Cuba Street - Better during the Day than at Night
There are also some cafés and bars in Cuba Street (Mall) but for going out in the evening Courtenay Place is clearly nicer, has much better atmosphere. During daytime Cuba Street, also known for the Bucket Fountain, is more interesting, as there are many trendy shops, often with an alternative touch, tattoo studios and second-hand bookshops. When those shops and the cafés with their outdoor areas are closed at night the atmosphere is gone, and we thought it was not even nice to walk there, as it was so empty and lifeless.
Cuba Street has the problem of many pedestrian zones created in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s where the emphasis was on shops, and not on entertainment and hospitality. So such malls are great during the day and dead at night, and attract folk you would rather not meet.
As we went to a bar we had to walk there at night, but the dubious creatures hanging around did not really make us feel safe. It was not that we felt threatened but we were happy when we were back in a livlier area.
As we were there over the weekend and out of the city on a Monday we did not get aware of the daily problem Wellingtonians face in Cuba Street during the day. The business people were so fed up with drunken people fighting, urinating, and vomiting in front of their shops that they demanded action, and the city councillors were too happy to think about setting stricter rules to not let louts ruin Wellington as a tourist destination. So at the end of March 2008 they passed a bylaw, extending the liquor ban from the weekend and certain places only to the whole city centre and 24/7. This means that you as a visitor cannot drink alcohol in public places either.
Flashing the plastic
People in NZ eftpos all the time. They don't seem to carry cash. Mothers in my local shop eftpos 2 ice creams for their rugrats. A visitor was going to eftpos a one dollar postcard until I batted her aside and bought it for her. A friend eftposed a 2-50 coffee. No one turns a hair.
Apparently you pay something like 5 bucks a month and you can eftpos right left and centre and in my lady's chamber. And NZers have taken to it like ducks to water.
It would feel odd to me. I would feel like I was losing track of what I was spending. But that is what they do down here.
So if you are in a queue in a cafe or a shop, be patient. It will probably take some time as everyone swipes and punches in their numbers.
Explore the House Covered Hills
Wellington reminds me a lot of San Francisco with it's steep streets, house covered hills and large natural Bay location. It also has a lot of Victorian Styled homes and other cute wooden cottages from the same era. And of course it has it's own unique Kiwi styles and features as well. I really enjoyed exploring the diverse and beautiful architecture of Wellington.
The Wairarapa region is a rich farming district to the east of the rugged Tararua Ranges. Around 1 ½ hours drive north from Wellington, it is the home of the Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre near Masterton and the Martinborough wine region. Wairarapa is bordered by the rugged Tararua Mountains to the west and the wild Pacific Ocean to the east.
Driving in Wellington - Or NOT!
Wellington has a great public transport system but if you happen to find yourself driving from Auckland to Wellington and being stuck with a car, then be prepared for a nightmare come true.
Wellington is a labyrinth of one way streets and three lane roads that dart off in all directions.
If you have only been to Wellington a few times like myself this can be very confusing and trying to pick the right street or lane to get where you want to go can be a fun exercise. You could find yourself driving down a bus lane, or down the same road three times to get it right.
For all you who are wondering, Yes i did drive down a bus lane.