Te Papa Museum

I am still in Wellington New Zealand for one more day. I have heard good things about the Te Papa Museum so that is today’s destination.

First I stop for a fancy breakfast and coffee.

The museum is in walking distance from my hotel so I stroll around town on the way there.

I am obsessed with these crossing lights. The stop is a man and the go is a lady. I am the weirdo taking pictures of the walk signal.

Te Papa museum is by the water.

The first section I visit is the Nature section, or the section dedicated to things natural to New Zealand such as volcanos, earthquakes and birds and other wildlife.

I am obsessed with this slimy sucker, something out of a science fiction movie.

And of course I have to check out the kiwis, birds I still have not seen alive.

And some bigger dumb birds with little or no arms.

The star of this exhibit is the humongous squid. It is what nightmares are made of.

It’s the biggest colossal squid ever caught! 

There is a very impressive Maori exhibit. (For the most part photos are not allowed inside). I learned many things about the Pacific peoples who came to inhabit New Zealand. I even tried to learn some new words

Rongomaraeroa Te Marae (communal meeting place)

I loved the section that contained portraits of Maori tattoos. The exhibit explained the meaning behind the tattoos. They were beautiful to see.

Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa

The modern art exhibit bursts with color.

While at the Weta Workshop yesterday I heard our guide mention the Gallipoli exhibit at the Te Papa. The workshop is responsible for designing the characters from this exhibit that shows the struggle troops from New Zealand dealt with during World War I.

It is also at this museum that I learn that I can probably never immigrate to New Zealand due to my “advanced age”. Maybe I’ll end up in a highly desired employment someday or some cute kiwi wants to help give me citizenship 😉

After the museum I stop at Mr Go’s restaurant for some Asian dishes.

I wander some more around town.

And stop for one last beer at Fortune Favours at their nice upstairs taproom.

It is back to the hotel for me to pack up and get back on the road tomorrow. I head next to Rotorua.

Heading to Wellington

Today I am crossing over to the North Island of New Zealand.

The transportation mode of choice is the ferry. I still have my campervan so I pay for a special ticket to transfer my car as well.

I arrive very early but it ended up being futile because we wait quite a while until the ferry arrives, in fact it is actually running late today.

Finally the cars are let on. I am directed to park. I am supposed to turn off some sort of security alarm on my van but I can’t figure it out. I hope it goes ok anyway.

I lock up my van and bring some things to occupy me during the ride (3.5 hours). I explore the ferry a bit then find a nice and quiet place to hang out inside for my ride. I do order lunch on board but it isn’t that spectacular to write about.

Once I exit the ferry in Wellington it doesn’t take me long to drive to my hotel for the next couple nights, Capital View Motor Inn Motel. This is a planned hotel stay to break up my van nights (I will have more unplanned hotel stays as you will see later).

The hotel room is decent and has a kitchen which I don’t get to use too much except for breakfast and such. My only concern is parking my campervan. Since the hotel is in the city, I knew to plan in advance for this by asking the hotel if they had a space that would hold my van. They reserved a spot for me but it is very small. Fortunately I am able to get the van in there and squeeze my body out past the brick wall on one side (It would have been much easier if the car on the other side gave me more space). It is stressful but all is well. I don’t plan on moving it the next couple days.

I don’t have much time to settle in since I made a reservation at Weta Workshop this afternoon. I only recently before my trip even learned about Weta Workshop. Weta is the group of artists that craft all kinds of imaginative character renderings – such as Lord of the Rings. One can book a tour to see their facility.

While waiting for my tour to begin I look around the shop.

The tour takes us to a couple different rooms, each talking about another area of design. One has posters from all the movies and shows the group has worked on. The resume is impressive.

Most of the tour did not allow photos but we did come to a section where we were introduced to an artist and his construction methods; we were allowed to take photos in that room.

I ended up booking a second tour, not knowing what the second tour actually was. It ended up being a tour of the Thunderbird’s miniature sets. I have never seen the show but it is very interesting how the sets are designed and filmed.

The set designers use everyday things in the construction of the sets.

After my visit I take an uber back into the main city area to order dinner.

I end up at an outdoor cafe where I get my Haloumi fix once more – Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant.

HALLOUMI BURGER
Green pea falafel patty, shredded cos, Zany Zeus halloumi, beetroot relish, avocado dressing & spring onion

It is still early so I head down to HeyDay Beer Co to try a flight.

Their sample pours seem kind of large. I feel like I am getting a good deal.

After that it is back to the hotel for the evening.

Kaikoura, there she (doesn’t) blow

Train to Kaikoura

We take the train to Kaikoura today. We arrive at the station in Kaikoura and there is no uber and no regular taxis. There is only one guy with a passenger van who will give rides from the train station. He has a business card but doesn’t seem to be always available for rides. I arrange a ride in the morning to the dock for my whale watching boat (at the time I didn’t realize it is in walking distance from my hotel). Anyway, it is hard to get around here without a car unless you don’t mind walking a while.

The ride to Kaikoura is beautiful with an open air observation car at the back of the train (think cattle car).

Train station and whale watch office

Hotel in Kaikoura – Lobster Inn Motor Lodge

My aunt has a sunset kayak tour scheduled for the evening. We originally thought I would be joining her but I have done some damage to my shoulders while traveling. I am pretty sure ocean kayaking is not in the cards for me at this time. Unfortunately due to rough seas her tour gets cancelled for the evening. She hopes to do a paddle tomorrow sometime during the day instead.

We arrive early enough for lunch. We visit the cafe across the street where I get to try green-lipped mussels. They are large and quite tasty.

I go to bed early because I have an early morning boat ticket for whale watching tomorrow. Kaikoura is supposed to be a magnificent place to see whales and other sea animals.

There is a 6:45 arrival time for my tour, the first tour of the day. My driver drops me off on time at the office. Once I arrive I come to find out that both my cruise and the cruise scheduled immediately after is cancelled due to rough seas. There are people in line already to reschedule for a later time but most of the other times this morning are already booked. The only time I can reschedule is for the afternoon but doing so would make me miss our train ride that we have booked back to Christchurch. I am disappointed. I usually schedul multiple days in a location in case something like this happens but in this case I did not.

My aunt goes on her kayaking tour this morning as scheduled. I plan to meet up with her later in town. I decide to walk back to the motel from the whale office instead of trying to find the one taxi guy in town. It is a nice walk along the beach.

I spend a couple hours making some phone calls that are much needed to the USA. I have a short window to take care of business by phone since our days are their nights and vice-versa.

After I take care of things I walk down to town. It is a cute little town. I see signs for crayfish everywhere but I am too cheap to order it so instead I end up getting a huge fried flounder and chips at Strawberry Tree Kaikoura. While the fish below is quite tasty, I regret passing up the crayfish because later when I get serious about trying it before I leave New Zealand I end up paying even more for it and end up disappointed. It is probably much fresher in Kaikoura.

My aunt finally meets up with me and helps me finish the fish. She has a photo of the bones and asked if I wanted to post it but it isn’t pretty so I’ll forgo the photo.

We have a little more time to kill before we pick up our luggage so we visit the local museum Kaikōura Museum. It gives a little taste of the history of the area. There is a good exhibit that talks about the major earthquake that occurred in 2016. A great deal of damage had been done to the coast, roads and tunnels. It is said to have pushed the south island 5km closer to the north island.

We head back to get our luggage and then to the train. We are heading back to Christchurch to overnight before our day trip to Arthur’s Pass tomorrow.

Kaikoura is beautiful and I am very sad I didn’t get to see whales during my visit. If I ever make it back to New Zealand it is definitely on my list again – next time for more days.

Video of train ride to Kaikoura

Christchurch

Titan arum aka Corpse Flower

I have arrived in Christchurch New Zealand to begin a couple day tour with my aunt and then a multi-week tour in a campervan by myself. I am excited about New Zealand because everyone who has visited before me boasts of its beauty.

We stop in Christchurch for the evening before taking the train to Kaikoura tomorrow.

After we check into the motel I suggest we go walk to dinner nearby at Dux Dine. It is a cute restaurant built in what looks like a former house. I order one of the fish dishes. I am also tempted to try Pavlova, a New Zealand sweet dessert. I order another glass of wine to enjoy with the dessert. I’ll be a while so my aunt leaves before me to walk back to the hotel.

Walking back toward the hotel I come across a walking trail with some wall art.

Brockworth Street Art Gallery

I head back to the hotel where I again meet up with my aunt. She has gone for a walk and discovered the nearby botanical garden where a corpse flower has begun to bloom. She knows I have been awaiting corpse flowers to bloom all over the USA and just seem to miss them. This is my chance to see one in action. The admission is free at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

We walk to the botanic garden which is not far from the motel (Aalton Motel). The path to the conservatory contains many interesting looking pines.

The corpse flower or titan arum is fun to catch in action because it only blooms every 7-10 years.

As we wait in the line for the plant I can start to smell the signature smell, a smell some compare to rotting corpse stench. But the smell doesn’t bother me too much; perhaps because I am not catching it at full bloom.

The conservatory is open until late tonight so I could come back to try to catch it at a fuller bloom but I choose to just be satisfied with my viewing.

We catch some roses on our way out. A great way to cleanse the nose palate.

Our visit to Christchurch is short but we will be back in a day or so. In that time I will learn more about the effect the earthquakes of year 2011 caused on the south island. The effects of that earthquake are felt far and wide, including the destination we head to tomorrow, Kaikoura.

More Great Ocean Road Australia

I have just left my wildlife retreat. Currently (December 2019) Australia is experiencing an outbreak of fires. I start actively watching for news updates because the fires escalate day by day. I may need to alter travel plans or even leave the country.

Today I am heading to an airbnb in Port Fairy Victoria. I am staying in an adorable cottage for the night and stopping at some sights along the way.

Gibson’s steps

My first stop of the day is Gibson’s steps.

The steps provide a pathway down to a beautiful beach. Today the Gibson steps are closed due to storm damage and erosion. I just soak up the view up top instead.

Great Ocean walk

From the parking lot I notice a trail marker for the Great Ocean Walk. I read later that that it is an 100k scenic walk along the coast. Today I only walk a little bit of the trail since I hadn’t prepared for a long hike.

12 Apostles

I head back to my car for the short drive to the twelve apostles, a collection of limestone rocks off the coast.

I plan to head to the next rock formation down the road, Loch Ard Gorge, but I see a sign for a cheese and food trail and suddenly decide it is more important to follow that trail then to stop at any other roadside wonders.

12 Apostles Food Artisans

I follow the road with the food trail signs until I get to the first stop Apostle Whey Cheese. I skip the chocolate stop (Gorge Chocolates). I know you must be thinking there something wrong with me but I prefer a block of cheese over a chocolate bar 99% of the time.

I partake in a cheese sampler, tour the grounds and purchase to cheese to go.

I also pick up an official copy of the food map.

I head off to the next location but stop to look at some cows on the way.

I am heading to a brewery nearby, Sow and Piglets Production Brewery. From the website it appears that they sell sausages and such to eat. Beer samples and sausages sound good to me. When I arrive I find the brewery is closed for tastings. I must have arrived off season. If I want to try the beers I have to go to their microbrewery location in town.

Instead I head to the town of Timboon. My first stop is Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. It is a whisky distillery and restaurant. I try a couple whisky samples and then sit down for a late lunch.

Slow cooked beef over potato cake

I finally try a sow & piglet beer.

Right around the corner is an ice cream shop. I head over to Timboon Fine Ice Cream where they have some unique and fun flavors (at least to this American).

I order one scoop of Orange & Cardamon and one scoop of Rhubarb & raspberry. I really love the flavors.

After my ice cream I head back on the road. I plan to go straight to my Airbnb but I drive by Cheese World and I cannot help stopping.

They have Meredith Dairy in stock. I first learned about Meredith Dairy in central Florida where a local cheese monger sells the marinated goat cheese feta. It probably is one of the best cheeses I have ever tasted. Meredith Dairy cheese is produced in Victoria; in fact I emailed the farm to see if they gave tours before my trip and sadly they do not. In the USA we import the feta but some of their other products are new to me. I pick up some cheese to take back to my cottage tonight.

I check out the cheese store’s wine collection which is unfortunately heavy on the not so great wines we can already try in the USA. Luckily I already have some bottles I purchased a couple days prior.

I head to my cottage in Port Fairy to rest for the evening. It is an adorable cottage named Elizabeth Margaret Brady Cottage built in 1860.

There is charming bedroom and a cozy living room with a working gas fireplace that I use that evening.

The cottage can hold a small family. There is an attached area with another bedroom and bathroom. It is a pretty large place all to myself. There is also a washer on sight. I am happy to be able to do laundry.

additional bedroom and mini kitchen

There is complementary wine. I can add it to my wine and cheese tasting for the evening.

I prepare some snacks and a cheese plate and relax by the fire for a evening. Today has been a great day.