Tasmania & New Zealand 2014 travel blog

Traditional Maori meeting house

Ferns over Wellington

Modern interpretation of Maori meeting house

Bridge/sculpture in Wellington

Ice skating in Wellington

Maori carving and weaving at Museum of City and Sea

Fireman @ lower left is headed down; one at upper right is...

Cable car to botanical garden and observatory


Yes, 2 nights in the same place! Today was a very big day of activities. We got up, showered at the Motorhome Park, ate muffins and boysenberries for breakfast in the van. It was a surprisingly quiet night, despite being parked facing a very busy street. The traffic died away overnight.

Then we were off to the Museum of City and Sea. On the way we passed an outdoor ice skating rink on the waterfront. See the photo—there were sleds shaped like seals for children and for those who didn’t want to skate on their own but who had children who did.

The museum was very good—had sections on public health, social welfare, education, etc. in late 19th century Wellington. There was an excellent multimedia presentation of a couple Maori legends; we think maybe it was done with holograms. Figures were projected onto a small stage with various props—the actors moved back and forth and seemed very lifelike. There was also a regular video projection onto a small screen on the ceiling. There were other exhibits on Maori in the region, and a video about the Wahine, a ferry from the South Island, which sank in Wellington Bay during a storm in 1968. About 58 people died. Neither Larry nor I remember it.

Leaving that museum, we headed for the i¬-Site. In the plaza nearby was a shiny silver ball sculpture called Ferns, magically suspended overhead, accompanied by sculpted nihau palm trees. From there we headed for The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, commonly known as Te Papa.

Again, we were distracted along the way by a firemen’s competition, the national championships no less. Two firemen at a time, in full gear, had to race up the stairs of a structure carrying a weight, haul up a hose from the top, race back down, stand on 2 rails and pound a weight back 1.5 meters with a sledgehammer, run a slalom course, pick up a hose and run back with it and squirt a target, then pull a 80-kilo dummy 30 yards. They were racing each other, but were judged on time (under 3 minutes for most). Just as entertaining was the children’s version nearby.

Te Papa had a number of Maori objects, including some wakas (canoes), carvings for buildings, etc. Especially striking was the traditional marei, or meeting house, and a modern interpretation of that, also designed and built by Maori. There was also a display of “wearable art,” mostly very bizarre dresses, that was fun to look at. We even bought a “thick milkshake” at the café. Larry likes milkshakes a lot, but most of the ones he has bought on this trip have been basically milk, shaken. This one did have ice cream and chocolate syrup, with some air whipped in. Eventually it was time to leave Te Papa.

It was after 5 pm, and almost all the stores were closed. We walked to the cable car and took it up the hill to the Botanic Garden. We explored a small part of that, and enjoyed the views of the city from up on the hill.

Finally, we went to the Carter Observatory. We watched their planetarium show and looked at some of their exhibits, and talked to the man who did the planetarium show. By now we were exhausted, so we took the cable car back down the hill. We were also hungry—since breakfast we had had a little gelato and the milkshake, and now it was about 8:30 pm. So we stopped at a McDonald’s that was near the cable car. The offerings were a little different than at home, but we had a burger & fries and a salad with grilled chicken, similar to what we could have had in the US. This was the first McDonald’s we have been to on this trip, and we actually haven’t seen many. But we didn’t see anything else that was open nearby.

Thus fortified, we made it back to our campervan without difficulty, and I fell into bed. It was about 9:30 pm, and we had been on our feet most of the day. Larry stayed up a while longer, but not long. Good day, long day.

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