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Eight years ago I moved to Wel­ling­ton. I’ve wanted to go home ever since. I’ve tried to find a way every year. But not this year. This year I’m set­tling in.

One of my best friends and I moved down from Auck­land almost sim­ul­tan­eously. We moved into a flat in Hataitai. Big mis­take. “Oh,” thought the build­ers of that house, “what a lovely view we will get from the side of Mt Vic. Let’s build right here.”

How about “No”? How about, “That’s a ter­rible idea. That hill you’re perched on will cast a shad­ow across your house from about 11 o’clock every morn­ing. You will live in the half-dark. Oh, and you think it’s a good idea to install a two-storey lead­light win­dow to bleed out what little warmth your house holds?”

Yes, please do that. My friend and I thank you for the vit­am­in D defi­ciency that threw us both into a depres­sion aptly named SAD. It’s a thing. Google it.

That first Wel­ling­ton winter was misery. But then, so was the next one, when I still hadn’t real­ised that an Auck­land winter ward­robe doesn’t even start to keep out Wellington’s light sum­mer breeze. And should we even dis­cuss the asylum-filling winds of spring?

Actu­ally, call­ing that dis­rup­tion to the atmo­sphere ‘wind‘ may not fully con­vey to non-Wel­ling­to­ni­ans what really hap­pens. What really hap­pens is that, for nearly a full month in spring, the air around you spins and spins, around and around, up and down, through your hair, into your skirt, up your nose. It’s kind of like a mil­lion demon bees tor­ment­ing you with their flappy wings until you flip out and hurl your sand­wich to the ground because that is far prefer­able to tak­ing one more bite of chick­en, tomato and blow­ing hair.

But, one magic­al day, you learn to sur­vive. You tie your hair up. You swap your skirts for pants. You change the dir­ec­tion you’ll run around the bays today to get the wind at your back. You make like every­one else and wear black. (By the way, to all you out­siders who like to cri­ti­cise our met­ro­pol­it­an uni­form, we wear black because it’s func­tion­al. Black traps sun­light. It makes us warm­er. Vit­am­in D tab­lets also help.)

Once you’re sur­viv­ing Wel­ling­ton, you start appre­ci­at­ing Wel­ling­ton. Now that your Beetle­juice-crazy hair’s out of your face, you spot the pretty things you’ve missed. The dome lights along the har­bour at night, the spin­ning green pebbles on a giant stick on Lamb­ton Quay, the gor­geous bricks of St Gerard’s perched on the sunny side of Mt Victoria.

And then Wel­ling­ton hits you with the clinch­er. House prices. You start telling your Auck­land friends it is pos­sible to buy a bet­ter house, for cheap­er, right in town. If only they‘ll move to the cap­it­al. Oh, they’d prefer to live in the burbs? Well, let’s talk about the traffic jams between that sub­urb and work. That’s right, they don’t exist. And hey, do we need to talk about the qual­ity of the food in Wel­ling­ton res­taur­ants? No. You get the point. In WGT vs. AKL, the former wins hands down.

So, this year I’m finally stay­ing put. Hap­pily. Boy, those Vit­am­in D tab­lets must finally be kick­ing in.

Heather du Plessis-Allan

Heather is a Jafa who's called Wellington home for seven years and counitng. The wind still drives her crazy, but the bucket fountain still makes her smile. She's running around Oriental Bay and learning to surf Lyall Bay. Her day job is reporting for TVNZ's Seven Sharp.