We arrive at the Bluebridge ferry terminal in Picton as the sun is coming up....us and 36 very excited school kids. Ready for their leadership trip to Wellington.
Secretly I'm dreading the crossing as I'm not good with motion sickness, but the seas were kind and it was smooth sailing. Travelling through the sounds by ferry is just a beautiful sight to see - absolutely magic. Across the strait, the South Island getting further away and the North approaches....Wellington here we come!
The YHA Wellington City is our home for the week. We settle in, then head up Mount Victoria to get rid of some energy. The 360 degree view of the sea, Wellington city and the airport is worth the steep climb.
The main focus of the trip is the National Young Leaders Day. This is an annual leadership event held in major cities around New Zealand. Today's young people are the future leaders and the day aims develop leadership skills to be both inspirational and practical. As an adult...yes, I too was inspired! The speaker line up was sensational. Kelly Wilson, Lisa Tamati, Jono Naylor, Riley Hathaway to name a few. For many of the kids having to catch the train to and from the program was almost as educational and exciting as the rest of the day!
Capital E was the first half of the day. A fun and adventurous learning through creating, acting and producing a TV sports edition - ONTV. I was super impressed by the kids ability and how well they rose to the occasion. The outcome was so professional. The staff that took our kids at Capital E were also very impressive - so passionate about what they do and very good at passing on that passion to our kids.
Up on the cable car to Space Place at the Carter Observatory. (After a quick stroll through the Wellington Botanical Gardens and a play on the cool playground!) The Space Place - what an amazing learning and interactive environment was! All things space and the awesome planetarium to learn about the stars and planets - fascinating for kids and adults alike. Again, the staff and their enthusiasm was brilliant!
Back down on the cable car and a walk to Frank Kitts Park on the Wellington waterfront for afternoon tea. Yes we are pretty good at breaking the day up with a burst of energy at a playground! Adults snuck in a cheeky take away coffee from one of the many barista's along the waterfront.
Next, but not last, stop for the day Te Papa for Gallipoli: The scale of our War exhibition. My family has been through this before, but it was just as awesome a second time around. The larger than life representation of our war members in action puts the hairs up on your arms, and many times makes your eyes well with tears. Always good to remind ourselves, and particularly the younger generation the ultimate sacrifices those before us have made for our future.
Tired after a massive day we were back at the YHA for a shower and tea and lunch preparation for the following day. Quick...the sky is clear, so we headed out for a stroll along the water front for the LUX Light Festival. This was pretty cool. Once a year a light show is on display across the waterfront, some just colours, a DJ with his bright strobe lights, even a bright glowing giant jelly fish hanging in the air....pretty cool.
Exhausted after a massive day.....we gladly went to bed zzzzz
Back to Capital E. This time the kids pushed into their creative side and developed virtual reality computer games in the MEDIALAB. In the short space of time they nailed it! Again their hosts were super impressive with both their skills and enthusiasm.
Back to our second home, Frank Kitts Park to eat our packed lunches then out for a Wellington Wander. Our Wellington Wander included finding and then taking photos with some iconic Wellington history sites like the Kupe statue, the old government buildings and the Wahine mast. Some souvenir shopping then off to Parliament for a tour.
This was pretty fascinating for the kids, and pretty exciting being at the bee hive when they have seen it on TV so many times. After a quick revisit to Te Papa we marvelled once again at parts of the LUX light show along the foreshore, taking plenty of photos along the way.
Dinner this evening was a treat night out at a Wellington restaurant. The kids had a budget and had to choose the meal accordingly. My team heading our for dinner to the One Red Dog on the harbour front. Set up perfectly as a great family restaurant - but I would recommend you stick to what they specialise in...pizza! The kids thought it was great. A large tray of all sorts of toppings and a pizza base was provided for them so they could create their own - they loved it!
Back at our home for the week...ice cream in a cone for dessert and tired happy kids and adults to bed. Last night - home tomorrow.
Laser Force! So much fun to be had...plenty of competition between the adults and kids! Another great way to get rid of some energy...in fact a great way to build a sweat up!! Back home on another smooth sailing to Picton. One very tired bunch!
As you know...citys are not my first choice to head out and about - but we did have an amazing time and the kids had a ball and experienced so many things they do not see living in a rural area. A great 5 days in the big smoke!