Clearish morning so we walked by the beautiful lake (largest in New Zealand), then ventured into town on a mission to fill up our water tank - yet another trip to The Warehouse to buy pliers to work the ‘vandal proof’ local taps with! Tank filled and on the road again, and the rain was really setting in… we headed to Mordor with the hope of some beautiful mountain scenery, but we could barely see the road in front of us! So instead of spending a couple of nights in Tongariro national park we continued South to a halfway point on the way to Wellington which happened to be the town of Palmerston North, where we did perhaps the only thing there is to do in Palmerston North - visited the Rugby museum. It was actually quite good! We could even test our kicking and tackling skills (which were awesome). Another night in a creepy carpark, this time no toilet facilities even within a 10 minute radius - gulp! I can’t quite bring myself to use the campervan potty (we have to have one in order to call ourselves ‘self-contained’ but the thought of weeing in my kitchen/sitting room/bedroom freaks me out), so we seriouly reduced our fluid intake instead!
Headed off early to Wellington in the rain, and arrived at our next freedom camping spot - a carpark right on the water front in Evans Bay, no doubt a beautiful spot but the heavy rain meant we couldn’t tell yet! We bravely donned our waterproofs and headed into town - Chris got a snazzy new haircut (I’m not allowed near the clippers again) and then went to the local leisure centre so Chris could get his pump on and I could use the sauna, and we could both take a much needed shower! We went for lunch in a harbour-side cafe, Chris tried the vegan ‘chicken’ burger made of some sort of plant protein, tasting mainly of the peanut sauce it was cooked in, but he reckoned it was passable! (trying out our veggy hats again), then we had plans to go to the museum but went to the pub instead (I had an aspalls cider! What a treat!) and then headed back for campervan-made nachos and wine! Chris had to escort me to the toilet at midnight across the carpark (why don’t they put the toilets closer?!)
We woke up and the sun was shining! And the habour looked beaut, so we celebrated with pancakes…. Then we remembered we had to go try to sort the hob problem out which meant a 45minute drive out of town, so we set off and found the repair place where they spent 2hrs working out what we already knew (a part needs replacing) and they didn’t have the part, so that was a lovely waste of our time and the sunshine! We drove back to our same spot, then walked up Mount Victoria for views over the city and beyond, then walked to the ‘Te Papa’ museum (Maori for ‘Treasure trove’), which was amazing and free! We wished we had gone the day before, and maybe we’ll return on our way back through Wellington, but it was closing time so we went for some cocktails before dinner - a ‘mix your own’ concept with 3 different mixers to try with a campari style cocktail, then two more delicious cocktails, then a quick pint in the Welsh pub (the only one in the Southern hemisphere according to the sign on the wall!), then for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Before we embrace vegetarianism we need to sample the local lamb - so I started my meal with lamb brains of course! They were exactly as imagined - nice taste but horrible texture that sort of dissolved in the mouth as you ate them. Meanwhile Chris had a margarita pizza starter (and I was a bit jealous!) Then a lamb rump for me and lamb meatballs for Chris, and tiramasu to share before we went back to the Welsh pub for a welsh whisky nightcap (if there is one thing my parents have taught me, it’s always have a nightcap!).