After Black Water Rafting, we drove to the town of Torangi. We had big plans to hike the Alpine Crossing which is a 13 miler that takes anywhere from 7-9 hours. We booked a hostel in advance close to the trailhead, so we could attack the crossing early the following morning.
When we checked in, our energetic British host informed us that due to weather conditions, they closed the hike until further notice. While the weather tracker seemed ok and the skies showed enough sunshine, the winds were too high at the top.
We picked up some local fish and chips and beer to bring back to the hostel hoping to at least make friends to hang with. The group we befriended were locals from Wellington which was our destination in just a few days, so they gave us some tips and made plans to meet up with them in their town.
The next morning, the trail was still closed so with our tails between our legs we drove to our next location. We booked an Air Bnb in advance (assuming we would want a nice place to relax and recoup after a challenging hike). Instead we had two and half more days in a local ski town that didn’t offer much more than bike rides, walks, and relaxing.
Luckily, we truly loved our stay at the Dakune Lodge. The town was in its off season which meant we had almost the entire ski lodge to ourselves. They have a hot tub, a beautiful view of the mountain and plenty of comfortable places to lazy around.
The hosts were so lovely and interesting, they live in a separate cabin behind the lodge and pop in throughout the day to visit. They offer fully cooked homemade meals if you’d like to purchase them and have a complimentary breakfast set out every morning. The chance of utilizing a fully equipped kitchen coerced us into making our own dinner each night and enjoy the meal with wine and a view.
The highlight of excitement was throwing ourselves deep into a puzzle that we finished our last day.
Alpine Crossing vs. Puzzle??? They don’t quite compare in accomplishment but we were able to conquer at least one task we set out to do.
The most physical activity we got in during our few days of chilling, was biking through the trails of the town. Nothing super challenging but I managed to take a turn too fast on some soft gravel and gained a bloody knee. Battle wound, numero uno.
Our bike ride took us into to town to have lunch at an eatery called Eat, owned by a New Yorker which had 5 star reviews. It was delicious, and my bloody knee earned me a homemade oatmeal cream pie (ya know, like the little Debbie’s ones) Soooo worth the crash and burn.
We said goodbye to our cosy cabin and left for Wellington, which was our final stop in the North Island of New Zealand. It was a 4 hour car ride and the view was not up to the panoramic beauty standard from the northern end of the island. We stopped at a BP station to try our first “pies”, meat pies that is, the favorite dish of the Kiwis. Our Wellington friends said the BP gas station had the best ones.
To be honest, we weren’t quite sure if they were just having a laugh at our expense so we confirmed with other locals before we gave it a go. We came, we conquered and we disagreed. We plan to try another one from a more legit operation after our stomachs have settled.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, seemed like halfway between Portland and the Lower East Side. Chalk full of espresso bars, craft beer bars, record stores and thrift shops. It has a vintage charm and lovely grunge appeal to it that makes it extremely inviting. We took the local bus in from our air Bnb location and walked everywhere else.
We started with a Latte at Memphis Belle and stolled to Garage Project Brewery for a tasting so we knew what to order everywhere else we went. One of our new Wellington friends joined us then we went back to his apartment for drinks, food and music. Their apartment was amazing and fun to see. Just like any typical late New York evening, we ubered home.
The next day we walked to the Weta Cave which is a special effects studio that is famous for its work in major motion pictures. That isn’t a huge interest of ours, so we did the free museum instead of a tour. We squeezed in a workout in our spacious Air Bnb, trying to rid the after effects of our meat pies then set out for a walk through the botanical gardens.
The botanical gardens are so pretty, it’s free to walk through and you can probably spend up to 2-3 hours seeing everything. We only had an hour and a half but that was plenty of time.
We drove to the ferry port that we were catching at 5 pm to get to the South Island. Our rental car had to be dropped off first because you don’t actually drive it on, instead they give you a new one on the other side. This saves you a couple hundred dollars, plus it’s less time consuming to walk on.
We read reviews that upgrading to the Premium Lounge was worth it so, we each paid 50 NZD extra dollars to do so. The ferry ride is about 3.5 hours, so the lounge gives you a more private space to enjoy your time. They have complimentary wi-fi, dinner, appetizers, drinks, beer, wine, espresso and dessert. In addition, they have sofas and blankets to lounge on and a private bathroom. The space holds about 60 people and we had only 8 people on our trip. If you come hungry and plan to drink, it’s definitely worth it. We were so full from lunch and recovering from the late night before so it wasn’t as much of a perk for us. We still enjoyed the accommodations though. The views as you approach the South Island are stunning.
The ferry docs right outside of wine country. So… Bottoms up.