Big Cities in New Zealand do exist!
On my first day in Wellington, the sun was shining and even though the "windy city" proofed its' name, it was nice and warm outside. I spent the day walking around town and explored diverse areas in the city centre, e.g. the Cuba Street, where you can definitely find some extraordinary shops and people. Moreover, I went to both the old and the new St. Paul's Cathedral, close to the "Beehive", New Zealand's parliament buildung. Now, I was keen to see everything from aboth and I walked up to the lookout on top of Mount Victoria, a short climb through a park which finally allows you nice views to the whole city and the Tasman Sea.
On Christmas Eve, I woke up very early, which was worth it after all because I could be one of the first visitors of the Farmer's Market next to the Te Papa National Museum. I hadn't even known that there would be a market, but soon I found myself covered with fresh fruit for a very reasonable price! After this succesful start of the day, I bought a coffee at one of the thousands of cafés in town and had a closer look to some areas in the city center. In the afternoon I then went to the Te Papa once again to have a look inside this time. Even though I am usually not a big fan of museums, I really enjoyed the Te Papa because it displayed so many different and interesting information about every part of New Zealand culture, settlement, wildlife, geography etc. I also found out that there would be a light show at the Te Papa at 8pm. This "light show" turned out to be a small walk for kids through artificial builders and some plants, enlightened by different colours, where the kids could spot some "elves" in the bush. Nevertheless, it was quite funny to see and afterwards I enjoyed sitting at the waterfront and watching the harbour in the dark.
After Wellington, I drove to New Plymouth were I would meet a friend from Germany. On my way though, I couldn't go past the Tararua Forest Park without a tramp to a small hut, 900m above the car park but still in the bush. The forest was very nice, in contrast to the weather: About half way to the hut, it slowly started raining and the rain only got stronger the further I went, so that neither the trees above me nor my rain jacket were able to protect me from getting soaking wet...
After all, I was quite happy when I reached New Plymouth slightly before sunset. It was amazing to see the Mount Egmont/ Taranaki even from far distance, a huge vulcano surrounded by a very flat area and, according to scientists, due to errupt again. Even though I knew I wouldn't have the time nor the equipment for a summit try, I really wanted to do at least a smaller hike there the next day.
First, though, I went to the water front of New Plymouth. Next to the harbour, there is a huge boulder directly at the water, which you can climb with the support of installed ropes and some ladders. Once at the top, an amazing panorama with views to Taranaki and the Tasman Sea is to be expected. The sunshine made it even more beautiful, so that even the strong wind couldn't really disturb me.
This changed rapidly once I reached Taranaki itself. Because of its' height, all the wet, cold air assembles around the vulcano so that it was covered in clouds. Only a few hundred meters above the car park, it got very uncomfortable when I suddenly found myself in the middle of theses wet rain clouds with a rising wind. Still, I kept going further up on the summit track after I had reached a private hut used by lots of hikers for their lunch break. On my way, I met several trampers coming back. They were forced to return due too bad weather conditions, and half an hour later I reached the point were I had to return myself because the wind almost blew me off my feet.