Day 6. Te Papa Museum and meeting Sarah.
The next morning I was looking forward to meeting my Kiwi pen-pal, Sarah. Sarah lives 45 min from Wellington and we had been corresponding via written letters for 2 years. Our plan was to meet up at Te Papa.
The day was gray and rainy. I debated wearing a long-sleeved shirt but decided on a t-shirt, convertible pants, tennis shoes and a windbreaker. We left the apartment at 9:00 and got to Te Papa at 9:30. The museum was huge and we quickly realized that our few hours would need to be wisely spent. The interiors of the museum were gorgeous and it had amazing views from its windows. One of our favorite things was an interactive media wall where you could select images and videos and then display them on a huge media wall. It was an amazing museum.
We spent 2.5 hours looking around, and then we went out front to meet Sarah who showed up promptly at noon. She took us to one of her favorite cafes for lunch, Caffe Astoria on Lambton Quay, which had outdoor seating. By then the gray skies had cleared away and it was warm and sunny so we sat outside. The cafe was busy and there was a small patch of grass in front of it where people were sitting. For lunch, Marc ordered a chicken Caesar sandwich ($6.5) and Sarah ordered a tomato and mozzarella panini ($6.5). Since the sandwiches in the display case looked mediocre, I ordered the saffron risotto with osso bucco for $18. Sarah ordered a “flat white” coffee and Marc ordered a Chai, $4 each. I realized that I finally had someone who could explain the difference between all the coffees!
Long black = drip
Short black = shot of espresso
Flat white = drip with milk
Latte = latte
Cappuccino = cappuccino
Mochacino = mocha
If you want it non-fat, you order it “trim,” although ordering non-fat had worked thus far.
Sarah was proving to be a source of invaluable info… After lunch, she took us up to Mount Victoria. The view was stunning, and she gave us a lot of information about the buildings. After Mount Victoria, we asked her if she had been to Weta Cave, the studio that worked on the LOTR films. She said she had heard of it but hadn’t been and we asked her if she would want to go there, which she did. Marc loved it, they have a small “theater” where they show a 20 min video on the history of Weta, which they claim is unavailable anywhere else but which you could probably find on YouTube. Marc got a t-shirt ($50 OMG) and they had some neat LOTR props like swords and Sauron’s armor and stuff from other movies. I would only recommend a visit for mega-nerds.
After Weta, it was about 3:00 pm and we asked Sarah if she could drop us back at Te Papa. She took us back via Orient Bay, and told us how the sand there is imported from Nelson. It was a lovely day to be out there, and many people were strolling along the bay. Sarah dropped us back at Te Papa and we heartily thanked her for the tour of Wellington. We spent a couple more hours in the museum and then walked to Orient Bay. We sat and people watched for a good hour. Many people were swimming, tourists were renting surreys and pedaling up and down the pedestrian walkway. It was a lovely, lovely afternoon. I could have stayed another hour, but we were hungry and had a long walk back to the hotel. We stopped at a huge supermarket close to Te Papa, the New World market on Wakefield. We bought 4 plums ($3), a bar of soap ($1), some body lotion ($5) and fingernail clippers ($4), and a small box of laundry detergent ($5).
We dumped our stuff off at the room and headed to Miyabi Sushi. Marc had recognized it on the way back the previous night as one of the restaurants recommended in the guidebook, and it just happened to be 2 blocks from our hotel. The restaurant was up a tiny side alley, and had virtually no ambiance. Contributing to this was the fact that it seemed extremely over-priced–$24 for teriyaki chicken? I sulked a bit over his choice of restaurant… Marc ordered the teriyaki, and I ordered a sushi combo plate for $18. I had about 10 various sushi rolls, and Marc had to large servings of chicken, steamed rice, a salad and miso soup. The sushi was above average, and Marc declared the teriyaki was the best he’d ever had, the breading thin and crisp and the sauce light and not overly sweet like teriyaki places back home. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to pack–the next day we would be getting up at 6:00 for our morning ferry ride to the south island!