Other posts from the On a visit to.. series:
- On a visit to… Katie aka The travelling light, Brisbane (Australia)
- On a visit to… Krystal Lynn, Albuquerque (NM, USA)
- On a visit to… Ali Kamenova (LA, California)
I was thinking a lot about how to start this interview. If we wanted to write a fairy tale, maybe it would start with this sentence.
— Om Trips Blog (@omtripsblog) September 13, 2018
But since we are offering you just an interview with real people, stories, and places…We thought it would be best to start with a quote from Tolkien. It fits perfectly in the spirit of everything we want to present.
— Om Trips Blog (@omtripsblog) September 13, 2018
I have the pleasure to introduce you to a girl who literally went to the end of the world to pursue her goals and showed that everything is possible as long as we have a trusted (and crazy enough) person with whom we can share the longest journey ever. In her last blog article Moving to live in New Zealand | Stepping 17 700 km out of our comfort zone she is talking about how she took this step forward and if you are interested to follow her stories do it by giving her some love on Facebook and Instagram.
Now, let see what this land far, far away has to offer and let’s be ready to conquer the amazing city of Wellington in New Zealand with Konstantina aka Redhead Explorer, the best local guide ever 🙂
How do you imagine the perfect “om trip”?
I like to get the best of both worlds. I enjoy spending time in nature: hiking, camping, and staying away from busy city life. But I am also a person who grew up with an appreciation of fine art and architecture, so I feel thrilled when I have time to roam the streets of old cities with a lot of history.
Is it possible to take an “om trip” to Wellington?
Oh, definitely. Wellington is a very cool and laid back city, and I am blown away (sometimes quite literally, because the wind is also like nothing I have ever seen) by the options you have for hiking, surfing, cycling, kayaking, sailing, and just about anything you want to do. I think downtown Wellington (called Te Aro) has a lot of charm, especially around the Waterfront, the Te Papa Museum, and the restaurants, cafes, and craft beer bars around Cuba Street. But for me, Wellington’s real superpowers are in the access to stunningly preserved nature within the city or a short 10-minute drive away (Zealandia, Otari Wilton Bush, The Town Belt, Makara Beach, etc.). I also like the suburbs and the bay areas around the coast: Miramar is perfect for bicycle tours.
There are lots of clichés about New Zealand, which ones proved to be false?
If you mean clichés about the strong wind and the tons of sheep: it is all true. But the “bad weather” cliché is not exactly as we imagine it. It does rain a lot, but it is most often very light. Just a drizzle: most days you can barely feel it on your skin and you don’t even need an umbrella, just a hoodie.
And even the coldest days during the winter were still more than 5-6 degrees, which is a very mild winter by Bulgarian standards.
Please share your experience from your first days in New Zealand?
In a nutshell: joy, bewilderment, great coffee, and some culture shock. Read more about my first impressions here
Three things which we have to take with us when we travel to this part of the world.
It is a crime to come without a camera in such a beautiful place, but I will assume this is essential for all trips so:
- Waterproof wind coat or raincoat.
Umbrellas are useless in the roaring wind, and it is not uncommon to go through several seasons a day, so it is always a great idea to be prepared. Always bring a good jacket with you if you are hiking: the weather in the mountains can drop dramatically in no time. Hypothermia can be a serious issue in the tricky climate here
- Keepcup/Reusable water bottle.
Kiwis take environmental protection seriously (New Zealand recently approved a ban on single-use plastic which will come into force within the next year), so it is pretty standard to bring your own mug/keep cup/bottle with you. Tap water is actually quite good almost everywhere here so you will save a lot of money: mineral water can be $4 for 500ml.
- Offline maps and navigation apps like Sygic or other ones with an option for offline access to your route.
Mobile coverage is pretty bad once you leave bigger cities and you cannot always rely on it. Camper Mate is also an excellent app to have if you intend to spend time outdoors.
How to look like the locals?
Dress down. Or channel your inner Ziggy Stardust. You will fit in both ways. People go red carpet-fancy when they go out to a party or an event, but outside the business district on a standard weekday, people dress in a very casual way and are generally really low-key (compared to the flashy outfits many people wear back home). In some parts of town, I often feel like I have walked into a time machine and somebody brought me back to the 90s.
What should we absolutely try when we’re in Wellington?
Coffee, wine, and craft beer are New Zealand’s signature drinks.
Wellington’s craft beer scene is blooming, and you will find many pubs, bars, and (micro) breweries, but at $10-15 for a pint I find my passion for beer to be waning. Ironically, you can buy a really nice bottle of wine at the store for the price of a glass of beer in a bar.
Wellington is one of the top culinary destinations in all of Australasia: you can try everything here.
Brunch is very popular: for meat-free options try The Botanist: just don’t go there really hungry. It usually takes a while for your food to arrive, but you can chill and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. If you want something in the central part of the city: try Olive (they have a garden at the back, just keep walking).
If you love bagels, drop by Commonsense Organics sell bread and bagels from Shelly Bay Bakery, or order a bagel sandwich at Baobab (Newtown).
If you like steak, El Matadoris Heaven on Earth.
Pies are also very popular, but they are not sweet like in Bulgaria. Here they are mostly filled with meat and are a meal, not a dessert. Patricia’s Pies in Island Bay is a tiny local small bakery, but she makes the best pies we’ve tried!
Try manuka honey (very typical) and chocolate by the Wellington Chocolate Factory!
Where would you take us for a cup of coffee?
The city is full of lovely spots where you can have excellent coffee, so I think the best strategy is always to try a new place downtown.
The place you’d like to share with us.
Outdoors: Castle Point (about 2 hours away from Wellington) is like a movie set
Indoors: Photon Flux (sci-fi themed bar in Wellington where we will be watching Predator ’87 this Sunday) and Moon (a bar that calls itself “the Intergalactic Headquarters of Wellington” where you can see a person in a suit sitting next to a guy in dreadlocks while a barefoot kid dressed like a princess plays with somebody’s dog between the tables).
Roxy Cinema Roxy is my favorite cinema in Wellington. It offers the perfect film buff atmosphere and they even have events called “Eat the film” with food and drinks inspired by the movie you are watching and served to you during screening. I am so sorry we missed the Pulp Fiction event: would have loved to try those Jackrabbit Slim’s milkshakes!)
We can’t travel around without stopping by some galleries and museums. Tell us which are your favorites?
Te Papa is my favorite so far: you can learn a lot about New Zealand’s history and Maori culture.
Gallipoli: The Scale of our war was the most impressive exhibition I have seen in my life. It is dedicated to the Gallipoli military campaign in Turkey during WWI: one of the darkest moments in Kiwi history. The historical events unfold in a masterfully presented, interactive narrative, which involves you in life on the battlefield and in the trenches in a very gripping way through the eyes of 8 people with different ranks and roles in the war.
The famous Chinese Terracotta Warriors are coming in December – I am very excited to see them.
Which book do you think will be most suitable for our trip to Wellington?
The Luminaries (Светилата) got a Man Booker price a few years ago, and it is probably the most famous recent New Zealand novel. However, what I would recommend is Isabella Shopova’s На Изток в рая. She is a Bulgarian and describes living in New Zealand with a great sense of humor. She also did quite a lot of research on the culture and history of New Zealand so it would be a great read on the way here.
Where would you take us to a yoga practice in Wellington?
At Victoria Recreation: the university sports facilities. The prices for non-students are better than any rate in the city, and the view over Wellington is amazing.
Where should we go after visiting Wellington?
Everywhere in New Zealand. If you are in a hurry: Queenstown.
Who is Konstantina?
Glass-half-full type of person. Loves to travel and sometimes even manages to write about it. Spent some time living in Seattle, Macerata, and now Wellington with a lot of Sofia in between. Switching from marketing and analytics to full-time science research.
All pictures are kindly provided by Redhead Explorer.