Day #78 - Volcanoes & Vodka Martinis

Statue in Wellington
After the drama of last night's siren, we awoke to a lovely sunny morning and, after doing the usual morning chores that come with living in a campervan, we set off for the day. 

Since we were staying at the base of a volcano, it was only natural that we go and take look at it. 

Mount Ruapehu is the North Island's highest peak and is a majestic sight to behold. This active stratovolcano (guess who's been googling!) sits at the southern tip of the Taupō Volcanic Zone, within the Tongariro National Park. The road up to was a lovely drive due to the views and some lovely vegetation but sadly the final part of the road was closed due to road works. Nevertheless, we got as close as we could which still gave us a magnificent view. 

Mount Ruapehu is a sacred place for the Maori people, who believe it to be the home of the fire goddess Pele. 
Our next stop as we headed down the North Island towards Wellington was Peka Peka beach - for no other reason other than we liked the sound of its name! The beach itself was impressive and knocks spots off Weston-Super-Mare's beach but as far as New Zealand beaches go, it wasn't much to hang around for. 

However, we did spot this lovely waterfall during the next phase of the journey which is worth posting:

Next up, another beach. After another hour or so of driving we came into the town of xxxx and we wanted to find a beach to have our lunch. We came across Waikanae beach which offered a lovely view and we sat on a log and ate wraps made from last night's left overs. Sometimes the simple things give the most pleasure.

Our final destination and home for the night was the capital city of Wellington.  This city is pint-sized with a giant personality! This cool little place is nestled between green hills and a sparkling harbor which gives it a unique feel.

Our campsite was a little out of the centre of town and sadly was being affected by works at the local sewage plant meaning there was a slight odour in the air that wasn't the most fragrant.

After settling in, we took a taxi into town to see what Wellington had to offer. 

One attraction we wanted to experience was the famous cable car. This is a funicular railway that takes you on a scenic ride up the hills of Wellington. The cable car runs from Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, to Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city. 

The journey takes about five minutes and covers a distance of 612 meters, with an elevation gain of 120 meters. The maximum incline is 17.86%, which is quite steep! 

At the top, we enjoyed the views across the city and had a short walk through some of the botanical gardens - if we walked too much, it would have taken us back down the hill. We had a return ticket for the cable car and wanted our money's worth!

When we did finally descend we spent time wandering around Wellington's waterfront which was a mix of bars and restaurants, already busy with early evening Friday trade. We stopped at one water for some dinner (our first meal out in about a week) and then headed a little more into the city.

We came across a charming, speakeasy style cocktail bar that we really enjoyed. They had a lovely jazz trio playing and some funky cocktails to sample. Don't ask my what I had (they were delicious) not because I had so many I can't remember, but because I am terrible with names at the best of times!

We stayed for two cocktails each and then really felt the need to head back to the van for a good night's sleep. It's a. Exciting day tomorrow.