Well, you might ask why Wellington and Taupo again? While there is so much unknown still to discover? Good question. I like coming back to places I like. And to get a second glance or an even better look into the place. I have good memories with Taupo and Wellington and since I wanted to try another climbing session with Vincent in Wellington and had the chance to meet Dominik from former work days in Taupo both cities seemed to be set.
So here is just a short refresher to those places.
Going for a climb: What did I do last time in Wellington? Climbing with Vincent. And since it was so much fun together we were quick in setting up a second time for the short time I stopped in Wellington on my way up north. If you happen to be in Wellington one day, it’s raining and you don’t know what to do, consider a climbing session at Ferg’s Kayaks – I hear they have good kayaks and boards, too. (Otherwise they should think about their name.) And if you’re lucky you get an introduction lesson and a pretty good ironic talk with Charlotte as well. Vincent and I have been lucky. But we also had the funniest 2 hours tryouts at the different walls. “What shall we try next?” “This one looks good and not so difficult.” *After trying to climb and getting stuck at 2 meters or not even conquering the first 3 grips* “Whew, that was tough. What shall we try next?” “This one looks good.” *repeat*
In the end we had a pretty good session, a couple of successful moments and a thought on my mind where I should go climbing next – and who will belay me then.
PS: You just get a picture of their SUP boards since I couldn’t take any while trying to survive the walls of course.
Going to explore: Wellington’s big plus is that there are so many free things to do. If it is walking Mt. Victoria on the trace of four hobbits or visiting one of the many free museums there is always something to do. I went to the Te Papa museum again since I missed out the “Gallipoli – The scale of our war” exhibition during my last stay. It’s about New Zealand’s part in World War I and I got a high recommendation somewhere in a hostel dorm way down the South Island. So I had to go this time. And yes. It was really good. But also very disturbing. For me many of the war and war crime exhibitions or documentations are so intense that I can’t get them out of my head for days or weeks. And this one was – sadly for my head – a very good one with WETA workshop adding these incredible supersized models of people whose stories were told.
Going out: Ah, the coffee shops, the food, the beer, the bars – all these choices! Since I’m running low on budget I constricted myself to just one place for each desire (good that there is a plural).
- The Coffee shop: Wellington loves coffee and they call themselves the “coffee capital” of New Zealand – CNN naming them one of the top 8 international coffee destinations just boosted their self confidence through the roof. And yes, there are so many really good coffee shops around. Since I liked the vibe during the last time a lot I chose again the Memphis Bell. Lovely coffee, nice cakes (opinion of an “I don’t like cake but yeah, maybe I try”-guy) and nice table neighbours.
- The food and the beer: I followed this time the lonely planet’s recommendation and went to the Little Beer Quarter. A pizza and a pint for 20$? Couldn’t let it pass. It will definitely not win my “favourite pizza in NZ” award but it filled me and the beer and atmosphere were delicious!
- The bars: Again so many. So many good ones. I passed the sign of The Library on Sunday night and after googling their drinking menu – a fine raspberry cocktail on top of their list – I decided that this will be the spot for my last drink in Wellington. Following the protocol I’ve been seated at the counter like all the singles and then of course decided for a different cocktail than the one which lured me in. The Mo Stache, Mo Problem.
While sipping on it I got trapped in the “you sit alone at the bar, you have to talk to the people and the bartenders” mood. Some of us shared a short talk about how to travel. If you want to see as much as you can, if you have a to do list or how flexible these itineraries are. I like to have time at a certain place. To dive in and see how life works there. How people interact and what the atmosphere is. Maybe that’s also a reason why I came back to Wellington.
How do you get to like a travel spot? How do you make it to a place of yours?
I sat there and listened all their insider jokes and stories as I was the only newbie there and watched the bartenders’ moves to create a drink. I felt quite relaxed so I thought I’d ask the question I had on my mind for weeks: “Why does no one like Auckland?” Well, what followed was a truly one sided discussion between everyone in hearable distance. Even the guys who have never been to Auckland said it’s sh*t. I wasn’t willing to give in that easily so I asked if there isn’t anything good about Auckland. They turned calm and seemed a bit helpless until the woman next to me bursted out “The beaches! They have some nice beaches.” Nods all around let her sank back into her chair and take another sip from her Pinot Gri.
And, well, if it was the cocktail or it being the last night I can’t tell, but I got reckless and added out loud “They have good coffee shops there as well.”
If you have read the lines above concerning the coffee in Wellington – very serious business! – you can imagine that I didn’t get the same positive response as the beaches. Everyone went very quiet and locked slightly startled. “Nooo, you’re joking,” one of the younger bartenders tried to come to the rescue. I was close to being expelled. So I called it a night, payed and head off.
What a fun night. I’m looking forward to tell the story to the good baristas in Auckland.
“I’m standing outside, barefooted, under the little canopy of our hostel rooms and observe, listen and feel the first summer storm in New Zealand. Every hostel room opens up into the common yard and has a little bench and this very useful roof in front. People passing by. They are trying to avoid to get too wet while reaching for the safety of their dorm, the kitchen or the bathrooms. Everyone has his/hers/their own special technique. Going fast, jump-walking, holding a hand over the head. But the rain gets even heavier and heavier from moment to moment. Summer storm. In November. The grass smells nice. Dominik catches up. We are both standing silently with a bottle of beer in our hand and watch the rain. “Like a carrot?” He asks in a wonderful Bavarian dialect. Haven’t heard that in quite a while and it makes my thoughts drifting back home for a moment. “Sure!” So a few seconds later we’re standing there, a beer in one hand, the other holding a raw carrot and still watching the rain. We have to step back a bit to the safety of the canopy. Just a few more moments until we will get dry to the hostel’s kitchen for preparing dinner.”
Revival time: Talking with the awesome Dominik – he brought my iPad to NZ, is hiking the Te Araoa and managed three crazy long days to meet me in Taupo – about old working times at Deutsche Bahn (“I mog di SOB!”) at the furthest spot away from there. Naturally we couldn’t get any kind of cheap beer it had to be “Oa gscheid’s” (= a really good one). Thanks for the company in Taupo, the hot pool trip and other crazy things.
(Wet) Puppy love: Many different animals have already crossed my travel paths but since the Camino in August and that adorable shepherd dog which followed me there hasn’t been another dog until Taupo. This guy was willing to fill that gap with wet cuddles – all of course because he wanted some of our food and beer.
My happy place: For me sport has always been fun and balance. There was just a short time in my life without sports and let’s say that hasn’t been the happiest chapter. So after being done with my hikes I needed a new routine. And what can I say? I love New Zealand’s playgrounds – and know a couple of them quite well by now.
My happy place, too: Best coffee in town – and delicious food as well – at the Storehouse, Taupo. Perfect for chatting, working or a video chat with a Los Angeles tattoo artist for a project in February. So exciting!
In that coffee shop I also planned my next destination – Rotorua. So at least I will have one more new place to go before heading to Auckland for my flight. Here we go again.
Side note: Daily struggles of a backpacker
Side note 2: Good things you find in the shared kitchen