After some recuperation from the James Bond themed party, VNTRbirds were up and ready for the next adventure Wellington had to offer. Finding online that there was a Chocolate Festival going on over the weekend, Jaime and Kelley were so down to enjoy some sweets. Before going to the hotel where it was being hosted, the birds met up with Oliver for a quick trip to the DOC and talk over their South Island plans with the experts.

The Department of Conservation in Wellington is a small shop with all the little “touristy” nic-naks everyone would buy for family members. But that’s not it, it also has HUGE maps of both the North and South Island painted up on the walls, and rows upon rows of brochures, maps, topographic maps and whatever one would need for a smooth travel experience. With only two women working at that time, TUB and Oliver wandered around for a minute or two before they were approached. “How can we help you today?”, came out of a cheery woman with dyed red hair. The excitement of the trip boiled up and everything spilled out at once. Kelley pulled out her itinerary of the planned trip and handed it over to the woman.
Looking for different hikes and campsites, along with hostels and scenery, Thumbs Up Bird’s plans have already changed, but not too drastically. Adding in some towns for decent drives, and not going to others the birds and Ollie left with smiles and reinsurance that this road trip will be the best time of their lives.

Oliver and the girls parted on the corner of Willis Street so that TUB could now join in some sweet festivities. Rounding the corner of Grey Street, VNTRbirds found themselves looking up at the InterContinental Hotel on brilliant brick walkways. Going through the ticketing tent to get scanned and stamped, VNTRbirds were approached by many women wearing brown aprons stating, “will work for chocolate” on the fronts.
Through the glass doors the birds were swept away with the scent of all different types of chocolate. Ascending the staircase TUB looked out onto multiple different chocolatiers, vending their company’s goodies. Going around the main room enjoying running marshmallows underneath a chocolate fountain, trying little nibblets of sweets and sometimes even getting a whole piece to sample. In the center of all of this goodness was Renaissance Brewery. Trying a little shot worth of the chocolate beer, TUB noticed the brewer, Andy, had an American accent. Chatting with him about California, he told VNTRbirds that he moved to New Zealand 12 years prior and has never left. His two sisters soon moved over with him. This started images of life in New Zealand for the two girls.



Moving into the ‘ChocElite’ room, TUB enjoyed more samples of some stranger chocolate, including: Lemongrass, Pistachio and cranberry, roasted sesame, and even heat resistant chocolate. Chatting with a bunch of different people the girls were definitely having fun and Jaime was putting her camera to work. Squeezing in and out of the crowds to get little tastes of chocolate and pop back out, the girls left the elite and went over to ‘ChocBuds’ to wait for the chocolate tasting to begin.
Meeting Rene Fellman, a Swiss chocolatier, he explained the different processes of making the actual chocolate. Handing out slabs of Dark Sweet, Dark, Dark Bitter, White and Milk chocolate, Rene made this activity into something one could compare to a wine tasting. Holding up the chocolate, rubbing it to get a fragrance, then placing a small piece on the tongue and letting it melt in your mouth, creating a whole new chocolate experience. All the while, Jaime and Kelley just ate the chocolate and was ready for round two.



Leaving the upstairs activities, TUB sat at the bar and ordered up their last bit of sweets; a chocolate martini for Kelley and a chocolate chippy [made with rum and awesomeness] for Jaime. Sipping their fancy drinks, the girls discussed the past, present and future then headed towards the AroRental for some movies. Taking the long way home, TUB walked along the waterfront, watching Tui birds, long boarders and free runners at practice.


Ending the night with a hearty dinner and ‘The Waking Life’, TUB will be back to the books tomorrow.