Waitangi Day at Ōhinemutu, Rotorua

Waitangi Day is a national day (public holiday) in New Zealand.

The day marks the anniversary of initial signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6th 1840. The Treaty is New Zealand’s founding document, which was signed between representatives for the British Crown and a number of Māori Chiefs.

Waitangi Day was first officially commemorated in 1934 and became a public holiday in 1974. The day has over the years been the focus of protest concerning treaty injustices.

Rotorua’s official Waitangi Day celebrations were held at Ōhinemutu, a living Māori village located on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The village, which was the original settlement of Rotorua, is 10 minutes walk from downtown Rotorua.

The event called For The Love of People had performances showcasing many different cultures, food and health stalls, public talks, guided tours, Māori and Indian cooking lessons, visual art displays and demonstrations, such as tattooing, carving and weaving.

TSB Festival of Lights

The TSB Festival of Lights is an annual summer light held at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.

The festival is New Zealand’s longest-running light show, which has been running since 1993.

The event runs for six weeks over summer. The lights are on from 8.30pm to 11pm. A siren sounds at 10:45pm to notify visitors to vacate park before the lights are turned off.

The 2020-21 festival closes 31 January 2021. The main entrance to Pukekura Park is 10 Fillis Street, New Plymouth.

The Crescent Playground and Lookout, Wellington

The Crescent Playground in the Wellington suburb of Roseneath on the north-eastern slope of Mount Victoria provides stunning views of the city and harbour.

I had arrived in Wellington early before most attractions and businesses had opened so I went for a Sunday morning stroll along Oriental Parade around Wellington harbour.

At one point I crossed the road and walked up the path for the Mount Victoria Southern Walkway. But rather than following the walkway towards Newtown I walked up to the Crescent Play Area for views of the city and harbour.

It is also possible to access the playground at 18 The Crescent (a street in Roseneath). There is some street parking and few off street parking spaces right at the top of the slide. Children can enter the playground via the slide.

Toi Art at Te Papa

Toi Art is an immersive art gallery space at the The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The web of time (Chiharu Shiota)

The art gallery space that covers two floors of the museum opened in 2018 and it has long-term and short-term installations.

One of the highlights at the the level 4 entrance is Chiharu Shiota’s The web of time. Shiota is a Japanese-born Berlin-based artist. Her design represents a night sky covered with constellations of numbers.

The carefully woven web tunnel that visitors walk through is two-storey high and made from 3,750 balls of black wool.

Turangaewaewae: Art of New Zealand is a long-term exhibition that covers five galleries and explores New Zealand identity and cross-cultural exchange through art from Te Papa’s national art collection.

Featured throughout these galleries are works by prominent artist Colin McCahon (1919-1987), who is credited with introducing modernism to New Zealand.

Janet Lilo’s giant three-dimensional profile page explores how social media allows us to shape our identities online. The installation was developed over 10 years and features thousands of images and videos that Lilo collected from social media sites Bebo, Facebooks, Myspace, and YouTube.

Top16 (Janet Lilo)

Another long-term exhibition is Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa, which explores abstract art from New Zealand and the Pacific through colour, shape and patterns.

Following on from this there is Tiffany Singh’s Indra’s bow & Total internal reflection, a light installation where visitors can press a button to choose the colour of the room based on their mood.

When I visited there was also a temporary exhibition Modern Living: Design in 1950s New Zealand. This exhibition is based on a 1952 exhibition ‘Art and Design’. This exhibition is on until 26 April 2021.

Toi Art located on levels 4 and 5 of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington. Te Papa is open daily 10am – 6pm and is free to visit.

WOW Up Close at Te Papa – World of Wearable Art

World of Wearable Art – Up Close is a temporary exhibition on at The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The first World of WearableArt (WOW) show took place in Nelson, New Zealand in 1987. Today the annual WOW Awards are held in Wellington and attract entrants from over 40 countries.

The exhibition features 38 wearable art pieces from designers from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States. 18 of the pieces are from New Zealand designers.

Tickets are $22.50 for adults and $7.50 for children (3-15 years). There are family and concession tickets available.

The exhibition is on level 4 at Te Papa, and is open everyday from 10am to 6pm until 14 February 2021.

QT Wellington

QT Wellington in a boutique hotel on Wellington’s waterfront located opposite The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The hotel building was originally located on the site where Te Papa is. In 1993 it was due for demolition to make way for the New Zealand’s National Museum. Former city councillor and businessman Chris Parkin relocated the concrete building 180 metres down and across the road. Parkin was named Wellingtonian of the Year for his efforts.

Parkin later expanded the hotel into the adjacent buildings and the hotel housed his extensive art collection operating as the Museum Art Hotel.

Photo of QT Wellington taken from Te Papa on wet Wellington day

The Museum Art Hotel was sold to Australian company Amalgamated Holdings in 2015 and became QT Wellington. The hotel underwent a $12 million renovation and rebranding.

As of last year Parkin was still living at the hotel in an eight floor apartment. Parkin’s art collection is still leased to QT. Although that lease is due to end this year and Parkin has plans to house his collection in a gallery space in a new building development.

I stayed in an Executive Harbourview One Bedroom Apartment. The apartment had a small gully kitchen, separate bedroom and living area, and bathroom with rain shower and deep bathtub.

They also have executive studio and two bedroom apartments. The apartments are located towards the back of the building and have separate lift access. The hotel rooms, which include deluxe and harbourview rooms are located at the front of the hotel and have access from main lobby.

There are two restaurants, French-inspired Hippopotamus and Asian infusion Hot Sauce. There is also the Lobby Lounge. I didn’t eat at either of the restaurants. Hippopotamus is only currently open for breakfast.

Even if one does not stay at the QT it is well worth popping into the hotel lobby to admire the artwork.

QT Wellington is at 90 Cable Street, Wellington.

Cordis Auckland by Langham

Cordis Auckland by Langham, is a 5-star hotel in downtown Auckland.

Although this was my first time staying at the Cordis I have visited before. Easter last year I had Easter Lunch at Eight Restaurant. At Eight Restaurant patrons can choose dishes from eight kitchen stations. Also in 2013 following the Coca Cola Christmas in the Park concert I stopped at then Langham to check out their Gingerbread Village.

I booked an Executive Room for two nights prior to Christmas. The room was clean and comfortable but in comparison to other inner city 5 star hotels the room felt a bit dated.

Executive Room guests receive access to Cordis Club Lounge on Level 10. Privileges including complimentary daily breakfast, afternoon tea treats, and evening drinks and canapés.

On the first afternoon I had afternoon tea and on the second day I went to the evening drinks and canapés. The service in the Club Lounge is efficient and pleasant.

Club Lounge guests also receive access to the heated rooftop pool and spa pool, saunas, and herbal steam room at Chaun Spa. I did not use these facilities though.

Cordis Auckland by Langham is at 83 Symonds Street, Auckland Central.

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is a luxury 5 star hotel located overlooking the Viaduct Harbour in downtown Auckland.

0001

This trip to Auckland was to catch up with a friend and see Auckland Theatre Company’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

In June I booked our tickets and a room at the Sofitel, as it was only 400 metres from the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

I was unsure if the production would go ahead after Auckland had a community outbreak of Covid-19 in August, which saw the city move to level 3 lockdown status.

Although Auckland had moved down to level 2 in September Auckland Theatre Company made the decision to cancel the production. It was not financially viable for them to put on the production with social distancing requirements.

Hedwig-Cancelled

20201114_132111

Although for a long time it was possible that I would not be staying at the Sofitel anyway as in July the hotel went into liquidation.

The hotel was promoted as reopening in Spring, but it wasn’t until early October that it was announced that it was reopening October 19th, after a makeover.

When I lived and worked in downtown Auckland I use to often walk around the waterfront and Viaduct Harbour and would see the Sofitel with its water features and lions at the entrance.

My room was a suite on the 4th floor, which provided views on the Marina. The room was 52sqm and had a King Size Bed, 48″ LED TV with Freeview , Sky Digital and free in house movies.

The marble bathroom had a deep soaking bath and separate shower.

125217348_10157327521715810_8109921506242387523_n

124641534_10157327521610810_4583607696851340746_n

124860097_10157327521670810_2869369519947460048_n

The room included access to the executive lounge – Club Millésime, which is is on the 2nd floor (street level). They serve afternoon tea between 2pm and 4pm and in the evening they serve hor d’oeuvres, wines and cocktails.

My friend and I had afternoon tea but were out during evening drinks. To finish the evening we had a non-alcoholic cocktail at the Sabrage Champagne Bar, which is open from 3pm till late.

The next morning I had breakfast at La Marée by Marc de Passorio. I had the sweet crepes.

The breakfast was included with Club Millésime access.

There is also French Press Cafe, a French style dockside cafe but I did not eat there.

Also there is heated 20 metre lap pool and small gym, and a communal library in the lobby.

The staff at the Sofitel Viaduct provide efficient service while being warm and welcoming. My experience from other upmarket hotels is that service can often be efficient but cold.  It is the little details that make the experience – the welcome drink in reception, the macrons and cake left by the guest manager in my room, the evening turndown service.

Sofitel is at 21 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland Central.

Waipahihi Botanical Reserve

Waipahihi Botanical Reserve is a 35 hectare botanical reserve in Taupo.

It is also known as the Waipahihi Botanical Gardens and sometimes referred to as the Taupo Botanical Gardens.

It is managed by volunteers. Volunteer begun work on the Waipahihi Reserve on October 1st 1966.

The gardens provide views on the Lake Taupo and Mt. Tauhara.

The garden is opened daily until dusk. Entry is free but donations are appreciated.

Waipahihi Reserve is located at the top of Shepherd Road, Taupo.

Fun Ho! National Toy Museum

The Fun Ho! National Toy Museum is a toy museum in Inglewood, Taranaki.

IMG_20200703_150317

The museum displays the popular New Zealand made Fun-Ho! toys that were produced between 1935-1982.

Harold (Jack) Underwood began making toys from his Wellington basement in the 1930s. His first toys were made from lead. This was not very healthy and he changed to aluminium around 1940.

Jack later moved to Taranaki and opened a factory in Inglewood.

By the mid 1970s, over a million Fun Ho! toys were sold each year. In the late 1970s import restrictions were lifted allowing cheaper imported toys. Sadly this lead to toy production ceasing in 1982 and the factory closed in 1987.

Barry Young, who had worked for Jack for about 30 years had a big collection of Fun Ho! toys, and when the factory closed he took the rest of the collection.

In the old factory Barry opened the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum. The museum later moved to its current site in town, where it also operates as the Inglewood Visitor Information Centre (look for the fire engine on the roof – a replica Model No 105 Large Fire Engine)

IMG_20200703_145905

The museum has about 3000 Fun Ho! toys as well as many other New Zealand made toys. Today reproductions are made onsite in the workshop. If you are lucky the toymaker may be firing up the furnace when you visit. They use the original moulding plates – including ones from the 1940s.

Yes they sell reproduction toys in the shop and repair and restore them too.

The Fun Ho! National Toy Museum and Inglewood Info Centre is located at 25 Rata Street, Inglewood. Inglewood is 16 kilometres southeast of New Plymouth.

IMG_20200703_150714

IMG_20200703_150725

IMG_20200703_150741

IMG_20200703_150542

IMG_20200703_150048

IMG_20200703_150056

IMG_20200703_150104