Saturday – Northern Explorer to Wellington

Bum still painful! Blisters sore. (This is the first line of my notes and feel no need to change it!!)

Up 6am to sort, pack, shower and get ourselves to the Briomart station for 7.30

The hotel being only a 2 min walk from station 6am may seem excessive, but somehow we filled the time!

We had to check in and get our boarding tickets and luggage labels before making our way down to the platform, check the bags in, find the seats, run back up to station to get the all important coffees and a cheese and bacon scone – was back to the train just in time!

The train we were catching was the Northern Explorer it goes from Auckland to Wellington. Managed to get cheaper tickets by buying them in NZ! It’s run as a scenic route, big seats, massive windows and an open air carriage for photos. There’s also an audio commentary, plug sockets – luxury after campsites – and as we’d pre-booked lunch and afternoon coffee – they bring it to you at the time you’ve requested!!

The audio commentary was pretty informative, not on constantly, but you’d hear a ‘bong’ before a new bit started.

There was a massive delay just outside Hamilton due to a broken down freight train, but to pass the time we were treated to a lady in fits of giggles over a scone (I think that’s what tickled her from the few words she could utter). We also treated ourselves to some contraband red wine – the train only had an ‘on licence’ not something I’d ever thought about before!

Just as we got moving again it was time for lunch – mac and cheese and feta/roast veg salad. Both yummy so we had half each.

In my quest to find these millions of sheep New Zealand Tourism have promised us I’ve been keeping a close eye out for them vs all the cows around. Still far more cows than sheep and I’ve noticed that the cows, bless them, are scared of the train and tend to just run away, whereas the sheep (finally there are some) just watch us go by as though they’d never seen a train before.

There was lots of Taranaki chat, could allegedly see him, but no sign through the cloud! But finally got a version of the legend of Mt Taranaki

We went up through the spiral – kind of what the route is famed for – there are 3 loops that get you up a v steep bit of the mountain. Can’t really remember what the lady said, but it involved them agreeing that the max gradient should be 1:50 and at one point a driver thought he was going to run into another train, but turns out he’d caught a glimpse of his own rear lights due to the track curving so much!

We seemed to suddenly arrive in Wellington – the transition from countryside to city is never that great, only exception so far has been Auckland. We collected our luggage as they unloaded it off the train. Bf then treated us to a taxi to the YHA – I wasn’t going to say no to not walking!

We had a double room (gone all fancy) but still just a bed and some coat hooks. Having forgotten to do it in Auckland we hung up the tent to dry it out then headed out to get some food. Ended up in KK Malaysian Cafe, cute little place, got there just in time as it shut at 9:30. I had satay, and nasi goreng, was v yummy!

We went home via New World for some beer!


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