There was bad weather forecast so I decided to stay in Wellington giving myself a chance to see the much talked about Te Papa museum and hoping the weather would have passed by the time I moved on to Nelson. As predicted it was raining when I got up and this is what Wellington looked like.
But I wasn’t going to let the weather deter me. So I caught the No.2 bus just around the corner out to Miramar and the Weta Cave studios where they made all the costumes for Lord of the Rings. I was a little disappointed at the small size of the display room but it was cool to take a picture with a life-size Gollum sculpture. Although at this point I must confess that I seem to have misplaced a whole batch of photographs (I think when I was trying to clear my SD cards one of them got corrupted on the hostel computers) and so I don’t have any photographs to prove it.
Obviously for security reasons they can’t show you around the studios as what they are working on is for movies that haven’t come out yet and so has to be kept secret but they do have a 20 minute DVD show about the history of Weta Cave and some of their work that was very interesting. It’s also free, and a treasure trove for the serious collector although the return bus ride will cost around NZ$9.00.
When I came out it had stopped raining so I decided to walk to the airport and do a bit of plane spotting as you can get quite close to the runway but just as I got there it started pouring with rain again. Cold and soaked I waited at the next bus stop and headed straight back to the hostel to dry off and war up before walking down the road to the Te Papa museum after lunch. It is pretty impressive and huge. Having said that museums aren’t my thing and while I spent several hours there I think it was probably because the weather outside was so cold and miserable.
After I good nights rest I got up and went downstairs to find Buz, the Magic Bus driver, in the lounge. He should have left already but the Desert Road had been closed because of snow and so his departure was postponed until 10:00am. There was a break in the clouds so I fetched my sunglasses and walked up to the Beehive, the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, so called because it’s shape resembles that of a woven Beehive. They have free tours every hour on the hour. I had just missed the 10:00 o’clock start but caught them up and found it very interesting and well done. When I came out after the tour lo and behold it was snowing. For the first time in 35 years snow was falling at street level in Wellington. Thankfully for me it wasn’t too heavy but as I made my way back to the hostel everyone was coming out of their offices to get pictures taken of them standing in the snow. Back at the hostel Buz was still there his trip now having been cancelled. I just relaxed in the lounge watching TV and trying to stay warm. Then I went out for lunch only for it to start snowing hard again. It was also freezing so it was straight back to the hostel to lots of cups of tea trying to stay warm.
I did very little today with the weather still cold and rainy. Even woke up to hail on the street outside the hostel. I went out for lunch and went for a walk along the Waterfront looking across the bay to the snow on the mountains but then it started to rain again. It seemed like every time I went out to try to do something it would start raining or snowing – very frustrating. Then that evening while I was checking my mail I overheard at reception that the ferries between Wellington and Picton the next day had been cancelled because of 6 metre swells in the Cook Strait. I was supposed to be on one of those ferries and now I was going to be stuck in Wellington for another night, possibly two.
Annoyed that I might have to waste another day or two in a cold and wet Wellington, I woke up at 6:00am and checked the ferry call centre that said the 8:00am ferry was sailing. I quickly packed my bags and rushed downstairs where the receptionist said that as far as they knew all the ferries were still cancelled but that if they were running the shuttle would come past at 7:00. So I waited till 7:00, then 7:15 but then it was obvious the call centre was wrong and all the ferries were indeed cancelled. So I spent the rest of the day indoors staying warm and dry.
The decision to stay in Wellington and miss the bad weather seems to be backfiring on me. Now I’ll miss the next Magic Bus connection and have to spend an extra night in Picton. That’s if I even leave Wellington tomorrow which is still not guaranteed as massive swells persist in the Cook Strait.