It’s been an insane week since Auckland. It definitely took too long to get out of Auckland but once I did it was non-stop high-flying New-Zealand tourist-action. Another backpacker rightfully called me a “turbo-tourista” when I explained my itinerary. I got it all done though, so now read on and relive my experience!

The bus from Auckland to Wellington takes all day, 8am to 8pm. It winds through the center of the north island through field after field of sheep pastures and grain, hills of green grass and the occasional small town. I don’t have any good pictures from the drive but don’t worry, I’ll post plenty of New Zealand countryside pictures from the south island in my upcoming posts. It’ll really knock your socks off. I found a seat next to Kayleb, a 21-year-old from Maine who has spent each of the last 5 years working in a different country. He has just arrived in NZ and was headed for the south island to find a farm or something to work on. I mostly just read A Song of Ice and Fire on my Kindle and watched Starcraft 2 videos on my laptop because I am a nerd.

When we arrived in Wellington Kayleb and I found a hostel, and I was about to go find free internet somewhere to contact my soon-to-be travelmate for the south island when there she appeared next to me at reception!

note: this picture not taken at reception

I found Lisa on after I posted that I was looking for a travel partner for 5 days on the south island. After checking in we worked out an itinerary at a bar full of loud 18 year olds fresh off the Kiwi Experience bus (glad I didn’t take that) and prepared for the week. The first stop was a day in Wellington (bottom of the north island) and a ferry to Picton (top of the south island). We left our backpacks in storage at the hostel and went to the New Zealand history museum in Wellington called Te Papa Tongarewa. There was a lot to see! We stayed for over two hours. Here are some highlights.

They have this big room with a giant map lit up on the floor. You can walk all over it and see the islands from above.

A lot of the museum was dedicated to the history of the Maori people. Like most indigenous peoples, the Maori inhabited all New Zealand until Europeans came and kicked them out of everywhere but the remotest islands. They have a rich history and over the years New Zealand grew to appreciate Maori culture and are in the process of returning large amounts of land. Many exhibits in the museum focused on the art, tools and carvings that the Maori developed.

New Zealand has a lot of volcanoes, mostly inactive, and they’ve put a lot of work into forming and shaping the islands. We went into the earthquake simulation room of the museum about the same time that a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch 200 miles south. The earthquake has destroyed much of the central business district of Christchurch and hundreds of people have died. It is a terrible thing to have happened but thankfully I was not harmed. My heart goes out to all those affected.

Outside of the museum I posed for a picture with downtown Wellington behind me.

Next we took a cable car ride up a big hill to the botanical gardens. The city seems to take pride in its cable car and it has its own museum next to the garden.

The botanical gardens are good for a nice walk but they’re nothing special. It also started raining pretty hard, but not until we were a good twenty minutes away from the entrance. I did find one thing to take a picture of, a beautiful woman shrouded in wooden mystery:

The ferry took three hours and was rather cold. I caught up in my journal after snapping a quick shot with rainy Wellington in the background.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for a grand south island adventure! Forests and fields and lakes and rivers and a ridiculous driving debacle. I can’t wait.

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