North to South overnight

Welling­ton has a wealth of things to do, writes Sara Litch­field

Go Travel New Zealand - - Wellington -

Iam in Welling­ton ready to wish the North Is­land good­bye and take the Blue­bridge ferry over to the South Is­land - and I’m spoilt for choice for what to do be­fore I leave. Welling­ton is a vi­brant city with so much to en­ter­tain. In the morn­ing, I de­cide to see it from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, and take a short, scenic flight by heli­copter with Heli­force. They run ex­hil­a­rat­ing tours in the air, a dif­fer­ent and de­light­ful way to sam­ple the area from above. It’s bril­liant to see the city and its sur­round­ings from a bird’s eye view, not­ing all the stand­out land­marks in minia­ture and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the ocean on the doorstep. Now I’ve seen it from above, I sam­ple Welling­ton from the ground and get walk­ing. Lots of no­table places are close at hand. The botan­i­cal gar­dens are beau­ti­ful and, as a café con­nois­seur, I spend some happy hours on Cuba Street, sam­pling some of the best-made cof­fee in the coun­try, be­fore head­ing to Welling­ton Zoo. The zoo is a won­der­ful place to see na­tive wildlife brought here be­cause they wouldn’t have sur­vived in the out­side world, like the coura­geous one-legged kiwi. I es­pe­cially en­joy vis­it­ing the Lit­tle Blue Pen­guins at feed­ing time. These tiny but larger than life char­ac­ters were also res­cued and cared for by the vets here be­fore mak­ing it their per­ma­nent home. I still have time later in the af­ter­noon, and I head to the Te Papa mu­seum, an ab­so­lute must-see. Right in the cen­tre of the city, by the wa­ter­front, the mu­seum houses a mas­sive col­lec­tion of dis­plays and art­work

that take you through the his­tory, na­ture and cul­ture of the coun­try. My day draw­ing to a close, din­ner is a no brainer. I’ve heard about the amaz­ing menu at Shed 5 and have to go and sam­ple it be­fore I leave. Din­ing in the com­pany of a beau­ti­ful view of Lambton Har­bour, I or­der the mar­ket fish. Sourced and fil­leted by the in-house fish­mon­ger, it’s the fresh­est and most de­li­cious seafood you’ll en­joy any­where. I head to Water­loo Quay for my Blue­bridge ferry at 1am. The check-in is easy to find and well or­ga­nized. I don’t have to wait long be­fore em­bark­ing the Straits­man to take me away from the city and off to the South Is­land. The Straits­man is the new­est ship to make the cross­ing. Built in 2005, it joined Blue­bridge’s fleet in 2010. There is plenty of com­fort for night owls aboard, with com­pli­men­tary WiFi, a con­ve­nient café, and a can­teen serv­ing restau­rant-qual­ity food, all sourced in New Zealand. To re­lax, you can make your way to a quiet lounge or a fam­ily lounge, as well as a free movie lounge show­ing re­cent re­leases. The night scenery vis­i­ble to the sides of the ship is haunt­ing. There are also seats to nap in, sit­u­ated be­side the win­dows look­ing out at the night sea, but I’m very happy to re­tire to my cabin, with a soft bed and en suite bath­room, to rest for a few hours. I have no trou­ble fall­ing asleep. It’s a smooth voy­age and it seems in no time I hear the wake up call and go above to see the start of a stun­ning sun­rise over the Strait. Sail­ing through the Marl­bor­ough Sounds, I’m so glad to have made the cross­ing by sea rather than air. We dock in Pic­ton and I head to Blen­heim, the gate­way to wine coun­try, with all the de­lights of the South Is­land to look for­ward to.

Im­age: Janie Walker

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