Rain and wind attack the car as we drive toward Wellington from Martinborough. While there are dark clouds in several directions, we find ourselves in a patch of sunny though rainy weather. A bright rainbow appears to our left and eventually becomes a full arch. We actually get close enough to the end of it to give thought to looking for a pot of gold. It disappears quickly as clouds darken the sky and we begin to climb into the mountains we need to cross. What lies ahead with this wind that has already proven it can shake the car like crazy?
Winding roads with signs that warn of “slippery when wet” and other signs that remind you that even in good weather the area can be windy only cause Bob to white knuckle the steering wheel and me to silently say a little prayer. We make it through and come out the other side to the same kind of weather. I had hoped it would change once we were over the mountains.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is a large city like Auckland. It stretches out through a valley that we enter once we are through the mountains. These are the suburbs according to our map. It is a nice area to travel and the roads have straightened out a bit making it a little easier on the driver.
Lady Garmon leads us to our motel for the night which sits on a hill and overlooks the city. It would seem a nice view but not with horizontal rain whipping across everything. The Capital View Motor Inn has seen better days, I’m sure. We can tell by the lobby what to expect before even getting to our room which is not ready for us yet. We leave the car in the parking lot, bundle into our all-weather coats, and strike out for the information center a few blocks away.
We just miss the hop-on hop-off bus that we had planned to ride around. Another isn’t due for an hour and if we were to hop off anywhere, we are told there would be an hour wait for the next one. In this rain? No way. Instead we opt to hoof it to the cable car we wanted to ride which is about a ten minute walk. Much of the way is under cover of awnings provided by the shops, restaurants and businesses. The cable car ride up the mountainside is nice. The car is reminiscent of the early 1900s when the trams and cable cars were first built. A free museum at the top features several of the original cars and a great history of cable cars and trams in all of New Zealand. We enjoy a movie and the scenes depicted of the early 1900s.
Across from the museum is a little café with a view—well, the view would be wonderful if the wind was not whipping the rain around again. It is hard to complain too much when we have had nearly perfect weather to this point. We make light of trying to walk a straight line when the wind threatens to lift us off our feet. I now understand what those crazy weathermen feel like when they are out in a hurricane reporting on the wind and rain.
After a nice sandwich of chicken, cranberry sauce, and brie on a long roll along with a cup of tea, we take the cable car back down. Originally we’d planned to walk down but I am afraid we might actually fly without wings if we try to walk.
At the bottom we explore our options again and decide to return to the Information Center and ride the bus around without getting off. The loop is supposed to take two hours and by then our room should be ready. When we go to get our tickets, we find that the bus is sold out. They try to talk us into a tour that costs more and is longer and doesn’t leave for another hour. Much as I don’t like museums, in weather like this and given the choice, I opt for the free museum in town rather than an expensive bus ride in the rain.
The Te Papa museum turns out to be delightful. There are all sorts of exhibits that show some funky wearable art, New Zealand’s geology as well as its plants and animals, a bit of Maori history, some political history, and one very huge giant squid. We wander through for almost two hours staying nice and dry and not being blown about.Once outside again, I long for some shelter. The wind has not let up. The rain comes and goes. Surprisingly it is not terribly cold as you might imagine. We cross the pedestrian bridge again, find our way past the IC and back to the Motor Inn. Our room is ready and just as I imagined, it is a bit old and well used. But it’s clean and tidy and we’re only spending one night.
A pizza and a short walk in the evening and we try to settle in for the night. The wind is absolutely howling around our corner room. The rain is heavier and beats against the window. Television is impossible to watch as it is satellite and the reception completely breaks down every couple of minutes. “Looks like we’re watching through a kaleidoscope,” Bob quips. We opt to play cards.
Drip. Drip. Drip. I look around to see if I left the faucet on in the kitchenette’s sink. Nope. Then my sock suddenly feels wet. I’ve stepped in a puddle on the floor. The source, it turns out, is the window. The rain is being whipped through the cracks around the window and is beginning to create its own little stream across the counter and onto the floor. I take the extra bath towel and do my best to plug the flow.
Bedtime and the wind is still howling but now we also have ambulance or police or fire sirens on a regular basis. I suspect there’s a hospital nearby or perhaps the wind has finally taken down some wires or trees or something. It takes a long time but we eventually fall asleep and wake early in the morning to find that the wind has taken a rest. The rain still falls but not as bad. Perhaps there’s hope for a good ferry ride to the South Island this morning.