Toddler Tour Guide in Training … playgrounds & beaches…. forget the museums!

The ferry between the South Island and North Island is a pretty spectacular journey.  It was a bit overcast and windy – which was probably no bad thing as I spent the majority of my time with F on deck so I didn’t get travel sick.  Poor Adam was stuck inside with G in the small room of plastic toys known as the ‘family room’…  We arrived in Wellington slightly later than planned as there was a boat sending out a ‘mayday’ and the ferry we were on was the nearest vessel and so responded to the distress call….  we saw rescue boats & helicopters…. but thankfully it seemed to be a false alarm so we were ‘stood down’ and continued on our way. 

We had 5 nights in Wellington… in possibly our favourite accommodation so far.... gorgeous apartment owned by a lovely Wellington couple with 6 month old twins.  Emily & Will (the owners) lived upstairs (basically a 100 year old house divided in 2 and renovated beautifully). Emily not only provided a cot & highchair that we’d requested… but also met us with bath toys & bedtime books for G!  They popped down to drink wine & discuss travelling with babies one evening which was fab. 

We properly felt at home in Wellington… maybe it was drinking with other people… or the slightly dismal weather… or the house with ‘usual’ bits & pieces in the kitchen drawers… or the fact we both ended up having quick haircuts… or that Adam went to the pub to meet some guys from a company he works with?!  I don’t know – we didn’t ‘tick’ lots of stuff off a tourist list – but just really enjoyed being in Wellington!

We had a bit of a failed attempt at ticking one of the ‘must do’s’ off the tourist list… the Te Papa Museum in Wellington #1 on TripAdvisor… every blog mentions how awesome & child friendly it is.  Unfortunately G was not Te Papa friendly .  The dark areas with interactive screens she declared ‘scary’….  the tree surrounded by various wildlife was ‘hiding something’ that was going to get her…. the only bit of interest we got was in the play area to sit & read a book about seals. The book was clearly aimed at an enthusiastic teenage seal fanatic – but insistent on this book – Mummy made up the words!! 

The rest of the week we played it pretty safe… (wusses) we wandered along the harbour, visited a variety of playgrounds – all (as we are coming to expect in NZ) were fab!  We took the Wellington cable car up Kelburn, briefly visited the cable car museum (small and included and old cable car to climb on and off…  so met the G mark of approval).  We had a wander through the botanical gardens that were also at the top… and guess what.. .. found another awesome playground!   The next day we walked up Mount Victoria… very proud of G for walking all the way… even if she did request the ‘magic backpack’ back downhill to find lunch!

During our 5 days in Wellington F’s relationship with food changed beyond recognition… from barely interested to chasing the spoon with his mouth and squeaking for whatever we were having if we ate without him!  He has now added quesadillas, pizza & pasta to his takeaway diet..

.. and we invested in rice cakes & pouches of baby food!!  His crawling remains in reverse gear only which he is finding a little frustrating! 

On Saturday we had a 4.5 hour drive to Napier…  so packed a picnic (confident in finding a playground in a random town enroute!) and set off at 10am.  As expected we found a little town Eketahuna with a small playground and stopped to eat / play & get an ice cream…  about 10 minutes after setting off again we drove past playground utopia in the next town, Pahiatua, oops… we drove on by, to a cries of ‘I want to go on that one’

We arrived in Napier & had our traditional pasta, pesto & bacon…  then despite it being close to bedtime… thought we’d have a wander after spending most of the day in the car!  Less than 5 mins walk to the sea… and guess what we found?!

Napier is the Art Deco Capital of the world.... so the next day we just went in to town and wandered.  There are loads of old 30s cars driving around which really add to the atmosphere.  I think we were so lucky to see this beautiful city in the sunshine.  There was also a cool pier (modern I think?!) so you can stand over the sea as the big waves crash.

Inspired by a family we saw the night before… we bought fish & chips for dinner that night and ate them picnic style by the sea.

We embraced the relaxed atmosphere and went to Ocean Spa the next day (forget the idea of massages and treatments… this spa was four outdoor pools… aimed at families). Of the two main pools, one was so cold Adam was convinced it was refrigerated and the other you could poach an egg it was so warm. G, however,  LOVED it & we spent all morning & early afternoon there – including lunch.  F eventually woke up from his long morning nap (exhausted after getting up just after 5am??!) and got a little swim in the pool before we headed home!  


The next day we’d be on our way again…. Taupo was calling!

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