New Zealand 2018

NZ Holiday day 6 – Rotorua

We were all pretty exhausted after all the activity of the previous day.  And it’s not generally possible to take a complete holiday from the usual activities of life.

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

Yes, that is the park laundry. A couple of loads of washing and drying later, we had clean clothes again. So much for my admonition of ‘don’t put things in the wash after just one wear: think carefully about whether it is really dirty or whether you can wear it again’! Clare did a superb job of taking that into consideration but she was the only one. Sigh.

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

While I was ensconced in the laundry the rest of the family headed off in the light rain to dig a hot water hole at the edge of the lake. They figured that they would be wet either way! Lots of fun was had, and some energy expended. By the time they had finished the hot mineral pools at the park had been refilled (the water is changed daily) and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying the warmth and the minerals. There are three mineral pools at the park, all at slightly different temperatures. Only one of them was cool enough for me!

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

And to point out some sewing content – both Clare’s and my bathers (and Stella’s, although you can’t see them under her rashie) were made by me. While the females of the family were enjoying the hot water, the male of the family was having fun with mussels cooked in the park hangi. He is the only one who enjoys shellfish, so we left him to it. Apparently these fresh NZ mussels were the best he’d ever tasted!

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

My goodness, we really do need to give him selfie lessons. So the afternoon was spent between the mineral pools, the swimming pool (that was just Stella – too cold for the rest of us) and the cabin couch with a book.

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

So, things were all very relaxing. Until I went for a walk, intending to take another look at the bubbling mud. And took a step on a sloping pathway and promptly turned my ankle under me hard and landed on the ground hard.

NZ holiday Rotorua day 6 Wednesday

Many thanks to Rotorua Hospital for looking after me so promptly, taking x-rays and confirming that it was not broken but was a bad sprain.  I’ve injured this ankle a few times now, always in a similar way – it’s definitely dodgy.  I will need to plan some serious physio to strengthen it once we return home.  In the meantime I have pain relief, tubigrip and will need to take things a little slowly and ask the rest of the family to wait on me until it is feeling better.  Not what anyone wants to happen while on holiday, but it could have been much worse.  The upside was that I finished reading a book while waiting in the emergency department!

New Zealand 2018

NZ Holiday day 5 – Rotorua

Rotorua is a geothermal area.  Water under the ground is heated by the decay of radioactive elements and it rises to the surface as steam, hot springs, bubbling mud and geysers.  In our holiday park all heating comes from this geothermal energy.  Areas of the ground are hot beneath your feet – Nikki commented on yesterday’s blog post that when she tented here a few years ago the hot ground was great for her back but one of the tent poles buckled from the heat!

2018-01-03_09-23-04

Definitely not your typical holiday park! And really, it’s the natural beauty of the Rotorua area in combination with the geothermal activity that attracts people. The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand tells us the following: New Zealand’s geothermal features are world famous. In particular, the Taupō Volcanic Zone has one of the greatest concentrations of geothermal activity in the world, and is rivalled only by Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

Before Europeans arrived, Māori used hot springs for heating, cooking and preserving food, and for their medicinal and therapeutic properties. These traditional uses did not affect or modify geothermal features greatly.  European settlers soon discovered the scenic charms and healing benefits of thermal springs, and spa bathing became the basis of a rapidly growing tourism industry. Bathhouses and treatment centres were set up in Rotorua from about 1870. Between 1891 and 1904 the number of spa baths taken each year by visitors increased from 10,000 to 100,000. At first this demand could be met by the natural springs, but eventually shallow wells had to be drilled to increase the hot-water supply.

Geothermal waters have been used for many years in Rotorua, and to a lesser extent in Taupō, to heat homes, businesses and institutions. It would have been efficient to develop municipal heating systems, but this was hindered by a lack of capital and political will. Instead, individuals and organisations drilled their own shallow bores, using small-scale, primitive heating systems that wasted a lot of the heat.

There were severe electricity shortages in the 1950s and restrictions were imposed. This encouraged people in Rotorua to drill wells to heat their homes. By the 1970s it became apparent that drawing off hot water was depleting the Rotorua reservoir and damaging local geysers and springs. Since 1991 geothermal extraction has been managed to protect surface geothermal activity. Recent trends have been towards communal systems, with 10 or more households typically sharing a well.  A major use of geothermal energy in Rotorua is pool heating. Swimming pools can contain clean, fresh water warmed by heat exchangers. Mineral pools use the geothermal waters.

My husband says that he’s had a lifelong dream to see bubbling mud.  We were lucky enough to have some right there in our holiday park!  But we knew that there was plenty more to see – there are a number of geothermal parks in the area.  Even as you drive along the streets you can see steam rising in what appear to be random locations.  Kuirau Park Geothermal Reserve near the centre of town is free.  It has beautiful gardens, a duck pond and a playground as well as boiling pools of mud, sputtering vents, huffing steam and a crater lake.  We decided to spend the day at Te Puia.  The Te Puia complex contains bubbling mud pools, geysers, hot rocks, recreated Maori villages, kiwis, and houses a school for master carver and weavers.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

We began our day examining the recreation of an old village, which demonstrated the ways that the Maori people lived hundreds of years ago. Then we began a tour of the site, led by our guide Carol, from the local tribe.  She told  us that since our ancestors migrated here from Polynesia, people have played a central role in our culture. When someone visits, you are expected to show hospitality and respect. At Te Puia, it’s part of our culture to welcome, guide, feed and entertain you, and treat you like part of the family.  Te Arawa (‘Teh–a–rah–wah’) are the local tribe of this area. Carol referred to us as family throughout the tour, and interwove explanations of the physical attractions of the area with explanations about traditional and modern Maori culture.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

Pōhutu (‘poor-hoo-too’) is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. She erupts once or twice every hour and sometimes reaches heights of 30 metres. Pōhutu means ‘constant splashing’ in Māori. Pōhutu is the most reliable geyser on Earth. Eruptions can last from a few minutes to much longer. Ngā mōkai-ā-Koko is named after Koko, who was a notable chief of the Rotowhio pā (fortified village) in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Koko noticed that each time he visited the mud pool it reminded him of playful children – hence the name, which translates as ‘the cherished ones of Koko’. In more recent times Ngā mōkai-ā-Koko has also been called ‘frog pool’, as it is thought that the plopping mud resembles leaping frogs. Te Tohu was also named ‘Prince of Wales Feathers’ geyser in 1901, in honour of a British royal visit to Whakarewarewa. The royal guests noticed a resemblance between Te Tohu’s plume and the feathers on the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales. Te Tohu is called an ‘indicator’ geyser – it usually erupts just before Pōhutu, it’s neighbour. Te Tohu first sprang to life in 1886 following the eruption of Mount Tarawera. It has played almost continuously since 1992 – erupting to heights of up to 7 metres (21 feet).

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

Rotorua does have a distinctive smell, similar to rotten eggs. It’s due to the hydrogen sulphide released by the geothermal activity. We’ve haven’t found the smell problematic – actually, we’ve become used to it quite quickly. As well as the sulfur compounds released by the geothermal activity there is silica, which creates many of the mineral crusts around the areas where they are released as the very hot water quickly evaporates.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

Although there is a kiwi enclosure at Te Puia, the two birds were snuggled up together in their nesting box and did not want to come out for us to take a look at them. Nature doesn’t perform to order!

We observed a welcoming ceremony outside the marae, a large, beautifully carved building. A marae is a traditional gathering place. Here, visitors are welcomed and entertained. From the Te Puia website: Te Aronui-ā-rua is our carved meeting house. This is where ceremonies and concerts are held. It features stunning carvings, intricately decorated panels and impressive weaving. It was built between 1967 and 1981 by students and graduates of our carving school. This was a great honour for those involved, as carving a sacred meeting house is considered the pinnacle of your career. Meeting houses are usually named after a tribal ancestor but because our carving school embraces all New Zealand tribes, it is named after a ‘basket of knowledge’ in Māori belief. The storehouse beside it is extensively carved.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

Te Puia houses the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, established in the 1920s to foster all aspects of Māori culture. At Te Puia, national schools of carving, weaving and other traditional arts train talented students from around New Zealand under the guidance of master craftspersons. Because the Maori originally had no written language, the designs in the carvings contain special meaning and pass on stories of ancestors and of the people who carve them.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

Unsurprisingly, I was particularly keen to see the women at work producing textiles. The plant commonly known as New Zealand flax – harakere – is actually not related to the plant that provides linen flax. The leaves are used for weaving, and the fibre from within the leaves for clothing, in combination with feathers for special garments.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

We spent around five hours at Te Puia. While we were there the weather changed from sunny enough to give Stella a sunburned shoulder to steadily raining. Things are quite changeable! We headed back to the cabin to chill for a little while before heading out again – this time to a dinner and performance at the Mitai Maori village.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

The village was set in a particularly stunning location on the side of a hill overlooking the lake.  We were led down to a clear cool stream set among the tree ferns and taller trees.  It was incredibly beautiful.  We spotted trout swimming upstream.  After a short while we heard warriors canoeing up the river – it really was quite magical.

NZ day 5 Rotorua

NZ day 5 Rotorua

From there we saw the unveiling of the hangi – the steam cooked meal that we would be eating after the cultural performance that was to come.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

Once again we were treated to a very talented group of singers and dancers, singing in beautiful harmonies and showing off their skills with weapons and the poi.  There were explanations – often quite humorous – of the dances and songs, and the patterns of the face tattoos (moko) were described.

NZ Holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

After dinner (very tasty!) we went on a night walk through the surrounding area, past recreated Maori buildings, and through the trees.  Our guide pointed out the silver fern, the symbol of New Zealand.  With the light shining up onto it it really did glow silver!  We also went past the bubbling Fairy Spring, the source of the crystal clear stream that had been paddled on earlier.  And for me the highlight was walking beside the stream with glow worms providing sparkle of light all in the bushes all around us.  Something that I couldn’t photograph, but certainly remember.  It was like being in an enchanted forest.  Very special.

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

NZ holiday day 5 Rotorua

 

New Zealand 2018

NZ Holiday day 4 – Hobbiton

After retetrising (I’ve just inventing a new word) our luggage into the car and saying farewell to our delightful Air BnB host we headed south to the Hobbiton movie set.  We were grateful that I’d thought to check the Hobbiton website a few days prior, as I snapped up the only available booking time for the week ahead.  Phew!  Dan and I are big fans of the Lord of the Rings books and movies, and Clare has also read The Hobbit.  Stella hasn’t read any of the books or seen the films (the films are definitely not suitable for her age group) but she was still quite keen to see the ‘little village’.

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit, here’s a summary via Wikipedia.  The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien’s 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.[1]

The title of the novel refers to the story’s main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron,[note 1] who had in an earlier age created the One Ringto rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth. From quiet beginnings in the Shire, a hobbit land not unlike the English countryside, the story ranges across Middle-earth, following the course of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its characters, not only the hobbits Frodo BagginsSamwise “Sam” GamgeeMeriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, but also the hobbits’ chief allies and travelling companions: the Men Aragorn son of Arathorn, a Ranger of the North, and Boromir, a Captain of GondorGimli son of Glóin, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas Greenleaf, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard.

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

Miramax Films developed a full-fledged live action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, with Peter Jackson as director. The three films were shot simultaneously. They featured extensive computer-generated imagery, including major battle scenes. The first film subtitled, The Fellowship of the Ring was released on December 19, 2001, the second film subtitled, The Two Towers on December 18, 2002 and the third film subtitled, The Return of the King worldwide on December 17, 2003.  The films were met with both critical and commercial success. 

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is verified to be the currently highest grossing motion picture trilogy worldwide of all time, evidenced by its earning close to $3-billion (US).[24] The film trilogy also set a record for the total number of Academy Awards won, tallying a total of seventeen Oscars.[25] Critical acclaim has commonly hailed the trilogy as “the greatest films of our era,”[26] and “the trilogy will not soon, if ever, find its equal.”[27]

A three-part prequel based on The Hobbit and directed by Peter Jackson was released between 2012 and 2014. The three films are subtitled An Unexpected JourneyThe Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies.[30] As with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the prequel movies were filmed back to back in New Zealand; principal photography began on 21 March 2011.[31] The first film was released on 14 December 2012, the second was released on 13 December 2013, and the third was released on 17 December 2014.

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

The tour of the film set was superb. As you can see from the photos there was rain threatening the entire time we were there, but it stayed light enough for us to enjoy our visit. Our guide was entertaining and highly informative. The following paragraphs are from the Hobbiton Movie Set website.

In 1998, Sir Peter Jackson’s team of location scouts were searching for the iconic rolling hills and lush green pastures of Hobbiton™. An aerial search led them to the Alexander farm, a stunning 1,250 acre sheep farm in the heart of the Waikato. They noted the area’s striking similarity to The Shire™, as described by JRR Tolkien, and quickly realised that the Hobbits™ had found a home.

In one particular part of the farm, a magnificent pine tree towered over a nearby lake, adjacent to a rising hill. Bag End now sits atop that hill, overlooking the Party Tree, as that pine would later be known. The surrounding areas were untouched; no power lines, no buildings and no roads in sight. This meant that Sir Peter Jackson could leave the 20th century behind, and fully submerge himself in the fantasy world of Middle-earth™.

In March 1999 the crew began the nine month quest to bring the ideas for Hobbiton to fruition; help was provided by the New Zealand Army, and soon 39 temporary Hobbit Holes™ were scattered across the 12 acre plot used for the set. Secrecy was key, and strict security measures were put in place by the production company throughout construction and filming. Filming commenced in December 1999, and it took around three months to get a wrap on The Shire.

After an initial attempt at demolition, 17 bare plywood facades remained. These shells would serve as the catalyst that propelled Hobbiton forward into the public eye, with guided tours commencing in 2002.

In 2009, Sir Peter Jackson returned to film The Hobbit trilogy, and he left behind the beautiful movie set you’ll see today; 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes, in the same fantastic detail seen in the movies. In 2012 The Green Dragon™ Inn was opened as the finale to the journey. Guests now finish their Hobbiton Movie Set experience with a refreshing beverage from the Hobbit™ Southfarthing™ Range. There’s an abundance of movie magic nestled inside the fully operational farm.

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

As always, I enjoyed hearing logistical information about set construction and about filming (I always love a factory tour)! We learned about forced perspective, about how a smaller younger version of the oak tree above Bilbo’s house was constructed by hand for the Hobbit trilogy, and that all the hobbit holes at Hobbiton were used for exterior shots only. All indoor scenes were filmed on sound stages.

At one stage our guide told us that The Lord Of The Rings trilogy were the second most read books in the English speaking world. He then asked what we thought the most read book was. Stella quickly replied ‘Harry Potter’! (It is the Bible, for those of you who didn’t know).

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

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The entire family enjoyed our time at Hobbiton – including the glass of ale/cider/ginger beer at the pub at the end of the tour!  I highly recommend it if you’re nearby – but do make certain to book ahead.

From Hobbiton we ventured on to Rotorua and checked in to Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park.  We were delighted to discover that in addition to a very comfortable cabin the facilities included a hangi facility, bubbling mud, hot mineral pools, and a lake just a minute’s walk away.  The park is situated in a thermal area, and although the lake is cold, when you dig into the sand beside it hot water comes bubbling up – so hot that you need to mix it with the cold lake water!

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

NZ day 4 Hobbiton to Rotorua

My parents took my brother and I on a family holiday to New Zealand when I was about 12 or 13.  I have very strong memories of Rotorua being a unique and fascinating place – and so far that still seems to be the case!

New Zealand 2018

NZ Holiday day 3 – Auckland and Waiheke Island

After a hectic day 2 we slept in a little on Sunday.  That two hour time difference seems so small, yet it still takes some adjusting! We have no difficulties staying awake late into the evening – but those mornings are much harder.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

Once we were up and organised we headed in to Downtown Auckland to catch a ferry across to Waiheke Island. Stella was greatly entertained by the vehicle in the above photo.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

Both the Sea Princess and Diamond Princess cruise ships were in town. They really are huge close up!  The Fullers Ferry over to Waiheke Island is a passenger only ferry.  They run every half an hour or so, and the trip took around half an hour.  There are a number of ferry services used to commute around the harbour (much like in Sydney).  The trip over provided us with excellent views of the city and surrounding islands.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

Upon arrival we jumped onto one of the local buses that service the island. Wikipedia tells me the following: Waiheke Island (/wˈhɛk/Māori[ˈwaihɛkɛ]) is the most populated and second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Its ferry terminal in Matiatia Bay at the western end is 21.5 km (13.4 mi) from the central-city terminal in Auckland. Waiheke is the second-largest island in the gulf, after Great Barrier Island, and is the most populated island in the gulf, with 9,250 permanent residents;[1] another estimated 3,400 have second or holiday homes on the island.[2] It is New Zealand’s most densely populated island,[citation needed] with nearly 100 people/km², and the third most populated after the North and South Islands

First stop was Oneroa, where we enjoyed a tasty lunch before going on a wander down the main street. It was very busy, which was to be expected on New Year’s Eve! There were a number of sculptures on display throughout the town (they were also available to purchase).

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

The island is full of wineries and galleries and similar places that would be great to explore with plenty of time and without a tween and a teen. Instead, we jumped back onto a local bus and headed to the Waiheke Museum. It is a volunteer run museum with items donated by locals. This leads to an interesting mixture of eras in each of the displays.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

Back to the bus stop to head to the beach! The girls entertained themselves playing thumb wars.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

We (‘we’ being everyone except me, who looked after our stuff) swam at Onetangi beach. Wikipedia tells me that it is a 1.87-kilometre (1.16-mile) long, north-facing beach lining Onetangi, a Māori name meaning “weeping sands”.[9] For many years it has been the site of the Onetangi Beach Horse Races. Its western end, often inaccessible at high tide, is clothes-optional. It has sandcastle-building contests annually; participants have a few hours to build their creations in soft sand that is free of shells and suitable for digging.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

Santa really should have brought Clare an adult sized round towel rather than a child sized one. Then before we knew it time had flown – back on the bus, back to the ferry, then back to Auckland and back home.  Stella was thrilled to find a small fluffy dog to cuddle on the ferry – she is missing Buzz!

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

We passed the Sky Tower on the way. The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located at the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBDAuckland, New Zealand. It is 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast,[4]making it the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere[5] and the 23rd tallest tower in the world. It has become an iconic landmark in Auckland’s skyline due to its height and unique design. (Thanks Wikipedia). We didn’t go inside and up the tower to see the views, although apparently they are spectacular.

NZ holiday day 3 - Auckland & Waiheke Island

And then it was dinner, then drinks, then everyone in bed before the year turned from 2017 into 2018. May your new year be a happy and fulfilling one.

New Zealand 2018

NZ Holiday day 2 – Auckland

Auckland is a major city with a population of around 1.5 million. It is located on an isthmus between two harbors – one on the Tasman Sea, and one on the Pacific Ocean – all of which were created by volcanic activity. Because of this it’s all hilly with amazing views over water and beaches, pretty much in any direction that you look. What an incredible place! I imagine that people who enjoy water activities would gravitate to Auckland to live and work. It’s all on their doorstep! We knew that we had a great deal to learn about New Zealand in general so headed to the Auckland War Memorial Museum (located on top of a hill with an amazing view).

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

We started with a Museum Tour. I love to wander through museums, getting information from the wall plaques, but there is nothing quite like being able to hear from and ask questions of a local who really knows their stuff.  The museum was built as – you guessed it – a war memorial in 1929.  From their website: The Museum tells the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people. The Museum is a war memorial for the province of Auckland and holds one of New Zealand’s top three heritage libraries. It has pre-eminent Māori and Pacific collections, significant natural history resources and major social and military history collections, as well as decorative arts and pictorial collections.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The stained glass ceiling in this room was really beautiful.  It contained coats of arms of each of the countries that fought alongside New Zealand during The Great War.  The names of those who died fighting for their country were inscribed around the walls, primarily in alphabetical order (no indication of rank – they had all made the ultimate sacrifice).  It was a special space.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

It was a good thing for Stella that she’d seen the movie Moana – it meant that she had some idea about the Pacific Islands! She quickly related many items in the museum to the movie.  Especially this boat.  Once section of the museum traces the movement of Pacific Islanders across the ocean from island group to island group.

Something that really surprised me was finding out that it was only around 700 years ago that Polynesians discovered and settled New Zealand and developed the Maori culture. Apparently New Zealand was the last major land mass to be settled by humans. Australia has been settled by humans for 50,000 years, and for some reason I just presumed that NZ would be similar (probably because of the close ties between the two countries that I have experienced during my lifetime).

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

I’m always fascinated by carvings, particularly as used on decorative/household implements like these combs.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

And a stuffed kiwi – we haven’t seen a live one yet.  Before the arrival of the Maori, New Zealand was populated by birds and insects – there were no mammals at all!  The lack of ground based predators meant that New Zealand developed a number of flightless birds – like the now extinct and up to 3 metres tall moa and the small, distinctive (and endangered) kiwi.  New Zealand is extremely rich and diverse in plant and bird species.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

This is Kave, a goddess figure.  She was regarded as the most important goddess by the Polynesian people of Nukuoro, a small atoll.  She was very powerful and local priests sought her favour with offerings.  She had an accompanying gentle male spirit who was represented by a small lump of rock and was apparently often ‘away’.  By the 1870s Christianity was gaining hold and the old gods like Kave fell out of favour.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

One room of the museum was dedicated to information about volcanoes and how they sculpted the island of New Zealand.  Lots of excellent animations and information.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

This war canoe could hold 70 to 90 people.  I was astounded at the size!  And of course it it is also richly carved and decorated.  Wikipedia tells me the following: Waka taua (in Māori,waka means “canoe” and taua means “army” or “war party”) are large canoes manned by up to 80 paddlers and are up to 40 metres (130 ft)[3] in length. Large waka, such as Nga Toki Matawhaorua[4] which are usually elaborately carved and decorated, consist of a main hull formed from a single hollowed-out log, along with a carved upright head and tailboard. The gunwale is raised in some by a continuous plank which gives increased freeboard and prevents distortion of the main hull components when used in a rough seas. Sometimes the hull is further strengthened, as in the case of Te Winika, a 200-year-old design, by a batten or stringer running lengthwise both inside and outside the hull just above the loaded waterline.[5][6] The resurgence of Māori culture has seen an increase in the numbers of waka taua built, generally on behalf of a tribal group, for use on ceremonial occasions.

Traditionally the war canoe was highly tapu (sacred). No cooked food was allowed in the craft and the waka had to be entered over the gunwales, not the bow or stern which were highly decorated with powerful symbols. Canoes were often painted with black or white with black representing death. The main colour was red which stood for tapu. Sometimes a waka would be placed upright as a marker for a dead chief with the curved bottom of the hull carved.[7] Māori told missionaries during the Musket wars that battles between waka took place at sea with the aim being to ram an enemy’s waka amidships at high speed. The ramming vessel would ride up over the gunwale and either force it under water or cause it to roll over. The enemies were either killed, left to drown or captured to be used in cannibal feasts or as slaves if they were female.[8] 

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

Hotunui is the great meeting house of the Hauraki people.  Following the confiscations of land in the 1860s, Ngāti Awa reaffirmed their traditions and unity in the building of two carved houses, Mataatua and Hotunui. The carving of both was led by Wēpiha Apanui and his father, Apanui Te Hāmaiwaho. Mataatua was opened at Whakatāne in 1875, and it was taken to Sydney and London before being put on display at Otago Museum. Mataatua was eventually returned to Ngāti Awa in 1996. Hotunui was built in 1878 as a wedding gift for Wēpiha’s sister, Mereana, who was marrying a Ngāti Maru leader. The house now stands in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.  It is gradually being restored.  The weavings are carvings are quite spectacular – as it the size.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The three mere (short broad-bladed weapons used to strike or jab an opponent in the body or the head) in the photograph above are carved from greenstone, timber and whalebone respectively.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The museum also held a significant collection of pieces done after European settlement.  The chair below was carved by two women, Edith Fenton and Martha Buchanan, around 1900 from New Zealand Kauri.  The carving was clearly influenced by Maori carvings.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

Raranga is the art of Maori weaving.  Flax was woven to produce clothing and household objects.  Feathers are sometimes inserted into woven items to produce garments such as cloaks.  From this websiteThere is so much more to Maori weaving than simply creating a beautiful work of art or an article of decorative clothing. Polynesian culture is a spiritual one and there is a belief that an artist is a vehicle for the gods. The artist expresses the feelings and thoughts of the gods and the product of the artist’s work is therefore a sacred one. Art is linked and inter-related to all that is sacred and spiritual. The Maori have many symbols and meanings hidden within their art and these are very definite in woven articles.

There are several techniques that have been passed through the ages but raranga is the one that has survived colonisation. It has strong links with both Asian and Pacific Island weaving. The Maori believe that the past is also the future and the present and is an eternal circle. Raranga (or the art of weaving) has been passed down from the ancestors to the people living today and it is a living symbol that has survived for many generations.

The spirit of raranga evokes feelings of spirituality, of togetherness and of unity. The art of weaving is not only sacred but it literally weaves together all the people of the tribes and their ancestors, ensuring that the tribes remain strong and that memories are kept alive.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The items in the photo below came with the following description: Made by Pakeha, these plates, bowls and cups put Maori people and patterns, which are tapu (sacred), on objects made for eating – something deeply offensive to many Maori.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

Similarly, the description accompanying this tea towel reads: The person who donated this tea towel purchased it from a second hand shop to save Harimate from having her face wiped over dishes.  Harimate is a tupuna or ancestor and her image is sacred, as is her moko kauae.  What does it mean when sacred images are used to decorate and sell products?

Much to think about and consider.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The museum also had a highly talented group of artists who put on a performance of traditional songs and dances – incuding the well known haka, or war dance.  As per Wikipedia: The haka (plural haka, in both Māori and English) is a traditional war crywar dance, or challenge in Māori culture.[1] It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.[a] War haka were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition, but haka are also performed to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals, and kapa haka(performing arts) groups are very common in schools.[citation neededNew Zealand sports teams’ practice of performing a haka before their international matches has made the haka more widely known around the world. 

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

We spent hours and hours in the museum.  We definitely recommend it.  After that we headed over to the nearby Holy Trinity Cathedral.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The girls really enjoyed the walking (um in their case running) labyrinth.  The labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. It has a single circuitous path that winds its way into the center. The person walking it uses the same path to return from the center and the entrance then becomes the exit. The path is in full view, which allows a person to be quiet and focus internally. Generally there are three stages to the walk: releasing on the way in, receiving in the center and returning when you follow the return path back out of the labyrinth. Symbolically, and sometimes actually, you are taking back out into the world that which you have received.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The church in the photo above, St Mary’s, is connected to the cathedral, but it used to be a separate church in a different location.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The Mountain Fountain was also moved from a different location.  The angles really complement the facade of the main cathedral seen in the photo below.  The cathedral is a collection of different architectural styles and was built over an extended period of time.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

No idea what was going on with the dilapidated building in the above photo that was on the same grounds directly beside the cathedral!  The building in the photo below is the Bishop Selwyn Chapel, only completed in 2016.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

Unfortunately the cathedral was closed when were visiting – apparently it is extremely beautiful inside.  So we headed off to the Auckland West Coast beaches – via ice-cream, of course.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

We headed to Muriwai.  It not only has amazing black sand beaches, but is home to a gannet colony.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The gannets nest here from August to March.  It was a really impressive sight – one that we could smell before we saw it, actually!  All that guano…

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

From this website: The nests are just centimetres apart. It’s an air traffic controller’s nightmare, but somehow the birds have it under control. Those coming in to land must glide over the squawking raised beaks of their neighbours – so getting it wrong can be painful. These two-and-a-half kilogram birds have a wingspan of two metres, and their mastery of the onshore updrafts is impressive to say the least.  Each pair lays one egg and the parents take turns on the nest. The chicks hatch naked, but within a week they’re covered with fluffy down. As they mature, they grow juvenile feathers and begin to exercise their wings in preparation for the one-shot jump off the cliff.  Once airborne, the young gannets leave the colony and cross the Tasman Sea to Australia. A few years later, surviving birds return to secure a nest site at the colony.

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

The black sands come from volcanic rocks.  The sands have been carried out to sea by the rivers, then have been washed up on to the beaches.  They are actually mined and smelted into steelThe well known black sand beaches sweeping down the west coast of the North Island are the sites of New Zealand’s greatest known reserves of ironsand. Its potential for commercial use was recognised from the early days of European settlement. This black ironsand was formed 2.5 million years ago from rock deposited on the coast by volcanic activity in the Taranaki region. The sand contains mainly ironsand (titanomagnetite) and lime-soda feldspars. Over the centuries, the heavy dark ironsands have been transported by ocean currents along the coast and deposited on beaches, forming dunes of up to 90 metres high. 

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand day 2 Auckland

New Zealand 2018

NZ Holiday day 1 – Auckland

Well hello there everyone!  Sorry that it has been a little time between blog posts.  I had planned to have all garments sewn during 2017 blogged during 2017 – but that just isn’t going to happen!  You know, Christmas, life, and preparing for holidays!

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

As is very obvious from the title of this blog post, we are now in New Zealand! We arrived yesterday after a flight that involved some turbulence (with corresponding nausea and vomiting, especially from the poor teen. It’s almost inevitable nowadays that she will vomit during landing. That doesn’t put her off coming overseas though!) The flight from Melbourne takes less than four hours – around the same as a flight from Melbourne to many other parts of Australia.

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Once we arrived we collected our hire car (only just fitting luggage for four people into the boot – thank goodness for my tetris packing skills) and headed off to our Auckland accommodation. We’re staying at an Air BnB in Lynfield. It’s a beautiful, peaceful location. We’re quickly realising that much of New Zealand is hilly, and that water views abound.

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

There’s a beautiful cliff top walk nearby – just the thing to soak in the air, admire the vegetation and listen to the birds. In our brief time here so far NZ is much like Australia in many ways (and let’s face it, most Australians have lots of Kiwi friends/relatives – the two countries and closely linked) yet there are also differences that become more and more apparent. And after all, don’t we go overseas to appreciate and learn from the differences?

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Some of our more cynical friends laughed at us when we told them our next overseas holiday was NZ. “New Zealand – is that actually overseas”? Too right it is! International flight, passports, different money (fortunately the exchange rate is ever so slightly in our favour), international roaming on our phone, and Woolworths is called Countdown (much to Stella’s great entertainment). We must be overseas! But it’s so easy travelling in a country where everyone speaks English and the road rules are pretty much the same as at home too.

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

As I type this I’m trying to get the family up and moving. There’s a two hour time difference and although it’s nearly 9am here it’s not quite 7am in their minds. We need to adjust!  There’s so much to see and to do!

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Actually, we’re fairly realistic – we know that there is no way we can see and do everything.  There are whole areas we had to cut from our itinerary because it’s just not possible to do this beautiful country complete justice in three and a half weeks.  That’s okay – it leaves more places to explore for our next visit!  In terms of our itinerary, this is how it looks:

  • Auckland – 3 nights
  • Rotorua – 4 nights
  • Te Harato – 2 nights
  • Wellington – 2 nights
  • Nelson – 2 nights
  • Greymouth – 1 night
  • Franz Josef – 2 nights
  • Wanaka – 1 night
  • Queenstown – 2 nights
  • Te Anau – 2 nights
  • Dunedin – 2 nights
  • Christchurch – 2 nights

We will definitely be visiting Hobbiton, Franz Josef Glacier and doing a cruise on Milford Sound.  The rest of what we’re up to is flexible.  There is so much on offer, but we endeavour to pick the most family friendly set of activities for our group (extended winery tours or four hour hikes won’t be happening).  It means minimal (if any) fabric shopping but plenty of smiles from the 10 year old and almost 15 year old.  Sadly Stella’s strong dislike of caves – especially those with water in them – means that Waitomo Caves and the gloworms are probably out of the question.  Sob.

Accommodation wise we’re mixing it up between Air BnBs (including a farm stay) and cabins in holiday parks.  Hopefully this will work out well for us.

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

Dec 29 NZ holiday - Auckland

So, if you’re reading my blog for the sewing – it’s now become a travel blog for the next three and a half weeks!  I know that will keep my Mum and Dad happy – it is great that technology allows us to share what we are up to so easily.

adult's clothing · sewing · tween

Another Style Arc Lacey

The Style Arc designers are clever women.  The Lacey dress is great for me – and it’s great for my teenage daughter!

Style Arc Lacey dress in Girl Charlee knit

I sewed Clare a Lacey dress on the same weekend I sewed mine, and I have to say that I absolutely love it! Clare’s is sewn in a Girl Charlee knit that came to me via Restash. I had to tetris the pieces extra hard to get this dress out of the fabric that I had available, and as a result a couple of them are cut slightly off grain. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to have affected the fit or the hang of the finished dress.

Style Arc Lacey dress in Girl Charlee knit

Clare’s dress is size 4 (mine is size 12). I didn’t make any alterations, and think that it fits her beautifully. I included the side seam pockets in her version – all the better for a teen to keep her mobile phone in.

Style Arc Lacey dress in Girl Charlee knit

Did you notice the necklace Clare is wearing? She made it herself, and it coordinates perfectly with this print!

Style Arc Lacey dress in Girl Charlee knit

This dress has lovely wide facings around the neckline. I used a cream woven rather than the same fabric for a couple of reasons – firstly, there absolutely wasn’t enough of the print for the facings, and secondly I wanted to use something that wouldn’t show through. This dress has positive ease, as you can tell, and it’s designed to be sewn in a woven or stable knit. The woven facing allowed for very neat topstitching, which is mirrored by the topstitched wide sleeve hems and skirt hem.  I also topstitched the vertical bodice seams.  Most construction was done on the overlocker.

Style Arc Lacey dress in Girl Charlee knit

From the Style Arc website: Slip into the fabulous Lacey Knit Dress. It’s easy to make and easy to wear. Lacey will work with either knit or woven fabrics. Sitting on the waist, Lacey has a slightly gathered skirt with side pockets. The interesting bodice has an extended shoulder line that creates a short sleeve that can be worn straight or rolled. The bodice has clever design lines that allow directional stripes or mixed textures. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Knit, jersey, rayon or silk.

lacey-dress-product

I think this could be a strong contender for perfect hot summer dress pattern!  Clare wore this on a 41 degree day and it was cool and comfortable.  And, according to many, this dress looks ‘very Gorman‘.  It’s a winner.

 Style Arc Lacey dress in Girl Charlee knit