Sights around Wellington

Occasionally it’s a beautiful day in Wellington. No wind, calm, and it’s a stunner. I took advantage of a day like this to go on a scooter ride around Wellington.

I’ve bought a scooter to do a round-New Zealand road trip. Obviously I’m not the first person to go around New Zealand. But I think there’s appeal in doing by 50cc scooter. It’s faster than a bicycle, it’s slower than a motorcycle. You can stop and smell the roses, but also not get exhausted going up a hill. But before going around New Zealand, it makes sense to see if the scooter I purchased can even go around Wellington.

First Wellington stop – Petone

And so, after refilling with Petrol ($10 worth, or about 5L), and loading it full of two-stroke oil for combustion and lubrication, the first destination was Petone.

Obviously a 50cc scooter doesn’t go very fast. A modern fuel efficient 4 stroke scooter like a Suzuki Lets goes about 50kmh with the wind blowing behind you.If you’re going up a slight hill, you could probably do about 30kmh. They’re terrible. Anyways, 2 stroke scooters are quite a bit more powerful since they have a bang every other stroke (ladies!), unlike a four stroke, which is a bang every four strokes. More bangs equals more power. So I ended up buying a 2 stroke Aprilia SR 50 R, which is one of the fastest 50 cc scooters out there. I believe mine has been tweaked, as it can go 70kmh comfortably, or 85kmh terrifyingly.

Going 70kmh alongside vehicles doing 100kmh isn’t that scary. Basically it feels like vehicles are overtaking you doing 30kmh which isn’t so bad. And the road between Wellington and Petone is extra wide, with two lanes in both directions, and a bike lane on the side. I stuck to the bike lane and felt very safe, except when having to pass the occasional cyclist.

Eastbourne drenched in Wellington sun

After Petone, with the scooter humming, it was time to head towards Eastbourne. Eastbourne is on the opposite side of the harbour to Wellington, and is a quaint little sea side village. It’s pretty well to do, with many million dollar houses. I can see the appeal, catch a ferry to work, then return home to your house drenched in afternoon sun, while the poor people of Wellington are stuck in the shadows of the hills surrounding them. Eastbourne is also the starting point of a walk towards the Pencarrow Lighthouse. You can bike it as well, but I think it’d be a little rude if I took the scooter past everyone. 4 stroke scooters are pretty quiet – but 2 stroke scooters sound awful.

Wainuiomata

From Eastbourne, it was then time to head up over the Wainuiomata Hill, and then on towards the Coast Road. The Wainuiomata Hill is a pretty steep 80kmh hill, and the Aprilia could do about 50kmh, which was pretty good. In the far left, there were no problems, except for a few boy racers letting off their blow-off valves going past. And fair enough, a scooter on the hill is a pretty weird sight. I’d never seen so many pretty old cars with mags since Hamilton and Taumarunui. And I say that fondly, having been an owner of a 1987 U12 Nissan Bluebird Rallyspec Edition.

Wainuiomata has a bit of a rough reputation, but I’m not sure it’s deserved. Going through the main street all the houses looked presentable, there was no graffiti on the fences. Sure, not everyone there is rich, but I think that applies to most of New Zealand to be honest.

On the other side of Wainuiomata is the Coast Road drive out to the well, coast. It’s about 20km away, and takes you alongside a fertile river valley. The road is an 80kmh road with a few twists and turns which makes for an interesting ride.

One thing I realised is that riding a scooter for an hour a time makes your bottom pretty numb. It’s kinda obvious in hindsight (hind, get it?) but true none-the-less. At the end of the coast road is the sea, and it’s one of my favourite places around Wellington. As you approach the landscape changes. The Gorse covered hills pretty suddenly changes to light vegetation and grass. It’s desolate – just a parking lot and the beach. There’s typically no one, or one or two people there, but hardly anybody. And there’s these scenic vistas of hills with light scrub approaching all the way down to the sea. The beach itself is grey sand and pebbles and rocks. Certainly not a sunbathing beach. But with sheep and lambs around, views of the South Island, it was a great place to have a sandwich.