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New Zealand: Wellington

Wellington city centre
Wellington city centre

'Unseasonable rain' they called it as I headed south from Auckland towards Wellington, on the first leg my exploration of New Zealand. As I pulled in to Taupo for my first night sleeping in the back of Zed, the news reader on the radio said, 'There have been strong gales throughout the North Island, ripping roofs off buildings and bringing trees down on power lines. The worst area hit is between Taupo and Rotorua, but the whole of the north can expect very heavy rain and serious wind.' I didn't need to be told; when you're trying to get to sleep in the back of a Toyota Corona parked precariously close to the edge of a huge lake, you know when there's a bloody great storm chucking down more water than you've ever seen, while threatening to blow your car on its side. I swear that there was so much rain in the air that the fishes in the lake didn't know which side of the horizon they were supposed to be. New Zealand is known for being wet, but it seems a whole lot wetter when you're actually in it.

A shop window in Wellington called 'bugadifino'
Classic Kiwi humour is evident in this Wellington shop name, 'bugadifino'

Around Wellington

A wind generator
A wind generator taking advantage of the winds whistling through the Cook Strait near Wellington

I spent most of the week working, first in Wellington, and then in Palmerston North, where I visited four schools, wrote four case studies, and stayed with Judy, the dealer in Palmerston. Judy is a bon viveur, no doubt about it, and if it hadn't been for my body feeling like it had been put through the ringer, I'd have risen to the challenge. Even so, we ate well and drank well, and generally had a ball, as one should always do when one is working. The schools we visited were interesting too, ranging from small schools in the middle of nowhere, to very rich public schools that made all the others look distinctly shabby. It's certainly a great way of getting to see a country from the inside.

Otaki Forks
The peaceful greenery of Otaki Forks

1 DOC – the Department of Conservation – is in charge of National and Forest Parks, and runs a huge collection of out-of-the-way campsites that are very cheap and very picturesque. They're a highly recommended source of information on the outdoors.