“The grumpy ones all last the longest,” Dean said gloomily as he looked at Calvin the cat. Calvin is an old irascible ginger who obstructs the way just so that you can’t walk through a doorway, who glares and stares for longer than is polite, and bites when he gets cross. But he seems to like human company as long as they constantly stand about 5 metres away from him.
Dean (along with his partner Jeff) is our latest English-turned Kiwi proprietor up on Majoribanks St/Lawson Place with an acerbic sharp tongue and a dramatic flair who is first in line to shoot odd but bloody hilarious comments on the Australians. Australia, he lamented, would be a really nice place to live without the Australians, and is fairly resentful of the New Zealand government’s attempt to make the slow, genteel country more like its larger, richer rival. He hated the heat in Brisbane and moved to Wellington where the weather was “just perfect”, and is hell-bent on covertly building a mini BnB empire in the city while running a cafe in Lower Hutt.
It was in that fashion that we ended our journey round the East cape and Hawkes Bay – 1234km so far in the trip. A short stop at Te Mata peak has given me some bragging rights after going up those cliffs. In a Maori legend of food and love, the giant Te Mata O Rongokako decided to woo a chieftain’s beautiful daughter who set him many impossible tasks which he needed to accomplish, one of which was eating his way through a nearby hill. Alas, nature overpowered him in the most innocuous of ways; he choked on a large rock and lies till today, in the undulating landscape.
Then it was a long but fairly easy straight road onto Wellington – NZ’s capital city – for the next 300 or so km but not before a short art gallery stop at lower Hutt. It’s compact, arty and windy and built into the surrounding hills, which makes walking both enjoyable and tiring.
Several museums later – the impressive City Gallery and the Te Papa Tongarewa – walking became quite the cross to carry after we spent the day making it up to the cable car station, down again, and back up to Mt Victoria lookout through some steep slopes. It’s nevertheless, an attractive city, with walks to die for at dusk along the oriental parade where the coast bends enough so that the glittering lights of the city shine from the opposite banks.