Happy birthday, Mum. A day of business today, which turned out pretty well. Nick gave us a lift into town, + off we went. First was the Post Office, to pick up our parcel. As we had suspected, it turned out to be from the Cascades, + contained our last bit of wages, plus holiday pay – about $200 in all, + a very pleasant surprise. I had virtually written off receiving any more money. Next we rang the girl at Fuller’s travel, + tho’ I had to pay for 2 calls, since she wasn’t available the first time, it was worth it. It seemed she’d used her loaf, + tho’ she’d only received the MCOs back, properly validated, 2 days before they expired, she’d acted fast, + booked us 2 tickets to Australia. So that made an extra $200 plus that we were better off.
In fact, the first bad spot of the day came at 10.30, at the Australian High Commission, where they told us it would take the best part of a week to have our visas ready. We had no intention of staying this long in Wellington, + in any case needed various things before submitting our application, namely a new photo of me (I had one, but I’m sure it would have qualified me for instant rejection – a drug runner, or child rapist, I looked), a statement of our finances, + a large envelope to send our passports on to Christchurch, so we said we would return, + walked back to town. I wouldn’t have minded, but it was such a long way out, getting on for a mile from the centre.
Anyway, Val went to collect 2 of the required items, while I had my photo taken. In what seems to be a complete absence of photo-booths, I had to pay the going rate, an exorbitant $3 for 2 black + white photos. Hurrumph. Val was being buggered about considerably by the Post Office, hence was late, hence my purchase of a Time magazine. So blame the NZ PO for my extravagance.
We then embarked on a snap sight-seeing tour of Wellington. We took the cable-car to the hill overlooking the city, + then strolled back down. A pleasant enough walk, thro’ the botanical gardens, but I can’t say we appreciated it fully. We arrived back at the Beehive, NZ’s parliament buildings, just in time to catch a conducted tour which had just begun. Our guide was an elderly Maori lady, who tho’ she had her faults, more than made up for them by her obvious love for her work, which in turn spurred both knowledge + enthusiasm. It turned out to be very enjoyable + informative – we were even taken onto the very floor of the debating chamber, + very comfortable it all is too, far more so than its British equivalent, rather like the idea one has of a posh London club. Which I suppose id close enough to the truth.
That done, we went back to collect our statement of funds (they’d apparently required time to do it) + then rushed back to the Aussie High Commission, arriving on the dot of 4, their closing time. Luckily, the lady inside was still busy with another… customer, I suppose… + then was kind enough to check thro’ our papers rather than just accept them. She greatly reassured us by expressing the opinion that we shouldn’t have any trouble.
Some shopping next for tonight’s dinner, + then home. The weather was once again foul, after a respectably fine day, so not a pleasant walk. In the evening, the permanent members of the house, plus friend, plus us, decided to go out to a pub for dinner. It turned out to be the most pleasant pub we’d yet found in NZ. To begin with, the meals were excellent, $5 buying steak, or half a chicken, or something, plus chips, plus a free selection from a well-stocked salad bar. I had a splendid + huge meal – if only the plate had been bigger, it would have been huger. Later on, another revelation to me was the showing of a free video movie. Last week had been Mad Max II, which I’d been sorry to miss, but we had Quest For Fire, which looked very interesting but far too subtle for that sort of presentation, so we left half way through. A good evening tho’ – the Southern Cross, Wellington.
Actually, the sort of day one comes across a lot while travelling (that is, in places like New Zealand – in more exotic locations it is as well to limit one’s expectations to just one objective per day): a mixture of a bit of admin (quite a lot of admin in this case), a bit of sight-seeing, and some socialising. To achieve all three of those successfully, however, was quite an achievement.