The Traveling Steve's

Welcome to Wellington: Capital of New Zealand!

Our next stop on our Majestic Princess cruise was the port of Wellington. Wellington is the Capital of New Zealand, and is located on the South-Western part of the North Island of New Zealand. As Wellington is a major city, we did not book a shore excursion or tour, and headed out on our own to explore this lively and important Capital city.

We had a leisurely breakfast aboard the ship, and waited a bit for most of the passengers to depart so the lines would not be so long to debark. From our aft balcony, we watched some of the ship’s life boats being tested, as this was part of the ship’s regular full crew safety drills.

The crew drills and safety equipment checks were especially important on this repositioning cruise as this ship would be sailing onward to Vancouver (with stops in Fiji and Hawaii) with many seas days in between. While we had originally booked the full 30 day sailing from Sydney to Vancouver, we shortened the cruise right before final payment, to the 9 day segment from Sydney to Auckland for several reasons: 1: most important, my recent mobility issues still lingering from my Dengue Fever issue, 2: we would have already been gone for several weeks when we boarded in Sydney, and 3: the onward port itineraries from Auckland had been shortened from four to two, making for a mostly sea days itinerary. While we like sea days, the ongoing trip from Auckland to Vancouver now only had two port stops, as it was shortened from four ports by canceling Bora Bora (only small, “yacht size” ships are allowed there now) and Maui was dropped due to the extensive fires they had several months ago, with only one stop in Fiji and Honolulu now.

I would imagine too for the crew at least, when the cruise ship got to Hawaii there would be safety, sanitation, and other inspections as it would be the first US port the ship had been sailed to in months.

Once off the ship in Wellington, we took the complimentary shuttle to town, as the ship docks in an industrial port where you can’t walk around. We took a couple dock-side photos, and we were soon on our way to exploring Wellington, if just for the day.

Steve (DOS) brought my transit wheelchair along, which was a big help for me going thru town instead of walking the long distances. On the bus, we passed some of the many government buildings in Wellington.

Once in town the bus dropped us off at a convenient central spot, which left us on our own to explore. We were in search of the Wellington Cable Car which we wanted to take to the top of the hillside, which had signs posted periodically indicating which direction we needed to go. Along the way, we passed lots of shops, department stores, banks, restaurants, pubs, and office buildings, as well as some street level artwork sculptures every block or so which were definitely unique in design and concept.

With a little help from the many uniformed volunteers we saw on the streets, we had no problem finding the Wellington Cable Car,. The Wellington Cable Car is actually a steep funicular tramway that transports locals and tourists alike to Kelburn, a suburb high above the downtown district. Before we saw the Cable Car, we assumed it was like an overhead cable car ride such as at an amusement park, but learned it’s a funicular tram that quickly ascends or descends in 5 minutes or so from the downtown base to the top at Kelburn, with a quick intermediate stop or two for commuters in between.

We had a short wait for the Cable Car, which runs continuously throughout the day from 7:30am – 8 or 9pm, depending on the day of week and/or holidays. We purchased a roundtrip ticket “casual rider ticket”, for $11 NZ, although there is a pathway you could walk up or down if you’re in tip-top shape and wanted to get your exercise. They also have commuter passes for frequent riders.

Here’s a short video of the “Cable Car” (I still kept calling it a tram) as it comes into the downtown station.

And here is a video of the tram we rode going to the top of the hill to the Kilburn suburbs stop.

Exiting the tram at the top of the funicular station.

At the top, we were afforded spectacular views of the city from multiple vantage points. We walked and/or wheeled around the area passing a couple shops and a restaurant. We passed by the Wellington Tram Museum (complimentary admission) which is adjacent to the Cable Car, as we headed down one of the trails at the top, but would return to the museum on our way back down.

We took a trail that led to the Botanic Gardens, however we branched off on another trail that ended up in a “Space Museum” exhibition area, with a large observatory at the hilltop peak. While we couldn’t go in the observatory, we took a few photos and enjoyed the stunning views from the high hillside location.

A bit further down the trail was a “human sundial”, which according to DOS, actually worked! He stood there with his hands up and viewed the reflection of the sun shining down and more or less gave the time of day! It was a beautiful and clear day which was great for the views, not to mention telling the time!

We didn’t take the trail further down to the Botanic Gardens, which was a bit further downhill, and a bit too steep for us, but did see people walking and biking that way.

We then headed back to the tram, but first stopped by the Wellington Tram Museum we passed earlier as we departed the tram station. The trams in Wellington are very important due to the hilly city, and the Cable Car Tram that goes up and down this hillside has been operating for over a 100 years, providing over a million passengers a year this quick mode of transportation.

Going back down the incline was not nearly as busy as going up the hill, and we only a short wait for the next tram to arrive.

The Cable Car tram passes thru two LED lit tunnels, and we also passed the other tram coming up the hill on our way down.

Once we arrived back in the downtown section of Wellington, we (well actually DOS) browsed around the shops, always being a sucker for a good souvenir shop! LOL!

Back on the ship we had a late lunch onboard at Alfredo’s Italian Pizzeria.

Later, we enjoyed the sail-away from Wellington from our aft balcony, with the skies beautifully colored with the sunset, and later a bright moon shining down on us.

I always look at the moon as God’s subtle hint at saying “I am here with you”, as the moon shines down on you where ever you are in the world. The sun shines down too obviously, but it’s too bright to look at, while the moon (and stars) can be viewed more easily, and offer a glimpse of the heavens and is quite spiritual if you are so inclined to believe. It’s a reminder to me of Genesis 1:3. The moon looks so simple but is always there, and on night’s like this it feels extra comforting as we sail along on our journey to the next port as well as life in general.

Anyway, we finished off our nice day in Wellington with an 8pm dinner at the specialty restaurant, The Crown Grill. The leisurely dinner here with service from Michael was outstanding as always!

So good night from Wellington; next stop will be the port of Tauranga, New Zealand, and the Captain assured everyone it will be a smooth sailing getting there! Ciao from Wellington!

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