Edit Blog Post
Published: August 2nd 2010
Random sculpture celebrating the success of the Weta Workshop.
Having had a successful day at the embassy yesterday, I was free to enjoy today however I pleased. As is often the case in Wellington, it was a very windy day so I didn't really fancy spending too much time outdoors. The solution? Spend the day at Te Papa - the national museum of New Zealand!
It was around 10am when I said my goodbyes to one of the Steve's who had stayed home from work due to illness. I stepped out into the cool breeze and made my back back to central Wellington on foot. On the way, I passed a big tripod sculpture that had been erected to commemorate the success of Weta Workshop, the special effects company who worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Further down the road I spied the zebra-striped Wellywood Hostel building where Glynn and I had spent a miserable 2 weeks on our round the world trip. I'm sure it had a different name back then but can't for the life of me remember what it was. Nevermind.
In the CBD, I walked along Cuba Street and was surprised to find hardly any of the shops or cafes open. I
Not my favourite place. So glad I didn't have to stay there again!
had been hoping to enjoy a nice breakfast out of the wind but my plan was foiled. I walked on towards the harbour and the unusual statues and sculptures adorning the waterfront, few of which had changed since my last visit 4 years ago. The wind buffeted me around but the sun broke through the thick clouds every now and again, warming my face and taking the edge off the cool air. The area was virtually deserted and I enjoyed a few moments of solitude before making my way inside the Te Papa museum.
The first level I ventured into was all about natural history and this was where I found the exhibit I was most excited to see - The Colossal Squid! I remember that not long after we moved to New Zealand, Te Papa was selected to be involved in the autopsy, examination and display of the world's only intact colossal squid. Here it was before me, encased in a long table-height case, floating eerily in a pale brown liquid. It was easily 4 metres in length and 2 metres wide and made of pinkish flesh that in places looked to be decomposing. What fascinated me the
Windy skies and choppy seas.
most though was the tentacles. Long, sucker-covered arms lay lazily in the syrupy fluid but closer inspection revealed evil looking hooks and claws protruding from various angles. I would not want to get into a fight with one of these, for sure! In separate display cases, the squid's beak, eyes and eggs could be seen, presumably all having been removed during the autopsy. It's incredible to think that these creatures exist in the deepest darkest depths of the ocean and yet this is only the second one to ever have been captured. It is also the only one on display anywhere in the world!
Elsewhere in the natural history section, I learned about the Earth's fault-lines running through New Zealand and how earthquakes and volcanoes have shaped the country I now call home. There was a cool little shack you could go into that simulated a strong earthquake and a big screen showing video footage of New Zealand's most recent big volcanic eruption at Mount Ruapehu in 1996 (now a thriving North Island ski resort!). Then I got the fright of my life. Walking around the corner towards the wildlife displays, I was greeted by a couple of very
One of the nicer sculptures on the waterfront.
life-like dinosaurs. You may recall that I'm terrified of dinosaurs and I wasn't sure how I was going to stop my legs from trembling long enough to get past them. Luckily, a big group of schoolkids walked in and I took my chance to escape. After all, the young kids would be much tastier to a dinosaur than an old lady like me, surely?!
On the next level up, the rooms were filled with technological wizardry, much of which I didn't get to play with thanks to the large group of schoolkids that evidently hadn't been eaten by dinosaurs. I did stop in a room with a huge illuminated map of New Zealand on the floor. When standing on different sections of the map, the walls around would come alive with images, writing and video footage of things relating to that geograohical area. For example, stand on the city of Napier and photos of the devastating earthquake of 1931 pop up. Stand on Rotorua and images of Maori settlers are displayed alongside pictures of the geothermal landscape that the city is famous for. It was very cool indeed.
I spent a long time on the next level which
Old & New
Old beams and new buildings on the waterfront.
was all about the people's history of New Zealand, from the first Maori arrivals 600 years ago to stories by modern day refugees. I particularly enjoyed learning what life was like for the first European settlers to come to New Zealand circa 1830. There were the horrific sea voyages, the difficulties in dealing with the local Maori populations on arrival and the lawlessness and discord that led to the need for the Treaty of Waitangi. I was also interested to learn about the continued troubles and disagreements faced by both the Maori and Pakeha (Europeans) since the Treaty came into being.
Incredibly, by the time I had wandered around the remaining exhibition halls, sculpture galleries and displays, I had been in the museum for 4 hours. It was now 3pm but my flight back to Auckland wasn't until 6pm. I didn't really know what else to do with myself so picked up my bag and coat,caught the airport bus back the terminal building and waited for my flight. It was a bumpy take off owing to the continued blustery weather so I was especially pleased to land safe and sound in my home city again.
Tot: 2.294s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 21; qc: 84; dbt: 0.0677s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.5mb