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Bus to Hataitai’s Brilliant Beach

Busing across the city to a beach in the early morning for a swim seemed a good idea at the time. I could get in before the crowds. Start the day properly with exercise and nature time. I’d be meeting my New Year’s resolution of making the most of what this city has to offer.   I was, however, slightly dubious about the transport connections. Wellington’s public transport system, Metlink, serviced by Greater Wellington Regional Council, has been riddled with issues since its new timetable and route system came into effect in 2018.  From driver strikes and shortages to the mysterious ‘ghost bus’ phenomenon, travelling by public transport in this city has not been smooth riding.   In an attempt to both address the systemic issues of the services and revolutionise the region’s transport system the Let’s Get Wellington Moving Project was born. A two-decade transformation project, it includes planning for how an increasing population will get around and to the city.   Focused on city development alongside the transport system, this partnership project is all about living, working and travelling in Wellington better. I am happy to relay that my experience of busing to the beach was better than I expected. I wanted good. I got great.   The transition to the number 2 bus went without a hitch. I got a seat next to my mother who had gotten on several stops earlier as we had texted to arrange the night before. We chatted as we were driven from the green western hilly suburbs through the CBD and then through the bus tunnel to Hataitai, an inner-city suburb that lies on the Southeastern flanks of iconic Wellington landmark Mt Victoria.   We met friends at Hataitai beach, a curve of water on the inner harbour and marking the Eastern side of much larger Evans Bay.  A popular swimming beach, I could see why. Small compared to the ever-popular Oriental Bay beach several bays back around the coast towards the CBD, Hataitai Beach is picturesque with rustic boat sheds and yachts often moored not too far from the shoreline. With changing rooms and toilet facilities, as well as access by concrete ramp, Hataitai Beach is a place designed to be enjoyed by all. As I had planned to do – I swam. I also built sandcastles with children I had just met. When I floated on my back, everything went quiet, the world disappeared into sea and sky. That is until I submerged and kicked through small waves before breaking the surface with a big gasp of air and then, slowly, striking back towards land and the promise of a café coffee en route home.   By Stella Peg Carruthers

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