After I was chucked out by the ropey cafe in late-night Hamilton, I headed back to the transport centre, but this seemed a bit dodgy late at night, probably due to its location opposite the ‘Peaches and Cream Adult Megastore – Open Til Late’. So I headed to the only place open nearby, which turned out to be a crazy Japanese tea shop. Great, I thought, I’ll have a lovely hot cup of green tea to warm myself up, and this is what I got, over ice:
It actually turned out to be a taste revelation – really refreshing. Plus the cafe turned out to be a great place to kill time. At first I tried to plough through some more of the angsty Janet Frame book I’m reading (she’s a NZ author and I’m loving her work, but it can be a bit hard-going sometimes, especially if you’re tired), but I soon became first distracted, and then completely absorbed, by the Asian music channel blaring from the television. The videos were hilarious – epic and melodramatic, with outfits that made Bjork look a bit M&S, and lots of beautiful young lovers staring earnestly into the middle distance with furrowed brows. Some were brilliantly badly dubbed into American English too. I highly recommend some viewing if you ever need cheering up.
After that brief comedy interlude I finally boarded the night bus and passed a fitful night’s sleep, with an odd assortment of fellow passengers, finally arriving, bleary-eyed, into Wellington at 7:45am this morning. Wellington is the self-styled NZ capital of cool, and also notoriously windy, and so far it’s living up to its reputation on both counts. I am writing this in one of the many funky cafes here, listening to some sublime Nina Simone, and sipping my (now daily – eek) flat white coffee – I definitely need it this morning.
After arriving here I dropped my luggage off at the ferry terminal and headed along the waterfront with the morning commuters, to explore downtown. The majority of commuters seemed to be either very quirkily stylish creative types (outfits ranging from vintage, preppy to downright barmy) strolling along in the crisp morning sunshine, or serious-looking joggers and cyclists looking like they meant business. For once, I felt I was too slow for New Zealand.
Wellington strikes me as the Bristol of NZ – it seems really arty, alternative, funky and cool. Lots of young people (there’s a big university here too), artwork, sculptures, interesting architecture, plus great people-watching opportunities (I saw someone actually doing parcours for the first time ever, closely followed by a two guys dressed up as clowns doing some amazing diabolo). I joined the eccentrics by doing some yoga in the park – well, it was a park according to Lonely Planet, but I found it had mostly been torn up and made into apartments and parking… 😦 But I found a small patch of grass and it was lovely. Definitely enjoying the al fresco yoga life – not sure how that’s going to work out back in chilly Blighty though.
I think Wellington would be the kind of place that it would be good to live in for a while – there’s probably lots more going on below the surface to discover – lots of sub-cultures and multi-layered living. Unfortunately I have a mere four hours, so it’s time I left this cafe. I’ve inserted a few photos to sum up Wellington’s quirkiness, and I’ve also decided to start ‘Yogacam’, whereby I’ll take a photo of all the new places I do yoga so you can see my yoga view.
Yogacam #1 (not really an inspiring one to start on):
As an addendum – it’s now the evening and I’m in the lovely little harbour town of Picton on the South Island, having arrived by ferry this afternoon (I’m ashamed to say I slept through most of the journey, but I checked, and no whales or dolphins were spotted today, phew). I’ve jammily blagged some free wi-fi in a very cool wine bar with live jazz, and I look really scruffy too – all for the price of a rather fine hot chocolate, poor me. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I may now be out of contact for a while, as I am doing a two day hike along the Queen Charlotte Track on Marlborough Sound tomorrow, followed immediately by three days kayaking in the Abel Tasman area, but I’ll be back with you for more updates as soon as I can… xx