Day 22. Monday 27 November.
Three weeks ago Keith drove us to the airport in the rain. Since then, we’ve had fine weather, with just one overnight rain storm that cleared by morning (or at least by the time we arose, which was a bit later).
A final flurry to clean the van, although we’d paid for the Express Checkout which included all those chores such as emptying grey and black water tanks etc. It wasn’t quite so express, as the van was checked out before we were cleared and advised that our ‘deposit’ of $NZ 7,500/$AS 6,920 (the excess insurance which was actually taken out of our credit rather than quarantined) had been re-credited. As at the writing of this report, the money hasn’t appeared back in our account, although it instantaneously went into theirs three weeks ago: why doesn’t that surprise us? D has quietly fumed about this set up for three weeks, on and off. The alternative was to pay a bit under $1,000 as to eliminate the excess – non-refundable – but that seemed silly as our Travel Insurance already covered us up to $6,000 for any vehicle excess. And the bit that really stung was that we were charged bank fees ($207.60) to do this!
But there was a courtesy bus to the airport – we arrived in plenty of time, so after the automatic check –in, a couple of hours to wait. There’s probably no more dispiriting place to while away a few hours than airport – any airport. Eventually boarded and departed – without any security screening at all. Smooth flight into Wellington, then quite a long drive to our hotel in Petone, on the other side of the harbor. The traffic was dense, and after the courtesy and ease of the South Island experience, a bit of a shock – like being in Canberra, with tail-gating the norm and very little give and take. But we made it.
A lovely meal at the Brewer and Butcher Hotel opposite the hotel then try to get to sleep in an overheated room with no aircon. How spoiled we are!
Day 23. Tuesday 28 November.
The day is partly driven by D’s work commitment at 1 PM for the job he no longer has (to write a unit history). He is to interview a NZ Army member who with breakfast at the Seaside Cabaret café on the waterfront. We’d driven the length of the Esplanade in search of a café with water views and had bemoaned the failure. Then, in an old rowing shed complex there was a café sign. Up the stairs, following the noise and there, inside it was frenetic as customers and staff milled, rushed and babbled in a ‘hip’ scene a bit like A Bite to Eat in Chifley. The breakfasts were delicious and we sat on the verandah looking out across the bay toward the city.
T then took herself off for a haircut and a wander around Petone which is a strange mix of working class cottages, small tradies businesses, a vibrant restaurant strip, with boutiques and op-shops. D prepared for the interview, which, in due course, was completed most satisfactorily.
T, in the meantime, walked the length and breadth of Petone. The beach could have been inviting were it not for the dark brown shoreline…something spilled? No, some kind of vegetable matter washed from? Several swimmers were in and by the end of the afternoon, many were having a frolic. The day was perfect for Wellingtonians…unbelievably warm & cloudless. T heard that there had not been a summer last year and here it was November and quite hot!
In the late afternoon we venture out to photograph the wharf which has been closed since the earthquake 12 months ago.
Then it’s time to select a dinner spot. T wants a steak and D obliges; he chooses a Cowboy combo of brisket and pork shoulder. The meat, music and vino at Kansas City BBQ was just right.
Now, we have 2 fans oscillating in our room, just stirring the air.