But, it is only a bus journey away. On our first morning in New Zealand we were keen to start exploring. We bought our 'Snapper' cards for the bus and headed into the centre. After the long flights followed by fitful jet-lagged sleep, it was wonderful to get to the harbour - looking sparkly in the Autumn sun. It had been a stormy night, but we have had a rapid introduction to the changing weather of Wellington - blowing a gale one minute, and clear blue skies the next.
Occasionally dolphins and rays can be seen in the waters, but I suspect not all that often and we made do with some little fish darting along the harbour edge. Bruce introduced me to the NZ cafe culture with my first flat white, and we wandered along to the museum Te Papa.
We concentrated on the natural history section, including some hands on activities and even the opportunity to crawl through a life size model of a blue whale heart!
On the second day we were back down into the centre. We were starting to notice errors in our packing - my waterproof in a shipping container instead of plane luggage. So we did a mixture of shopping and absorbing the sights and sounds of Wellington.
Looking back, these early days are a bit of a blur. We hit huge waves of tiredness in the late afternoon or early evening. But we also managed to buy groceries and get meals on the table. I obtained an NZ driving licence (a straight forward, friendly process). We unpacked, and the girls tried to work out how to personalise their rooms in the absence of their usual home comforts.
Also, early in our time here we had a lovely treat from our next door neighbours. Their elder daughter (who is a year younger than Pippa) made a fabulous chocolate cake to welcome us. She came in with her parents and sister to chat a bit. It was great to meet some friendly faces nearby and find out more about the local school and amenities from them.
On Sunday, I went to the Quaker meeting. I hadn't necessarily thought I would get there on the first weekend with the need to settle as a family, but in the end it seemed natural to fit it in and I was off again on our number 3 bus that seems to serve us well from suburb to town.
On Sunday afternoon we went for a drive: more views - this time from the top of Mount Victoria, and a 'proper' beach at Scorching Bay.
From Mount Victoria you can see across the harbour to hills beyond. Although Wellington surrounds a harbour it also has peninsulas so you can see sea and mountains in lots of directions. If you lose your bearings, there is a large sculpture pointing due south.
We chose Scorching Bay for our beach visit largely because we liked the name of its cafe Scorch o Rama! Also, on-line recommendations suggested it was one of the best beaches in the area.
We weren't disappointed. It is indeed a lovely spot and I'm sure we'll visit again. It is too cold for bathing this time of year, but bare foot is perfectly acceptable and quite the norm for Kiwis.
The Cafe will also no doubt receive multiple visits. Ice creams, brownies, coffees: all good!
Our first weekend drew to a close, and with Bruce going back to work it felt as though we would need to start moving on from being tourists on holiday to longer term residents of this gem of a city.
More on that anon...