Wellington is a maze of one-way streets, bus-only lanes, dead ends, pedestrian precincts, and streets that peter out against the city’s many steep hills or launch you onto a motorway overpass. Forget the tidy grid pattern of cities like Christchurch and Vancouver, or Dunedin’s clearly marked main street, in Wellington, the downtown is a hodge podge of curved and angled streets with no clear centre. As a result, driving around is a trap for the young player. Often you can see where you want to go but can’t get there unless you’re driving a bus, or care to go cross country. You can’t just drive round the block looking for a car park either – miss where you want to be and you’ll find yourself on an adventure.
All this makes downtown seem very spread out. But it’s actually quite compact and easily walkable once you’ve figured out where everything is in relation to everything else. I discovered today that the Willis Street clothing stores are very close to the library and to Lambton Quay and not, as I’d thought, a prohibitive distance apart. In future, I’ll be parking in one place and walking more. And (I hope) driving round and round in circles less.