Wednesday, 15th January 2020

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Took a taxi (expensive but simpler) from Wellington Airport to the Bolton Hotel which was really upmarket! I didn't have a room I had a suite of bedroom large bathroom lounge and kitchenette! The helpful concierge at the Bolton Hotel recommended Charley Noble's as a place to eat so I went there. Was seated at a counter overlooking the kitchen which was an entertainment in itself. Everything so often the head chef would shout something and the team shout back. A hive of harmonious activity governed by slips of paper. To keep the waitress happy I had a Kahlua sponge which I didn't really need. Wellington has steep slopes, and a good range of restaurants.

January 16th 2020

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Caught the shuttle from Wakefield Street to Weta Workshop for the tour which was the main reason for coming to Wellington. I'm impressed by the work Weta Workshop have done, we did see one guy working on something for a new Jurassic Park film. I learnt they did film and TV like District 9 and Wandering Earth and Netflix Dark Crystal which I didn't know. But in all honesty the extras on film DVDs give you more than the tour I did. Weta Workshop had a new tour for the Thunderbirds they're doing, that might have been great but I only thought too late of asking to augment my ticket.

On returning from Weta Workshop I took the cable car through psychedelic tunnels up to the large botanical gardens which are on a steep slope. I didn't fully explore the gardens as I feared I would wear myself out. Had a second breakfast there. Went to Te Papa for an Alice in Wonderland exhibition, very nicely done with an imaginative tea party and plenty of well presented materials. Dined at the Chinese Dumpling Company place near the hotel on 16 dumplings with oolong tea. A little guesswork on what I was going to get.

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Went to do a night tour at Zealandia, the taxi drivers wanted cash but not the NZD100 bill I had. I left my water at the hotel, almost had to buy water container but they sold bottled water. We saw one kiwi foraging, they nest or burrow beneath trees, staff put twigs in before burrow to see if in use. Saw several tuataras on bank behind wall, one had stumpy tail. Saw more glow-worms, heard morepork owls (named after their call), tuis out at dusk, saw shags, saw an eel which apparently has a lifecycle of going near Tonga to spawn and die. We all had a red torch and radio on the tour, were treated to Kawa Kawa tea afterwards. Zealandia is a big area. It contains an old dam which was used as a water supply for Wellington but disused as it is on a fault line. They have biosecurity measures to keep stoats and cats and rats and the like out.

The tour party was mostly Americans who seemed to use Uber rather than taxis - perhaps the way to go?