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Sunday, April 13, 2014

13 April - City and Sea

13 April 2014

First things first. We felt two 6.2 on the Richter scale earthquakes today!

We had a better (and quieter) sleep tonight than last night. Better, but still not good. There’s a lot to be said for having your own room… But at least we’re not sharing a bed – at least not until we get to Ann and Duncan’s.

We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. $19 for a Continental Breakfast! Each!! We made sure we got our money’s worth. I had two Weetbix, fresh pineapple slices, pears, yoghurt with apricot topping, two freshly cooked pancakes with maple syrup, apple juice, cup of peppermint green tea, and a piece of toast with margarine and apricot jam. (Just as well. We didn’t have lunch until about 3.30)

The pancake maker was very Thunderbirds. You pushed the OKAY button, waited a couple of minutes, and then your floral shaped pancakes rolled out of end and onto a plate. They tasted similar to McDonalds pancakes, but the maple syrup was nicer.

Then we went back up to our room to clean our teeth, grab our things and head out. We bought our 3-in-one coats to brave the snow at Arthur’s Pass last year (enough said about that) and one month ago I was saying that I was taking mine and D.C. was saying that it was too warm for them. Then she decided that she may as well. Because its autumn and it wasn’t too cold inside, but the weather forecast predicted rain, we decided to discard the inner warmth-but-not-rain-protection coat and just wear the outer “raincoat”. It wasn’t raining when we left, but we figured that would be all the protection we’d need.

I told you how the Travelodge was a warren to work out how to get to reception from the carpark. It’s nearly as bad to try to escape the place onto Lambton Quay. You take the lift down to the first floor… Now, these lifts aren’t quite as bad as the ones at the Mecure in Auckland, that is it’s not quite like Thunderbird Three taking off, more like a jet plane. But yesterday after signing in we summonsed one, I wheeled my case in, and it attempted to shut the door before D.C. even had a chance to move. We’ve learnt that these are not lifts to muck around with.

Anyway, this morning we managed to negotiate the lifts down to the first floor, and found our way outside (there was only one way that we could go, so it wasn’t too bad), chatted with another couple as we walked down the stairs that make up part of Plimmers Steps (there’s a statue of Mr Plimmer and his dog Fritz at the bottom) and then found our way to the Wellington i-SITE/Information Centre (I don’t have this one programmed into Word.) We found out how to get to the various places and then decided that it was cold enough that we returned to our rooms, reaffixed the inner jacket into our coats, and grabbed our hats!!

You could tell who the Wellingtonians were. They were the ones in shorts and t-shirts.

A slight exaggeration.

Only slight.

One thing that I meant to say on the train trip yesterday, was that how the leaves are only just starting to change colour and are barely starting to fall. The further south we got they were just bare.
We were trying to work out what this was. I thought it looked like a crayfish. D.C. thought it looked like (of all things) the Mole!

So, what is the first thing I take a photo of in Wellington? A public toilet.

Anyway, once we were rugged up, we ventured out again. We went down to the waterfront to get our bearings and wandered along to find where you got the ferry to Day’s Bay. Once that was ascertained, and the timetable perused, we went in search of the Wellington Museum of City and Sea. This used to be the Maritime Museum and we haven’t been there in years. We went in at about 10.30 and came out, hungry, about 3.00pm.

The museum is housed in the old Bond Store where cargo was brought through and which was later converted into the Harbour Board offices. The boardroom was a very grand, imposing chamber to enter after the rather dark, low-ceilinged rooms of the museum.

The museum had some very interesting displays. One, telling about the Maori mythology of the landscape used video projected onto glass to give the impression of tiny people telling you the story. Joanna Paul was the narrator (remember her from Wildtrack? I think she moved over to Maori Television) and the way that it was filmed and displayed she was no taller than a kerosene lamp and some bottles. But what was remarkable was that as she (and Maui in one of the tales) walked up and down behind the lamp, glass bottles, Sextant, and bits of wood, her image behaved as you would have expected. That is she disappeared behind the solid objects, could be seen through the “holes” in objects made up of various bits (like the Sextant) and could be seen through the glass bottles – albeit with a green tinge as she would have if it had been real. At one point a wooden hatch in the ceiling flew open (slid back, actually) and the Taniwha’s eye peered in. The two tales were of the two Taniwha who lived in a lake until one of them rammed his way out and escaped, creating Wellington Harbour. The other story was of Maui taking fire from his grandmother – the Fire Goddess.

Not a great photo because of the low light, but you can see Joanna Paul's ghostly figure

Naturally for a museum dedicated to the seas around Wellington, there is a comparatively large area devoted to the sinking of the Wahine on the 10th of April 1968. We watched a film about that event, which sadly tried to add to the atmosphere and drama of the old black and white photos by moving the camera about as if you were on the waves. It certainly would have added to the drama if the cinematography had made someone seasick!
It must have been terrifying to be in those little boats in the most ferocious storm recorded in New Zealand
But it was a tragedy that took 51 lives on the day and the few items that were displayed were very poignant. It’s something that has special meaning to us in that D.C. was in the maternity hospital in Wanganui during Cyclone Giselle. As she wrote today there was an aerial flapping about like a windscreen washer outside the window. A nurse pulled the curtains and when they were opened again the aerial was gone.

And that’s let the cat out of the bag!
D.C. lifting a 50kg weight using a pulley system

One of the displays of the Bond Store. The cat's waiting for the rat. The rat is the blur. I waited for ages for that picture...

When we left at 3.00pm we hunted down something to eat. Over the road from Plimmer Steps is the old BNZ building. Fortunately instead of pulling it down, they’ve done it up into an arcade so we went in in the hope of finding some lunch. There was a Starbucks (Overrated. We’ve been to one once before. Sorry, twice – first and last time) and another cafĂ© called Smiths the Grocers (?). In there we had a hot chocolate each and I had a satay chicken filo $12.20. Very nice but there was nothing of the five plus a day in it. The wall was interesting. They had old newspaper pages from July 1969 – any guesses what was special about that date*? – as well as the first bomb dropped on Japan, the Boer War, Kennedy’s assassination, and Prince Charles. His article was on the other page from the one with the articles about the moon landing*.

Then we went on a hunt for St James Theatre, so that we’d know where to go on Thursday evening. It’s miles away!

Okay, another exaggeration, but we’re not that keen on wandering back to the hotel in the dark. Especially if it’s starting to rain like it was when we were walking.

D.C.’s been looking for an e-reader light (she left hers at Rangitoto and theorised that it could stay there and she could get another), so we were trying various shops. We went into the Sony shop and they had some that would fit her e-reader, if we knew which model it was, but it was back in the hotel so we’ll have to take it back later. I’ve been looking for a new MP3 player for some time, so I asked what they had (you’d expect the offspring of the Sony Walkman to be good) and they had one (Pink!) that was $123, but she let me have for the $99.95 of the cheaper models.

Talk about your impulse purchases.

We also went into the Willis St New World to buy some Pams Cranberry and Apple Instant Oat sachets and some Bell Berry Green Tea (cheaper than another breakfast on floor six)

Coming back we tried to find a shortcut and found ourselves close to Te Papa. As it was free, the time was 5.20pm and it didn’t close until 6.00pm, we thought we’d go in there (into the dry) and see an exhibit. The first we found, which I was very happy about, was Awesome Forces. This is the one about volcanoes and seismic activities… such as earthquakes…

See where I’m heading.

We didn’t have time for a proper look, but if there’s been no change since two years ago the only mention of the Christchurch Earthquake of 2011 is that the exhibit might be distressing for those who’d been caught up in it. The main earthquake focused on was the 1986 6.2 Edgecombe Earthquake. So we went for two “rides” in the simulator – which is a one roomed house with a TV displaying “interviews” and footage standing on hydraulic jacks, which shake you all about. The shaking’s not as violent as the representation of Mt Tarawera’s eruption in the Rotorua Museum, but it would have given you a hang of a fright if you’d had to live through the real thing.

We’ll go back later for other fill in times.

Neither of us were hungry by 6.00pm, but D.C. didn’t want to waste my mobile WiFi so she suggested that we find a McDonalds. We found one (where the sole person on checkout duty was running around like a one armed paperhanger) and bought a hot chocolate for her and a chicken noodle salad for me. I have to say here that the salad was pretty good value. It was a meal size, with plenty of carrots, tomatoes, onion and lettuce of course, as well as tasty chicken and noodles. With the hot choc it came to $13 in total and I’d have to say that it tasted better than you would expect from a McDonalds. We checked our emails (once we got our tablets talking to the WiFi) and then came back to the hotel and had a cup of tea.

Off to work out this Sony Walkman.

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