Okay, let’s be real here. When someone told me that Wellington is in many ways San Francisco’s younger twin, I instinctively gave them my severest MERICA look. Usually I take comparisons lightly but you’re talking about one of my favorite cities back home. Not wanting to be a butt though, I shrugged my shoulders pretending not to care and just said, “Perhaps.” But no.
Fast forward several weeks and we’ve booked last minute flights to Wellywood. My skepticism about visiting picked up faster than the turbulence from the winds that knocked our plane a bit. The microclimate here already seemed vaguely familiar, but that’s a given really when you live by the bay. After saying hello to Gollum, I wanted to stick with a date night classic by having dinner and a movie. There’s nothing quite like making my cavities ecstatic, and our sweet meringue dessert was followed by Gravity in 3D. Awesome surround sound on a larger than life screen = mind blown. I did, however, change my mind about Mars 2023. Screw visiting space!
Now I know that wine is an all-encompassing sociocultural marker, but how can grapes out here match California Wine Country? Jen and Andrea made this burning question their top priority and drove us out so that we could put six different vineyards to the test. Together we sipped, discerned, smelled, savored, and diligently swirled our way through glass after glass. Grudgingly, I have to say that there were many a fine sample, but Palliser’s 2012 Sauv Blanc was my favorite.
Unfortunately, we forgot to hydrate very much and all that fine sugar got the better of us. A brisk walk by the harbour led to a cure from the farmers market – yummy dim sum bun and black pudding (okay, maybe hold off on the blood sausage before noon).
Still not convinced of such parallels to the Golden Gate, I enlisted friend/local Zac Power to give us a true rundown of his hometown. Obviously, he showed up wearing his trademark hipster glasses and oh so classic Vans which just so happened to complement Harold’s beanie/nerd specs/sneaker combo. Embarking on what ended up being quite the grand tour, he showed us the humongous Te Papa Museum. We even made it all official and stuff by taking an actual tour of the Parliament Buildings and the Beehive. For an extra enrichment kick, the Diwali Festival we went to featured many dancers and exhibits, but what really ended up happening was a beeline to the curry stand for homemade naan.
To end it on a flowery note, Zealandia and the Botanic Garden were literally a breath of fresh air and we even made sure to hop onto a cable car. Harold couldn’t resist throwing down a bit out at Weta while I looked in vain for Legolas.
Regardless of the Middle-earth antics, I knew it to be true. Wellington IS like SF, but somehow manages to hold onto a fraternal twin identity with its own kiwi flair. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was the culture, arts, nightlife, hills, wine, or even the politics that sold me. Rather, any city run by hipsters who have loads of interesting conversations and open views to share is definitely cool in my book… perhaps even worthy of the Golden title itself.