Tag Archives: Wellington

Haere Ra Aotearoa


So ends our little sojourn in Noble Zealand; six months and one week since we arrived, and 22 hours until we leave.


And what a time we’ve had. No car crashes, no thefts (touch wood), no more tattoos, two birthdays, one lost wallet, one submerged watch, two pierced ears, a lot of pies, and a fair few hellos and goodbyes. Although we’d like to think we now understand the meaning of life and we are fully qualified to impart our VAST knowledge onto others, we’re pretty sure this is not the case. So instead of a ‘here’s what we’ve learnt’ polemic, we thought a little summary of the best and the rest might be more palatable…


Best: The Tree House, Hokianga, North Island. Exactly what it says on the tin, a hostel in a tree house. Remote, quiet, beautiful.

Worst: Any Base X hostel. Only suitable if you’re 18, enjoy listening to Journey and Bon Jovi on repeat and don’t mind the reek of adolescence. 

The Tree House, Hokianga - for some reason the only picture we took here was in the garden. Duh.

The Tree House, Hokianga – for some reason the only picture we took here was in the garden. Duh.


Best: Gillespie’s Beach, Just outside Fox, South Island. Camping at a beach on the wild west coast with the Southern Alps a seeming stone’s throw away, this was unrivaled in terms of scenery.

Worst: Donegal’s, Kaikoura, South Island. The campsite is a car park. Have you ever tried putting pegs into gravel? It DOESN’T WORK.

Dawn at Gillespie's Beach. Told you it was good..!

Dawn at Gillespie’s Beach. Told you it was good..!

OK.. Base X might’ve been terrible, but we did manage to make lasagna.


Best: Miford Sound, Fjordland, South Island. There are few drives in the world where the scale and beauty of the scenery makes you stop, drop your jaw on the floor, and release a volley of expletives at every turn. But this one will. You have been warned.

Worst: Wairariki Beach, Golden Bay, South Island. As if driving alongside a sheer cliff drop isn’t terrifying enough, much of the road had crumbled and caved in down the hillside so you had to crawl along the wrong side of the road hoping desperately that it would hold. Not the most relaxing of drives.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Doing a victory handstand because the scenery was SO GOOD!

Doing a victory handstand on the Fjordland / Milford drive because the scenery was SO GOOD!


Best: Anything at Blue Carrot Catering – especially the pork belly, savory muffins and RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE. Nyom.

Worst: Packet noodles and processed cheese sandwiches. Our stable diet for about 2 months. When everything you eat is yellow, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong.


Best: The Mussel Inn, Golden Bay, South Island. Quaint, homely, eco-friendly (standard), brews it’s own beers and serves seafood. What more could you want?

Worst: The Queens Street Tavern, Auckland, North Island. You know when you arrive in a new city and you don’t know where to go and you somehow end up in a dodgy pub with evil stares and pokie machines? Well, that about summarizes our experience in the QST. Bad shout.

The Mussel Inn


Best: A Porsche Margarita – a sparkling tasty treat given as a free birthday offering after our shift at Flying Burrito Brothers.

Worst:  Michelada – Another FBB concoction but this time they didn’t do so well.This Tex-Mex mix of Sol, lemon juice and salt is about as far from the bona fide Mexican drink as you can get. Don’t try this at home.


Best: Macs Ginger Brew – delicious alcoholic ginger beer. Crabbies better watch out.

Worst: Boundary Road Lawn Ranger – Beer with lime added in the bottle. Tastes like an alcopop gone wrong.


Best: The Gods Drink Whiskey, Stephen T. Asma – a somewhat irreverent yet highly informative study on the application of Buddhism in Cambodia. Maybe not the best ‘relax-with-a-good-story’ read, but stuffed with facts and ridiculously well written.

Worst: Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, Barbara and Alan Pease. Don’t. Just don’t.


Best: The Intouchables – Yes, yes, we know this is French. But it’s still AWESOME.

Worst: Lymelife – Another depressing American Beauty spin-off starring Macaulay Culkin’s brothers. There is a reason why they aren’t famous.


Best: Starting off Christmas day with a glass of bubbles, a Bavarian sausage and the paddling pool. There’s a first time for everything…!

Worst: Being really hungry and having no money in Dunedin but consoling ourselves in the knowledge that there was a packet of cookies on the back seat of the car. However, what we didn’t know was that there was actually both a bag with cookies in it and a bag of rubbish on the back seat of the car. Somehow, SOMEONE had managed to mix up the bags earlier, and we ended up with no cookies, smelly rubbish and A WHOLE LOT OF ANGER.

Dunedin - site of the cookie fiasco

Dunedin – site of the cookie fiasco



(please note how it sounds like the lyrics are, ‘tidy as a sunbed’. See also if you can find the part that sounds like ‘shit job, thriller’. We never tired of this)

We may still be unaware of the meaning of life and path to follow and so on and so forth, but what we do know is that our trip would not have been what it was without all the people that we met and helped us on the way. They know who they are, but just in case they don’t, we would like to thank them…

Hobnob, Carl, Fiona, Anita, Jacqueline and all the extras at Prospect Terrace – home from home; Bart and Lucy, Parker, Tux and Boots; Randolph, Laura, Helena, Ira and Aly and the AIR BED; Miss Alice Mahy and Josh, Clover and Sabbath; Rosie Bates, her lovely housemates and the soft grass in the back garden; Gordon, Nicole, Aidy, Mark, Stefan, Kir, Hayden and everyone working at Blue Carrot; Dawie, Rahul, Bernie, Kuldeep, Joe, Josephine and the other Flying Burrito Brothers; Siggy, Marina, Ole, Amy, Sophie, Jostein and Rafa – the dream team; Mama Bilton and Jeffies old, new, future and honorary – Adam, Barbara, Georgie, Igor, Jasmine, Clare, Kim, Tawanda, Jen, Vaughn, Jeff, Oz, Mothership, Tonka and Tinkerbell; Anna and Simon, the brains behind the Masterton Expedition as well as the expedition-eers themselves, Lester, Charlie and other dice-weilding crazies; Joe the photographer who picked us up and managed to score us two free ferry tickets; Tom from the Welsh Bar and his disgusting cocktails; Soren and Thomas – we’ll see you at Rosskilde; Sam the German hitchhiker who was amazing company and knew Quentin in Berlin; Mel and Ollie – laughed so much; Tim Fox intrepid explorer – next time we’ll see you in Cali; All the people who picked us up when hitchhiking and the many that casually offered us a place to stay when we were stuck.

(Some of) The Dream Team

(Some of) The Dream Team

Standard night in at Jefferson…

If we’ve forgotten anyone, we’re mighty mighty sorry and did not do it intentionally (unless you’re the guy who picked us up, drove like a maniac and then dropped us off miles from anywhere.. argughgugh). We’ve had a blast.


Extended vacation


It’s nearly the end of January, which means it’s nearly all over for our time in Wellington. T minus 1 day until the ferry over to Picton.


Having just finished our last sweaty restaurant shift as well as two very warmish weddings, we’re done with work for the time being. And no, this isn’t going to be a rub-your-faces-in-it-I-hope-you’re-all-enjoying-getting-up-at-ridiculous-o’clock-and-I-bet-it’s-still-cold-and-dark kind of post. Quite the opposite. Although the prospect of the next few work-free months is unbelievably exciting (for us, yes; bank account, not so much), we’re in fact pretty darn sad to be leaving our jobs. We may have complained about working every evening and never getting any time to spend with housemates, or smelling so badly of fajita that we almost sweat it, and having to start work at 6am (not cool), we know full well that we were very lucky with what we had…

The Flying Burrito Brothers; sweaty, stressful, smelly, yet so much fun at the same time.  AND we’ve both learnt Spanish. Slash we now know that queso means cheese. USEFUL.

Blue Carrot Cateringif you ever need a catering company in Wellington, USE THIS ONE. So profesh and organised and flexible and sweary and tasty and generally very VERY GOOD. Absolute win.


Plus casual shifts at Gaia Gardening, Te Papa (anti-recommendation) and various odd cleaning jobs. It’s all been DELIGHTFUL.



Cheers y’all.

The Wedding Haka?


What makes a good wedding?


A photogenically cute couple. A cake. With layers. Overly emotional speeches. Tears. A really nice dress. Bridesmaids. A drunken uncle. Loads of seriously dubious dance moves. A haka?


Although hakas may not chime with our notion of a typical wedding, our recent experience of a Samoan wedding right here in windy Wellington has proven that throwing in a couple on the big day is none too shabby.

Held in the Old Museum Building of Wellington’s Massey University, this was an insight into Kiwi life, Pacific life, and one hell of an experience (which has now bumped up our combined wedding attendance to a grand total of 3 weddings in 3 countries. Whoop) Although this time, we were on the serving rather than receiving side of the table.

Massey University, Wellington – where the reception was held

The blushing bride was Kiwi through and through; a beautiful, slight and sporty blond girl in an amazing backless light pink (very light pink) dress. Her dashing bridegroom was from Samoa, and was large on a Pacific-Islander scale. Which is ENORMOUS. Think Jonah Lomu holding a Polly Pocket.

For us, seeing a Kiwi wedding was good enough, but getting a chance to see how they combined Polynesian tradition was awesome. For a bit of background, Samoa is just under 3,000 km north west of New Zealand – an island chain lounging in the Pacific. Following hardcore missionary work from 1830 onward, religion is a pretty big deal in Samoa; which explains the  motto ‘Fa’avae i le Atua Sāmoa’ (Samoa is founded on God). Although Samoa incorporates a number of religious groups (including one of seven Ba’hai houses worldwide), nearly all are Christian with the majority belonging to the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa. The wedding, which was relayed to the reception on a big screen, as well as many in the wedding party were very religious, which meant a few fewer mojitos and a few more cranberry cocktails.


When the bridal party arrived, after the video had been played to the not-at-the-actual-ceremony guests, they were ushered into the hall with a hair-raisingly raucous haka from the ushers (no pun intended). A haka is traditionally used for battle (and before rugby matches..) but what we gathered from the charming mother of the groom, this Kapa Haka (Haka group) was purely for entertainment and as a form of ritual. Whatever the purpose, it was pretty effective not only in shutting everyone up but also showing respect to the bride and groom.


The rest of the reception continued in much the same manner as it does 18,000 km across the world. There were canapes and drinks and a sit down dinner and speeches and a lot of clapping, laughing and general getting-on-very-well-thank-you-very-much. However, as the speeches ended, the ushers once again performed a haka. Following this, there was the first dance. Instead of swaying woozily to ‘My Girl’, the bride stood up with her bridesmaid entourage and together they performed a dance, typical of the South Pacific, to the guests. The ushers and bridegroom whooped and shouted as they danced, presumably egging them on. As the dance came to a close, the groom and best man (slash MC) joined in, and fought (in dance off terms) for the bride’s attention. The groom of course won, and everyone cheered as the song came to a close and there was the long awaited kiss. Pretty romantic, don’t you think? Or a bit stressful if you’ve got a seriously good-looking best man. Accompanied by a dodgily dressed wedding DJ (they’re a funny breed), the party went on till the wee small hours. No worries, we all managed to amuse ourselves by stuffing cake (legit) into our mouths and then trying to serve the guests without laughing. Fun.

Gimmicky promo from a popular TV series in NZ, Shortland Street. The best man at the wedding is the dude third from the left. Of course it doesn’t actually mean ANYTHING to Celyn or I or any of you. But we’re not ones to pass up a name-dropping opportunity…!

In all, it was such a great insight into wedding traditions over here and I guess the best weddings are a combination of the original and the traditional, as well as respecting customs from both families. In this case, it worked a treat. Roll on next weekend when we’re working another..

Not-a-White Christmas (In the style of Seren Nia Thomas)


12.01 am Realise it’s Christmas halfway through a tremendously long yet very well orchestrated church service. Whisper Happy Christmas to each other and notice that Georgie has gone to sleep. Wake her and sing the descant to Hark the Herald.


1.00 am Leave the Cathedral. Be shocked at how obscenely warm it is outside.


1.07 am Get lost on the way home. Drive the wrong way up the motorway.


1.15 am Manage to get off said motorway.



1.17 am Get back onto said motorway, but this time in the right direction.


1.40 am Get home and sit by the fire before one by one we all fall asleep and go to bed.


2.00 am Wake up to speak to Celyn’s family.


2.32 am Wake up again to speak to everyone on the ‘Christmas Eve Walk’ in Chepstow. Except it’s not a walk, it’s in the pub. Spend about half an hour doing sign language and telling Tom Heggs how disappointed we are in him. See almost everyone’s tonsils – apparently when in doubt about what the other party is saying, just open your mouth at the camera. Sorted.


3.30 am Actually go to sleep.


4.45 am Wake up and remember it’s Christmas Day. Smack Celyn in the face and shout, ‘Santa’s Come’.


Go back to sleep.


10.12 am Get woken up by everyone storming about the house shouting, ‘Merry Christmas’. Realise that it’s boiling hot. Get dressed in inappropriately warm attire and go out to the garden.


10.13 am Go back inside and get dressed properly (swimming stuff and nothing else)


10.30 am Skype Edinburgh. Play the head game. Forget Miss Fritton’s first name. Remember it’s Camilla. WIN THE GAME.


11 am Pump up paddling pool. Drink champagne (even though it’s not champagne) and eat German Sausages and Pretzels. Or Bretzels as they are apparently known in Bavaria.


11.14 am Get into paddling pool. Continue eating sausages.


11.26 am Get out of paddling pool as there are 12 people in it.


11.35 am Watch Barbara and Jess have a wrestling match in the paddling pool. Switch to beer. Reapply suncream. Choose factor 50.


12 pm Eat a pigs-in-a-blanket croissant. Think of home. Have another beer.


12.40 pm Get a bit burnt. Sit at the bar out of the sun for a while.


12.41 pm Realise that the bar is no cooler than outside. Get back in to paddling pool.


1.00 pm Transfer Secret Santa presents from the sellotape Xmas tree to the bar. Have a debate about whether to open the presents or not.


1.01 pm Open the presents.


1.05 pm Try to play the secret santa present game with dice.


1.06 pm Fail.


1.15 pm Play with new secret santa toys.


1.30 pm Go upstairs and open more presents. Say thank you to Parental Units in the UK (telepathically). Put on new clothes.


1.31 pm Take off new clothes as it is too hot.


3.00 pm Try to get stuff ready for going to the beach. End up just emptying the fridge into a portable fridge. Put portable fridge by front door.


3.30 pm Get into Rave Taxi. Rave all the way to the beach. Sing medley songs at a rate of knots and shout ‘Merry Christmas’ aggressively at everyone. Get aggressive ‘Merry Christmas’-es back.


3.42 pm Arrive at beach. GET INTO THE WATER.


4.00 pm Get out of water to have a G&T and a chicken, salsa and corn chip corn-chip-sandwich. (Don’t knock it till..)


5.30 pm Jump over Adam’s sand sculpture. Watch Celyn do a once again surprisingly-gymnastic front flip. Be impressed.


5.33 pm Watch a child ruin the sculpture.


5.34 pm Join in the sculpture-ruining-effort.


7 pm Leave beach and get back into Rave Taxi. Realise driver is a KFC Colonel in his spare time. Be VERY impressed. Sing songs all the way home and watch the sun set over the Cook Strait. Be more impressed at the beauty of the scenery than at anything else that has happened in the day. Including Gin.


7.28 pm Get home after very long detour. Wash. Wash again. Get dressed in new clothes. Make cheese board even though dinner is being prepared.


7.45 pm Get the cheese sweats. Play the dictionary game. Learn the meaning of autarchy, otiose, and piccalilli.


7.59 pm Eat Swedish meatballs and beetroot salad (courtesy of Igor and Georgie). Eat more sausage.


8.50 pm Start cooking the ham.


11 pm Start eating the ham. Enjoy the accompanying cinnamon carrots. Fall slightly asleep.


11.25 pm Sit on beanbags on the roof. Digest.


11.30 pm Notice clouds are starting to cover moon. Try to discern shapes in clouds.


11. 57 pm Fall asleep.


12.37 pm Move from roof to room.


12.38 pm Try to watch Love Actually. Fall asleep again. Admit that Christmas Day might be over. Sleep for real this time.




(from Igor, Jessica and Celwyn Jones in the paddling pool)


20 Jefferson Street


We’ve been a bit quiet recently. Turns out having 5 jobs between us makes things rather hectic. It also makes chat a bit dry. No one really wants to hear about how many plates you can carry at one time or how angry the chef got when you dropped candle wax into one of his meals.


Apologies for that.


In compensation for our silence, here is a little insight into our domestic idyll in Wellington…

This is number 20, Jefferson Street. Our house. Shared with 9 others and 3 cats and the occasional third party couch occupier.


This is the back of the house, showing our enormous backyard, the sunroom on the first floor and then the master (Igor and Georgie’s) bedroom on the second.


This is it again. But at night. And with Igor on the roof.


This is it again again but taken from our currently-under-construction-but-it-is-definitely-taking-shape-and-we-even-have-bar-stools-with-weather-proof-seat-upholstery-stuff bar. Possibly the MOST IMPORTANT part of this photo is the two metal boxes i.e. the most treasured and indispensable house items; mini-firepig (or firepiglet perhaps) and firepig. Nearly all the occupants harbour pyromaniac tendencies. All that wood on the floor is for burning.



Firepig in action.



Mini-starry-firepig in action



The wall, as created by Adam Burstall (we’ve already raved about him). See below.


Wall again. Plus firework.


Wall again again. Plus fire.



Firework. No wall.


This. Is. Wellington.


The two newest Jeffy-fire-club recruits

And we’ll just leave you with one of Clare’s time-lapse-rs …


Get your Hobbit On


Wellington. Has. Gone. Mad.



Yes, it may be the site of Camperdown Studios – the sprawling cinematic ‘birthplace’ of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Yes, it is where the Hobbit premiered a few days ago, red carpet and all.

Yes, Peter Jackson comes from here.



Despite being surrounded by badly dressed hobbits and hairy wizards, the whole Hobbit-hype has actually been quite entertaining. A larger-than-life-size Gandalf and an equally enormous Hobbit hole have been hoisted above the Embassy cinema, where the premiere takes place. A Hobbit Artisan Market appeared (and in fact disappeared) as if by magic (ho ho ho) complete with stalls selling genuine replica middle-earth trinkets, midday sack races and musical statues, and a nightly showing of each of the LOTR films. Brownie points for effort.

The Market – kind of self-explanatory, really

Giant Gandalf at The Embassy Cinema (giant statues are all the rage.. obvs)

Wednesday, however, was the height of all madness as all the Middle Earth superstars descended on the city. Thousands flocked to the city where a red carpet ran the length of the centre, ready for stylish tootsies to grace it with their owner’s other world-ly presence. Although Celyn and I didn’t manage to find each other in the throng (due to mismatched work timetables and the like), separately we did quite well on the old celeb spotting. Before we get to the photographic evidence (WE WERE THERE) I must make a confession;  my knowledge of Hobbit/Lord of the Rings cast lists is a little hazy, hence there is a number of photos which contain red carpet strutters who could-be-famous-but-might-not-be-I-just-took-the-photo-anyway-because-that-seemed-like-the-right-thing-to-do-at-the-time-and-every-one-else-was-doing-it. If anyone can name the ‘stars’ in the pictures, I will be eternally grateful (and then will gloat that I’ve seen them and you haven’t).

Look closely at the wee guy signing the autographs.. can you guess?

Look closely at the little guy near the front with his head bent, sunglasses, and furious concentration on his autograph signing (I KNOW THIS ONE)

? again

Sorry,but ?


Another ?

We know this one.. it's Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Gollum’s lap of honour

Again, he must be famous. Prize if you tell us who he is.

Again, he must be famous. Prize if you tell us who he is.

They look like they should be celebs. So they must be.

They look like they should be celebs. So they must be.

No celebs, sadly

No celebs, sadly

Hobbit plane. Bit weird.

Hobbit plane. Bit weird.

If you know who these dudes are, please tell us, so we can then re-tell you that we saw them LIVE IN THE FLESH.


Wellington is to Auckland what Melbourne is to Sydney, and what San Francisco is to Los Angeles. It has character instead of homogeneity; it is compact, not sprawling; it is quietly confident, not brash and in-your-face

Well that’s Wellington for you. Or so says Anna Fifield of the Financial Times. Known as one of the best small capitals in the world – population a mere 164,000 to Auckland’s sprawling 1.2 million – Wellington actually does have a lot to shout about. The whole art-loving, rollie-smoking, music-making, alternative-facial-hair-sporting creatively cool culture that Welly is famous for does actually exist. And, thankfully, it exists in the most fantastically unpretentious way; making all those art-house cinemas and cafes, the d&b album launches, the world music exhibition days, and the scores of restaurants and bars wholly accessible to even the anorak-wearing guidebook-toting traveller geek.

Anna’s right about Melbourne and San Francisco, although I think she’s perhaps missed one major player out; Wellington is to Auckland what Bristol is to London. Fact.

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