On the second day of our weekend, we hired a car and took a leisurely drive along the coast. New Zealand, like Australia, is not a big fan of road shoulders. Fortunately most of the drop-offs were less severe than the cliffs we were basically driving on in Tasmania. But that's only because most of the cliffs started on the opposite side of the road, say where the houses started. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Laurel's co-worker who used to live in Wellington recommended this place, the Chocolate Fish cafe, for lunch. Man, he did not lead us astray. They specialize in fish sandwiches, but have a whole assortment of diner-style food. Everything is cooked on the outdoor grill next to the patio. According to a plaque by the door the building was originally part of an old military base that was built in the late 1800's by the Brits when there was a very real concern that the Russians were going to invade. I'm sorry, what!? What the heck were the Russians doing that far south, ever? If anyone could shed some light on this, it would be greatly appreciated.
Apparently, the Chocolate Fish is also a noted spot on the Lord of the Rings tour. During filming it was a popular lunch spot, and I think a movie production building was across the street, so it was probably pretty convenient, but not really sure on the details. Greg's nerd is strong, but not in the elf and hobbit categories.
As we mentioned in our last post, the weather in Wellington is noturiosly unpredictable, but we lucked out for lunch. The sun came out shining and it was beautiful, so we sat out on the deck and enjoyed our lunch. They also provided large, floppy hats which Laurel could not resist.
Fake-out! As we were driving we had to stop and take a picture of this guy, because we thought he was a little penguin at first. Turns out, not. He's just some kind of seagull-type waterbird. Still pretty cute though.
As we drove around Wellington's section of the island we just stopped wherever and took pictures. We had been recommended some especially picturesque places, but, seriously, it all was. Every twist and turn just brought more amazing views.
Clearly if there are rocks they must be climbed. It is the first rule of nature.
The second rule of nature is that Laurel is adorable.
So, as you may have noticed Wellington is super-rocky. Most of the coastal land is rocks, a flat strip that's been used for a road, and then very steep incline. Some houses will have a ground level garage and then a kind of ski-lift elevator looking thing to take them up to their house. Or in this case, the longest, steepest walk to check the mailbox ever. That's right, the zig-zagging white fence is the path/steps from the main street to the houses at the top.
There's not much else to say about this next stretch of pictures aside from noting that it's freaking epic, and the sun did not stay out for long.
We came across this place by complete accident. It's called Zealandia, and it has to be a completely unique idea. A large plot of land, on the northern outskirts of Wellington, has been set aside for the next 500 years to try and return nature to its pre-man environment. They call it a natural zoo. You are welcome to visit and walk through the area. It's wild, so there's no guarantee how much wildlife you'll see, but you will see a whole host of birds. We didn't actually take the tour, it was getting late and they were going to be closing soon, but it's a pretty great idea.
Did I mention that it's built directly over the fault line that runs down the center of Wellington? Here's the sign advising what to do in the [inevitable] event of an earthquake.
And, here is the faultline. Please note how the ground on one side of the fence is about 10 feet higher than the other side of the fence. That is nuts.