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It's been quite a while since I had a trip home to New Zealand - in fact it was my brother's wedding in 2012 that last took me home.

So when I saw that Air NZ were running a special promotion to celebrate the Rugby 7’s being hosted in Vancouver, I decided to try and get a flight home.

Rainbow across the Pauatahanui inlet with choppy water in the foreground

I stood in a queue for 4 hours on my birthday to try and get one of 70 flights at a super discounted price. I decided to try and time my trip so that it was just before my Mum’s birthday so I could surprise both my parents. Conveniently Dad’s present was “lost in the mail” so that this could be his present too.

I had a few days in Wellington with my brother and sister in law before my parents were due to come down to see their new house.
It was so nice to wander around Wellington. I hadn’t really spent too much significant time there, apart from the bars and clubs when I used to go down for a weekend of partying in my early 20’s. 
I also used the time to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen for years.

Street art mural of a brightly coloured unicorn on a garage door in the laneway of Egmont Street in Wellington
Street art mural of a brightly coloured geometric patterns on a garage door in the laneway of Egmont Street in Wellington
Street art mural of a brightly coloured flowers on a garage door in the laneway of Egmont Street in Wellington
Dividing wall utilising plants and geometric metal to disguise a parking lot in Egmont Street in Wellington

Bolton Street Cemetery was so interesting.
The city decided to build a motorway through the old cemetery in the 1960’s, and actually had to exhume a lot of the graves and re-inter them in a mass grave.
Some headstones were replaced as close to the original burial site as possible, so at the edges of the graveyard the headstones are clustered together.

Sunlight dappling across old tombstones with daffodils blooming in the grass at Bolton St Cemetery
Camellias in the afternoon light at Bolton Street Cemetery in Wellington
Image of New Zealand parliamentary building, The Beehive in Wellington
Close up of a dying hydrangea with faded purple and blue colours

You can enter the cemetery from the city end just north of The Beehive. Or take the Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens, and enter from there.
I decided to ride the Cable Car for the second time in a couple of days. It has a cute little light show when you go through the tunnels.
I’ve always loved old graveyards, looking at the names of people and how old they were when they died. There was one quite sad one there though, 5 kiddies in one family passed away from Scarlet Fever over the course of a week.

I had forgotten how damn good the coffee is back home. I was asking my sister in law about any good coffee places near her work, and she asked me about my flavour preference.
How had I forgotten that there were subtleties in coffee. I definitely love the darker roasts, with the caramel, toffee flavours and the shorter style latte’s in the southern hemisphere.

Image of Kelburn Cafe a wooden two storey building in the afternoon sun

Te Papa is normally a place I visit each time I do make it to Wellington, and I had heard so much about the Gallipoli exhibit. It features sculptures 2.4x human scale created by Weta Workshop.

Image of a larger than life size sculpture of a NZ doctor during the Gallipoli campaign in WWI housed at Te Papa Museum in Wellington
Image of a larger than life size sculpture of a nurse crying during the Gallipoli campaign in WWI housed at Te Papa Museum in Wellington

The detail was pretty insane. Even down to the beads of sweat and things like arm and leg hair which moved in the air conditioning.
I really liked the lighting in the exhibition as well, drawing focus to the sculptures and plunging most of the room in darkness.

Image of paper poppies with notes written on them at the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa Museum in Wellington
Image of a larger than life size sculpture of a soldier eating during the Gallipoli campaign in WWI housed at Te Papa Museum in Wellington
Image of a larger than life size sculpture of a soldier loading magazine clips into a machine gun during the Gallipoli campaign in WWI housed at Te Papa Museum in Wellington

At the end they supply poppies that you can write a message on, or remember a loved one. So I popped one in there for my Pa who was a prisoner of war during WWII.

My brother and sister in law have just moved to a new place out at Camborne, which has a beautiful walkway around the Pauatahanui Inlet to Mana.
There are gorgeous little boathouses that line the walkway as well, and it was such a lovely way to meander to or from the train station to get into the city.
Also an excellent little coffee cart at the end of the walkway.

Our last night in Wellington, before I head back with the parents to Whanganui for a couple of days, was spent at Ngati Toa Domain on the beach. Watching the sunset, drinking beer and eating cheese as Jaz (Shepherd/Husky X) played in the water and tried to dig up rocks.
I had forgotten how warm NZ winters can be after living in Canada for 5 years!

It was really lovely to get back home for a quick trip. But I really missed my husband who spent most the time I was away at a conference in LA, and the kitties.
So I was more than ready to come back to beautiful, if somewhat smoky Vancouver.
I’ll be here for a little while longer yet though 😉

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