My return to the North island, eagerly awaiting the chance to explore Wellington again, and to finally get my long overdue Nandos fix. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday 13/04/08

Hooray, my diary is back up to date! We woke up this morning, and quickly proceeded into Picton to catch the ferry back to the North island. We only had time for one photo-stop and one quick breakfast stop. Grabbed a Subway in Picton, got on the boat, and bought a ticket for the film “Jumper” starring Hayden Christenson. Needed to kill time on the boat somehow.

Now I’m sat on the side of the boat, writing this, and trying to not follow the smell of food. I don’t need to eat, and I want to save myself for Nandos later tonight. Shouldn’t be too long until we’re there now. Tonight, I will have to sit in the YHA lounge or my room and finish this conspicuous bottle of wine by myself. Drunkard.

(Writing Monday 14th, in Te Papa Museum, waiting on a brew.)

So, I didn’t touch the wine in the end. And I did cave in and buy a horrible sausage roll to eat on the boat. 

Getting back into Wellington was nice and easy. A chap called Bodz was there waiting for us in a super rickety bus. Checked into the YHA, went online, then decided to head out for my long awaited Nandos. I looked at The Embassy Theatre to see what films they may have had on, but they only had “No Country For Old Men” (seen it on the plane, boring) and “The Spiderwick Chronicles” (not my thing) so I’ll probably end up in a multiplex watching a blockbuster of some kind if I choose to see anything at all.

Had the idea of changing my flight; I was quite set upon the idea yesterday, even messaging Hazel to say so. I suppose I was just feeling lonely and a bit let down.

To cheer myself up, I went for that much needed Nandos…. Which turned out to be a disaster! First of all, they had run out of grilled Chickens. Not what I wanted to hear at all. They only have 3 restaurants in the entire country, so you think they could get it right! I feel like writing an angry letter to Nandos corp when I get home! So, I ordered a Chicken Pitta instead, extra hot. I didn’t taste ANY spice on it at all. The extra hot sauce was just smoky / American style, not like back here, so I switched down to hot hoping for a different flavour. I was getting on with the pitta as best I could, and as I reached the end of my chicken breast, I found that the meat was…. Pinkish. Being British, and relying on my stomach to see me through (it is chilli reinforced after all) I didn’t complain. I just left without saying anything.

I then saw a punk rocker unravelling an entire roll of toilet paper down the street. I didn’t stick around to find out why!

Greg and Co had said they maybe in the Base Bar, so I went there for one, thinking if nobody was around I always had my wine and the PSP to keep myself busy. Instead, the guys (well girls) from Kaikoura Night #01 were there, then the Kaikoura night #02 guys turned up saying there was a quiz. We all ganged up and came an impressive second place. We probably would have won if our team could have downed the pint fast enough, or was capable of drawing ruder pictures.

I had a fair few drinks and games of pool before Stephanie and Kate decided they wanted to see some other bars in Wellington. Being 2:00 am, the street was empty, but we did find one bar that had two guys running it, that wasn’t allowed to shut until 3am. So, we got a drink and two swigs in, when Kate (whose idea it was to begin with) buggered off! So, Steph and I finished up and headed back to our respective hostels.

I managed to ring the Post Office and had just enough credit to ascertain that I haven’t “maxed out” but I am in “arrears.” I think I just have to make a minimum payment, so I’ll get online banking details later tonight.

SOUNDTRACK : “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
Because it turned out nice again.


The boat trip back North into Wellington doesn’t seem as impressive here as the original voyage from North-to-South had been. The former was full of mist, rain, gorgeous landscape, low-hanging clouds, and a sense of the unknown. The reverse trip evidently did not have the same effect! I was clearly focused on food (again) and wanting to kill time inside of a cinema. I must have gone for a wander on the boat though, as evidenced by writing the diary outside, and with a few meagre snaps being taken as we journeyed in.

It seems this was mostly a travel day, and all the action happened later that night. My Nandos adventure explains itself. I’ll only add a reminder that food really did become such an anchoring force in my travels, something familiar to latch onto. Food was something I could plan and look forward to, amidst everything else which was virtually a complete unknown. So, to wait weeks and weeks to get back to a Nandos restaurant, to enjoy a familiar dose of spicy chicken, only to then be told the chicken restaurant has run out of whole chickens was beyond a disappointment. Moving on.

I must have still been a bit wobbly about being on my own, to be considering changing my flights to come home early. It seems unthinkable now, ten years on, that I would be wanting to leave New Zealand for the sake of a few days. Perhaps this last leg of the trip felt different, as I was essentially following backwards in my own footsteps from this point on, re-tracing part of the original route through the North island to get back to Auckland, and my flight home. The next day, spent in Wellington during day-time hours, would be the only ‘new’ part of the remaining trip. Of course, this didn’t turn out to be the case, and I still found new adventures when I did get back into Taupo, but I’m guessing that was where my head was at.

I’m sorry to not have any pictures of Wellington nightlife beyond the backpacker hostel bar. I do vaguely recall finding a strange bar at 2am, which was up a flight of stairs and felt like we were in a grandiose loft-apartment more than anything. Though, this memory is hazy to say least, so who knows! In writing this diary and the commentary, I am yet to use the full power of Google Maps to try and amplify my recall, and to re-explore the streets of all the places I have been. Or by the time you are reading this, perhaps I have embedded a few Google maps for your perusal. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to find this mystery bar though!

Note that the credit card issues have still not been worked out…