I moved to New Zealand in November 2008 and didn’t really know what to expect at all. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I hardly knew where the country was. You know Papa New Guinea? Yeah, I thought that was New Zealand. Well, at least it wasn’t too far off, right? To be fair, we never really learned about New Zealand in school. Australia was pretty much as far as we went. And New Zealand keeps getting cut off the map a lot of the time too, which doesn’t help.
I remember arriving in Wellington amazed. There were so many hills everywhere. Sweden is pretty flat, so it was very different. And the water was so beautiful and blue! As homesick as I felt the first couple of months, I was thoroughly enjoying New Zealand at the same time.
Can you tell how pasty white I was on that photo? Well, the sun doesn’t give you a tan as easily in Sweden, and I spent most of my time indoors before going to New Zealand anyway!
We spent the first month exploring Wellington, one of the cutest little cities I’ve ever been to, and have been lucky enough to live in for the last 8 years. Oriental Bay was pretty cool to me, because we don’t really have proper beaches in Sweden. I was gutted to later find out that Oriental Bay is a fake beach – but hey, I’ll take it.
The Mount Victoria lookout was also pretty amazing to me. Viewpoints like those are hard to find in Sweden too. Can’t say I go up there often anymore, but definitely recommend it for tourists.
Jeremy of course took me to Te Papa – the best museum in New Zealand. To me, probably the best museum I’ve ever been to. And what’s even better about it – it’s free! You can spend hours in there, and if I remember correctly, we were there for quite some time, checking out all the free exhibitions.
You could even create your own giant squid on a computer at one of their exhibitions. I suppose it was mostly meant for kids, but I thoroughly enjoyed creating my own. We’ve been back to Te Papa many times since, and last time I was there, I checked up on my giant squid. They keep them in the system and it shows you how old it is. My giant squid is now almost 8 years old!
Last but not least, we took the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are beautiful in summer. These photos aren’t the best, because we didn’t have a DSLR camera or anything back then. But we did what we could! I would definitely recommend that you go check them out yourself if you haven’t already.
It was a pretty great summer, and I only have fond memories from my first summer in New Zealand. I would definitely recommend Wellington as a place to visit. Unfortunately it often gets neglected because of all the other amazing spots in the country.
If you have a spare day or two you should definitely make sure you stop by! Check out my Wellington A-Z post for more tips on what to do here.