Sunsets and Suburban Trains

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21/01/08
Hi folks. Greetings from windy Wellington! I know I’m a day or two behind in posts, and I’ll try to rectify that for you now. The posts won’t really be super-long, so hopefully they’ll be in bite-size format for all my ADD friends 😉 After Otaki Beach, my next main stop was Wellington, which is of course the capital of New Zealand, so in that regard, not unlike my own current hometown of Ottawa, Canada. As such, I figured there would be a number of different things that I’d likely do there that I wouldn’t be doing anywhere else. I was also looking forward to a couple days with less biking, as my knee is starting to bother me more again. It’s really annoying, as it seems that no amount of ibuprofen does anything for it, neither does my gel that I bought, or massaging it. Oh well, as long as I can keep pedaling, it’ll just have to wait until my return, right? Ha ha. Anyway, I put a little map together of the trip into Wellington, including the time on the train. Yup, my first NZ train. Read on for more.

As you’ll probably see from the pictures now up on Flickr (thank you reliable Internet connection), the night before, I had an incredible sunset on the beach at Otaki, which I shared with my big bottle of beer, and my little harmonica, which I did my best to coax nice sounds out of, so as not to embarrass myself around the other beach-goers. I spent probably an hour sitting on a stump on the beach, watching all the phases of the sunset, from descent to setting, to clouds, to dusk. I think it’s the first time in my life I really just sat there and watched a full sunset. I guess sometimes, you just have to stop and take the time to enjoy something like that, right? Well, I did, although being ActiveSteve, I can’t be sure I’ll have the patience to sit through too many of those. But, as I was on a sort of remote beach with nothing else to do, that was my free entertainment for the night!

I awoke the next morning to the unfortunate sound of falling rain on my tent. Damn. I hate when I have to put the tent away wet. Oh crap, that reminds me, my tent is still wet, I better go unpack it. Hang on a second….okay. Now that’s been taken care of. So, I reluctantly got up, and packed up the things inside my tent. Luckily, it stopped raining while I was doing that, so I was able to shake the tent dry a little bit. I stuffed everything into my trusty little yellow trailer, and rolled on out of Otaki Beach. Well not before devouring a cheese scone and can of sliced pineapple I’d picked up the day before.

Back on the road, I shortly found myself on the SH1 highway, the main artery of the North Island. It was a public holiday, so traffic was actually quite heavy for a Monday, as people were heading back home from their long weekends. There were also a lot of heavy trucks. Of course, it was still only one lane in each direction, with not much of a shoulder. That sealed the deal for me. I decided I’d take my book’s advice and stop in Paraparaumu to grab a train into Wellington for the last 50km, which goes around some pretty big hills that I would have otherwise had to bike. That made my day’s biking only about 30km, but I wasn’t complaining. Once at Paraparaumu, I sweet-talked a tourist info lady into letting me use her computer and Internet connection to check my emails. Then it was off to the train.

Hmm, train. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch I think. The train consisted only of two cars, as it was a holiday. I was concerned about my chances of getting my bike on. However, the conductor was nice enough to open up the space behind the drivers cabin, and we fit the bike and trailer in, with him even helping me lift the trailer in. The total price for my 50km subway trip? 13NZD. 9 for me, and 4 extra for bike and trailer. Not too bad. The ride was pretty nice, and I got to ogle at the hills I got to miss. I smiled. I don’t really love having to do hills all the time down here. I’m no hero, I just wanna get the job done.

Once in Wellington, I made my way to tourist info to get a bead on the address where I would be staying, and it was only about a kilometer from the city core, which is awesome. Of course, it is on Mount Victoria, which meant a hill. However, it wasn’t a huge one, and the payoff is a bed to sleep in, free Internet and laundry, and great hosts in Travis, Rachel, and Ben. Thanks guys. The house is sort of like Scrubs in real life. Everyone in this house (the 4th, Matt, is away, hence my bed) is either a doctor or nurse, and they’re all pretty young. I didn’t think anyone would be home, but Travis and Ben both were, so I got shown around, and got to unpack and get settled in. That’s why I got all my pictures up for you. I spent most of my first day just catching up on all that stuff.

Travis had stepped out, but when he got back at around 6pm, we headed out for some supper, then off to the Botanical Gardens with a couple of his friends to check out some live music, which was a Cuban / Latin Jazz fusion sort of band. It was pretty good stuff, but with the rather poor weather, the crowds weren’t too large, which was nice. This park reminded me of the New Plymouth night, as Wellington also is having one of these festival of lights, where they decorate the park for the occasion, and have lots of free shows. It was certainly a nice way to spend my first night.

Next day was to be my Welly touring day, and you’ll just have to read that post to hear about it. Till then, you stay cool!

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