One thing about booking in a rush through Airbnb is that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, so it was an absolute delight to delve into an inner-city suburb and find that our home for the next two nights would be a perfect, pretty, classic Wellington villa. Two-storey, narrow, painted red outside and full of varnished old wood, books and comfortable beds inside, this Aro Street property is just charming. Everything we wanted was provided, and the central city was just a downhill wander away.
Chief amongst the attractions of course is Te Papa, the national museum – but here’s a word of warning to potential visitors: before you plan your day, google Wellington + cruise ships. Because today there were two in port, and the queues for the big exhibitions were horrendous. So instead we took advantage of the wonderful (and atypical) calm, sunny weather to stroll along the interesting waterfront, lined with plaques, artworks, pop-up shops in mini-shipping containers, parks, poetry and people – skateboarding, jumping into the water (how many capital city ports could you do that in, and not catch some horrible lurgy?), strolling and sunbathing and selfie-snapping.
Stepping into Shed 5 for lunch was a happy chance: the seafood chowder here is the best ever, and the waiter was so proprietorially enthusiastic that we ate much more than we’d intended, and had no regrets.
It’s a requirement, when you visit Wellington, to go up the old cable car to the top for the view; and also for a trail through the botanic gardens; and, most interestingly, to visit the cable car museum where there’s a really good video about the private cable cars that abound in Wellington’s steep suburbs – about 400 of them. One couple, endearingly, built theirs because their Labradors were getting too elderly to cope with their steps; another man got run away with in his and he and his dog had to bail out.