Welly weekends: PB, ABs and PBs!

Kia Ora! I thought I’d share a few thoughts on our first weekend in Windy Welly (they’re not kidding with the nickname… why on earth did I pack my hair straighteners!?).

One thing we’ve been trying to do so far is embrace the fact that we’re living here, rather than just passing through. Our holidays are notoriously full-on; we’re not very good at relaxing, we just want to get out there and see everything! We’ve had to keep telling ourselves to slow down – we’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm but for once, we’ve got months to get through it (woohoo!).

That being said, we’re still chucking ourselves right on in to Welly life, for the first few weekends at least! We can sleep when we’re old. Or on the plane home.

Friday we got some necessary life admin (bank, laundry, press Rob’s crumpled suit!) done and had the rest of the day to explore. I can’t go more than about an hour in this country without a coffee, so we celebrated with a stop off at Sugar Flour, right around the corner in Kilbirnie.

It was set up by a Kiwi who previously worked for Heston Blumenthal and at Sketch London. She’s disgustingly young – 22!! – and incredibly talented! Look how pretty those cakes are! It has bottomless coffee and salted caramel truffles for $2… I can see myself spending a lot of time there (follow @cdfcoffeecrawl on Instagram for more of my coffee shop-related ramblings!)

We hopped on the bus downtown, which went through Hataitai, a neighbourhood we’ll be moving to a bit later in the trip, then through the Mount Victoria Tunnel. We’ve earmarked the walk to the top for next weekend if the weather’s nice. We’ve been pretty lucky so far but keep being told how changeable it is, so we’re keen to make the most of the good days! The clocks go forward this week so warmer weather is on its way and it’ll be lighter later, so I’ll be able to meet Rob for some after-work adventures.

Our first stop in town was rather exciting… as you might know, I loooooooove peanut butter. I heard about Fix & Fogg via Instagram. They make delicious PB in a whole range of classic and crazy flavours (fruit toast anyone?) and sell it all over the city, as well as from their window on Eva Street. Their slogan is “Make the most of your toast!”.

They let us sample a couple of flavours, before we went for the super crunchy (if you like smooth PB I don’t think we can be friends) and their special flavour for the month: coffee and maple. I’ve had plenty of coffee-chocolate flavoured things but never thought of putting it with PB. I can confirm, it is delish. I’ve since seen on insta that it’s sold out, so I’m glad we got our paws on a jar. I can’t wait to take fellow PB fiend Robert Taylor here for breakfast when he comes out!!

We ate lunch on the harbourside next to Te Papa, the national museum. We had a really fun afternoon at Te Papa last time we were here; they have the world’s only colossal squid on display and the guide gave us a pretty intense shpiel on how squid (squids?) are the most intelligent species on the planet and one day going to take over the world… Riiiight. Squids aside, it’s really interesting – on the list for a rainy day.

Wandering along the harbourside we found… the piano!! On the left is a picture from 5 years ago… and one from this weekend. It’s still there <3.

We walked past the Beehive (NZ parliament), so-called because it looks like… a beehive… to see where R is working as of Monday. Exciting!

Tempted as we were to run round the entire city in one day… we decided to head back and save our energy because Saturday was an extra-special day!

About three months ago, I was at work when I had a text from Rob. It said, “Right. I’ve just bought something for New Zealand. Don’t ask me how much, we won’t regret it.” …?!?!

A few seconds later an image pinged through… ALL BLACKS TICKETS!

Apparently he signed up to their ticket alerts as soon as we knew we were coming out here – but I still can’t believe he managed to actually get them! The stadium in Wellington (the Westpac, also known as the Cake Tin, because “it’s round” – !?) isn’t even the ABs home ground; they only play here a few times a year. Serious husband points!

It was an evening kick off so we had time to kill. In the morning we walked from Kilbirnie to Lyall Bay. I had a reason for wanting to wander that way and, predictably, it was coffee shop related. Lyall Bay is home to a crazy, pink-and-gold painted café called… Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli. I kid you not. It’s incredible. I want a job there. They sell t-shirts. I might buy one.

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I don’t have any pictures because it was super busy (everyone loves Sally’s!), but I’m going back later this week. We read the paper and had a ginger slice and probably the best flat whites of the trip so far (biased, me?).

After that it was time to get excited – match time! Rugby was never on my radar growing up, but after 11 years in Wales, I absolutely love a match day! R made sure I was brainwashed earlier doors: the first thing he ever bought me was a Wales rugby shirt (it was our first Christmas together, I hadn’t realised we were “doing presents” and had bought him, errr, a cupcake. Woops.). I’m aware of what a ridiculous bucket list experience it is to be able to see the All Blacks in NZ – I’m trying to justify (to myself and basically of R’s workmates) that I deserve it!!

First stop was, of course, the All Blacks Store. When in Rome!

Next, Rob wanted to head to a place at the top of Cuba Street called the Black Dog Brewery. I surprised myself (and Rob) by going for a Salted Caramel Espresso Stout – basically, coffee beer! Yum. We got chatting to a couple of Aussies who were over for the game. The girl turned out to be a law librarian, so she and R got very excited talking about legal databases. And he calls me a nerd!

With an eye on the clock (there was no way we were coming 18,000km for this and missing the Haka!) we went in search of food, then had just enough time for one more in Foxglove, a bar on the harbourside that we’d been past the day before. Now the atmosphere was really buzzing; there were so many black and white shirts in there it was like I’d gone colourblind. People were streaming past on their way to the stadium so we polished off our drinks and joined them. It’s an easy walk along the harbour to the Westpac and we were glad we’d brought plenty of layers!!

I was so excited for the Haka. I’ve never seen it, not even on TV. It went deadly silent; you could feel the excitement in the crowd. R was saying they used to be allowed to go right up to the other team and scream in their faces… part of me kind of wishes they still were!

Guys, it is just as electrifying as you would hope. The energy!! It’s incredible. They’re so in sync; every move and stomp and slap and snarl, they really give it some beans. I felt ready to win a game of rugby after that!! Half my brain was thinking, “hmmm, I wonder whether there’s tension about non-Maori players doing the haka; it would be really interesting to learn more about Maori culture while we’re here…” and the other half was thinking, “THIS IS AMAAAAZAAAAAANG.” Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The match was fantastic – easily the best rugby game I have ever seen. We were a bit gutted not to see them win, but it was such an exciting game that it made up for it! The ABs were so close to scoring in the final five minutes… I was sat there with my hands over my eyes, my nerves couldn’t take it!! We were so exhausted afterwards that we decided to just head home rather than out for another drink – maybe it would have been different if they’d won! We did get Caramel M&Ms for the bus home though (yet another choc variety we can’t get at home… thank god I’m running while I’m out here or I’ll come home as big as a house!).

Talking of running… What’s the obvious thing to do the morning after a rugby day? Sleep in, go for brunch, nurse a sore head? Not us… we found ourselves shivering on the harbourside at like 8.15am (sorry Rob…) as I’d signed up for a 10k…!

In my defence, I’ve been freaking out a bit about the Half Marathon (please sponsor me!). It’s only 6 weeks away and while I’ve done some shorter runs since we get, I haven’t really been getting the long runs in. I was up to about 13-14k by the time we left and I don’t want to lose it! I did a bit of googling and found the Honest 10 online. It’s organised once a month by a local running club, the Welly Harriers. It was flipping cold, and I was pretty intimidated by the club runners to start with – they all pinged off as soon as the whistle went, leaving me thinking I’d be last back!! But in the end it was really good fun.

They’d written motivational slogans all over the pavements in chalk and I know it’s cheesy, but running over things like “YOU LOOK GREAT” and “GREAT DAY FOR A RUN” and “ENJOY THE VIEW” really did make me smile!

The views really were incredible; we went right along the coast, around Oriental Bay and Evans Bay. A great distraction!! The wind was a killer though – like running through treacle. I figured I’d get a rubbish time. But not only was I not last, I was actually not that far off my PB!

The club was really friendly and welcoming. The organiser told me they have a Saturday morning session, after which they “all go for a coffee at the zoo café” (erm, sold), so I might go along.

I promised R I’d make the ridiculous early start up to him with a coffee, so we wandered over to check out the Harbourside Market. This is every Sunday on the harbourside next to Te Papa, and it’s awesome! LOADS of amazing fresh fruit and veg, as well as yummy (hot!!) coffee, street food, hummus, manuka honey, vegan treats. I don’t know what’s happened to us since we got here; I now drink beer and R will knowingly eat a vegan cheesecake!

We were meant to take it easy that afternoon, but the weather was so lovely that we couldn’t resist heading up to the Botanic Gardens, another place we visited last time. Our fantastic friend Jo took us here for a wander and a picnic, and we still talk about it a lot! We miss you Jo!

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We got the cable car up. It’s a Welly icon; I know it’s touristy, but we couldn’t resist! (And hey, would you wanna walk up that hill?!). It’s only $5 for a one-way ticket, and the views from the top are fab.

I’ve said before how nice it is that we’re here in the spring; the Gardens are starting to come to life and it’s lovely knowing the weather is going to get warmer!

Rob starts his job on Monday, so I’ll be living the dream on my ownsome during the day. I’m going to give myself a few days at least to explore a bit more and then I’ll try and find some kind of employment… I could quite happily spend the next 3 months hanging out in coffee shops, but the more $$ we earn between us – the more adventures we can have! Flights to Queenstown aren’t too expensive… it would be rude not to, right?

Slang of the day: Not really slang as such, but it just tickled me so much that I had to share. The NZ Men’s basketball team is called…. the Tall Blacks. Not joking. Oh kiwis, I do love you!

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