Oh Those Wellington Days

One of the cool things about the working holiday in New Zealand is that there isn’t really one specific way that you have to go about doing it. Some people choose to get seasonal jobs like fruit picking that allow them to work in one place for a few weeks or months and then move on to another place, working their way around the country. Alana and I have spent a fair deal of time traveling like this, living out of our backpacks, and while we like moving around and seeing new places it is also nice to settle down and have something of a more permanent base from which to explore.

Rather than moving around from one short term job to another, we’ve decided that, after traveling around and seeing most of the North Island in our first three months, we’ll spend the next five or six months in Wellington working and saving up some money for when we head to the South Island in November.

We spent our first two weeks in Wellington at AirBnbs while we looked for jobs and a more permanent place to live. We managed to find a room in a house that fit our budget, and Alana was able to get a job as a receptionist through a temp agency in town. So while you often hear of working holiday visa holders wwoofing or doing agricultural work, it is also possible to get a more permanent job. There are plenty of temp agencies in the cities that can help you find work.

So that’s why you haven’t heard from us much these past few months. We’ve been busy being real boring adults and doing regular non travel-y things like going to work, cooking dinner, spending quiet evenings at home reading books, etc. I started writing this post back in June, but we hadn’t really done much in the city yet. Next thing I knew four months had passed (travel time and routine regular life time really do move at different speeds) and we only have about six weeks left here in Wellington before we head off to the South Island for the next portion of our New Zealand travel adventure extravaganza (guaranteed to include more regular, exciting blog posts). Wellington is a pretty cool city though, so we’ve put together a list of some of the more blog worthy things we’ve seen and done in the past few months.

One of the first places we visited on arriving in Wellington was the Weta Cave. Weta is the company that did all of the costumes, props, and such for the Lord of the Rings movies (and many other movies as well). You can take a tour of the studio and learn all kinds of cool behind the scenes facts and see old movie props.

After the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies wrapped, Weta was kind enough to take in the trolls that were involved in the filming. The rest of the sign reads “feed the trolls.” I was probably closer than I should have been, but it was worth the risk.

Another highlight was the Red Rocks. This was a short hike along the southern coast just south of the city. You can walk (or bike or drive) along the coast. There are some red rocks and the weather was clear so we had some nice views of the South Island, but the real attraction here was the seal colony! It was hard to see them at first, as they blended in very well with the rocks, but there were seals everywhere. Most of them were just lounging in the sun. Some were sleeping only a few feet from the trail. We didn’t get too close since they can apparently get pretty aggressive. The walk out to the rocks and back only took a couple hours and made for a very enjoyable afternoon walk.

The most seal activity we saw was an occasional side eye. Note my nervous “please don’t wake up, fly into a rage, and eat me” smile. I can’t seem to avoid posing for pictures with some of New Zealand’s most dangerous wildlife.

Another fun walk we went on was the Paekakariki Escarpment Track. This is a portion of the Te Araroa Trail, a 3000 km hike that runs the length of the country. This section was only 10 km and followed a mountain ridge along the west coast about half an hour north of Wellington. The trail was pretty steep with lots of stairs, but the views of the coast on one side and the sheep grazing on the other were very nice. There are train stations at both ends of the trail and so we parked at the bottom, took a train up to the top and then walked back down again. (Alana tried to convince me this was just like skydiving where you take a plane up, then jump down. I. Am. Still. Not. Convinced.)

Wellington is a nice city, but its still a city. Fortunately the great outdoors in never far away in New Zealand!

Most recently, we spent and evening at the New Zealand Pop-Up Sauna. It was a shipping crate that had been turned into a sauna right on the waterfront at the harbor. It was $8 for an hour of sauna time. They had changing rooms, an outdoor shower, and if you were after the real sauna experience you could take a dip in the harbor. We spent a while sweating it up in the sauna before taking a break outside. After debating whether or not it would be worth it to take the plunge into the icy harbor we decided to give it a try for the sake of our circulation and skin health. It was cold and unpleasant, but after we got out the chilly air (which had seemed uncomfortably cold when we first got out of the sauna) was now nice and warm by comparison. Even with our new found cold resistance it wasn’t long before we hopped back in the sauna to warm up again.

Today, September 30th, is the last day the sauna is open. Who knows where it will pop up next?




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