was like Christmas morning. We threw things everywhere and each took long showers- sitting under the hot water and re-entering the womb with happy cleanliness. Nothing feels better. Showered, it was time for laundry. Now, when you want to wash all your clothes, you... Don't have any clothes to wear. So I did the wash in my rain shell and a spare pair of underwear while Jeff basked in the glory of warm, sheltered sheets. Clean clothes and clean bodies, meant dinner and catching up on, WHOA, social media! It's amazing how much junk mail one can acquire in a week's time. Sleep came easy and I realized how little I've seen of the New Zealand night sky, because I'm always asleep by 9 pm.
What's that? a view!