I’ve been making the most of the bus service today.
Climbing on board the No 1 bus to Island Bay, I asked for a return ticket and the driver told me that a 10NZD ticket was good all day for wherever I wanted to go on the Explorer 1, 2 and 3 services.
I began to suspect that this might turn into one of those days where I went our and forgot to go home.
Bus ticket information for Wellington is available here and I can’t find anything online about whether the 10 NZD fare is limited to Saturdays or if it applies every day.
So, off to Island Bay to walk along the coast to the Red Rocks.
This was another sunny day in New Zealand’s capital and I am surprised by how easy it is to access natural space in and around the city. Mount Victoria is in the city centre and the various bays are within easy reach by public transport.
I arrived at Island Bay and walked down to the shore to follow The Esplanade for a 1.5hours walk, including lots of stops to take photographs.
The road curved around Owhiro Bay…
…before ending at the start of an unsealed track – another route that is definitely not hire car friendly.
I finally reached Red Rocks and discovered why they are called Red Rocks…
There are two Maori legends that explain why the rocks are red…
In one, Kupe – the famous Polynesian explorer – was gathering paua (shellfish) here when one clamped his hand. He bled and stained the rocks red.
I’m less keen on the other story, in which the cause is the blood of Kupe’s daughters.
Fearing for their father’s safety on a long voyage, they gashed themselves in grief over his absence.
Why do legends so frequently involve or require the mutilation of women?
If I had been coming here only to see the Red Rocks, I might have been a little underwhelmed, but I had another reason.
There is a fur seal colony here.
The species has been protected since the 1970s and this one is a ‘haul out’ colony, a non-breeding one.
From a distance, I spotted a large seal blazing in the water before clambering up onto the rocks and as I for closer I spotted another three, lazing in the sun.
They were not at all concerned by the presence of walkers excitedly taking photographs. Even the children didn’t bother them.
Occasionally, one of the seals would pause in its sunbathing and glance over, disinterestedly.
This was a masterclass in laziness.
As it was my last day in Wellington, I also wanted to check out a couple more quirky sightseeing spots.
Next stop, Miramar, home of the Weta Workshop famous for…
What do you mean: “What?”
Yes, ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Peter Jackson has played a huge role in invigorating tourism in New Zealand. There are tours every 15 minutes at the Weta Workshop to see how the costumes and special effects were done plus guided tours across the city to see the film locations.
I wasn’t too interested in doing this but I had heard good things about the Weta Cave Museum beyond the fact that it’s free.
Is it worth the 20 minute bus ride from the centre and the 15 minute walk up the road?
If you’re going for one (or both) of the tours, probably. Otherwise, no – for the most part, the museum experience is just like going into a Warhammer or World of Warcraft shop.
My next jaunt was to the Kaori Cemetery.
Yes, I was doing these trips because I had the all day bus pass – making special trips to see them wouldn’t be worth the effort otherwise, but as a mishmash of things to do, it was a very pleasant way to spend the day.
What was at Kaori Cemetery?
This is the grave of Harry McNeish who sailed with Shackleton on the Endurance, as the ship’s carpenter or chippy. More importantly, this is a statue of his adopted cat Mrs Chippy… The name stuck even after after it was realised Mrs Chippy was actually a tom.
Look away now, cat lovers.
Mrs Chippy was very popular with the crew of the Endurance but when the ship became trapped and an escape/rescue party sent across the ice and icy seas to find help, Shackleton declared no extras… and shot the cat.
McNeish (as were many of the crew) was heartbroken.
The monument has been erected by the New Zealand Antarctic Society.
This was a great way to spend my last day here. Wellington is a great city – a very relaxed capital with an awful lot to see and do.