26 October 2012

Wellington, New Zealand

View of Wellington from the Botanical Gardens

I was told that I would love Wellington, and I did.  It did not disappoint.  I have a friend, Sam, that lives there and was fortunate to stay with him for a week while I just chilled out and played tourist on some days, a local on others.  I’ve been traveling for so long, it was nice to have a place that felt like home and a familiar friend to spend time with.  Wellington is one cool city filled with bars, lots of bars!  And some really good restaurants, lots of amazing music,  awesome views and hikes, beautiful botanical gardens, and of course, more Lord of the Rings stops…. well, the hub really.  The place where they do their film editing and make their props is located in Wellington, so if you’re into LOTR, you gotta drop by and take a look even if you don’t do the official tours around New Zealand. 

One great thing about New Zealand, is that they have AMAZING craft beers.  Sam works in a fantastic bar, called Hashigo Zake that is located in the basement level of a building and it feels so warm and intimate there, a perfect place to be to have a great beer on a rainy night, hang with a group of friends, or have a nice little date there.  Did I mention that they have some really good food?  Yeah, and Sam makes a lot of it.  We’re talking about awesome meat pies and such here.  The beer selection rotates based on seasonal offerings daily.  Yep, daily.  Cool thing is, you can even meet some of the brewers there as it really is the number one spot for craft beers in Wellington… ok, maybe in my opinion.  I was fortunate enough to be there during an event they were putting on with a brewery called Garage Project.  Garage Project is a cool, super tiny “nano” brewery that makes small batches of beer in a garage.  They keep it simple and quality.  They decided to make 24 beers in 24 weeks.  I got to try a few.  Hands down, stellar.  So if you’re ever in Wellington, you gotta go to Hashigo and you gotta try whatever those guys recommend.  The people who work there know their shit.  Most have a background in brewing so they’re not your typical backpacker bartender.  A must go to!

Another pretty awesome thing one can do in Wellington is go to the Botanical Gardens.  Bonus: it’s free.  You can take a nice little cable car ride up (not free) or walk up… or take a bus or hot air balloon or whatever up.  Point is, it’s pretty nice up there and you should go see it.  They feature different vegetation from all over New Zealand and the park is a perfect place to have some nice long walks and gawk at the gardens, or have a picnic, or go for an outdoor lunch at the café there.  I spent half the day just wandering around there. 

While I forgot which day of the week the farmers market is there on the wharf, it’s something worth going to.  Granted, I couldn’t exactly go buy a bunch of food to cook since I’m traveling, but you know how I love going to markets to check out the  local produce.  Plus, they have some really good food you can have for lunch for a decent price (New Zealand is not cheap, yo!).

One last awesome thing to do while in Wellington is going to the Museum of New Zealand.  Another bonus: free.  They have some great exhibits about the history of  life of New Zealand (obviously) along with exhibits on their animals, land, geothermal activity, and earthquakes.  This is earthquake country.  Wellington gets something like one earthquake a week.  As much as I am not a museum go-er, this is one I highly recommend.  It’s really interesting, interactive, informative, and fun.  Yes, fun!

Ok, this is random.  The things people do for their dogs...

From a walk up to the top of Oriental Parade

Hashigo Zake: 25 Taranaki Street, between Wakefield and Courtenay.  http://hashigozake.co.nz/ 
If you want some good food recommendations, talk to Sam at the bar.  Former chef and knows good food.  


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