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.

The Topp Twins – an exhibition

The Topp Twins – an exhibition for New Zealand is an exhibition celebrating New Zealand entertainers Lynda and Jools Topp.


Dame Lynda Topp and Dame Jools Topp are a openly lesbian, folk singing, comedy sister duo that have been entertaining New Zealand audiences for over 40 years.

They often perform as their celebrated characters, such as Camp Mother and Camp Leader, typical kiwi blokes Ken and Ken, the Gingham Sisters, Westie girls Raylene and Brenda, bowling ladies Mavis and Lorna, and socialites Prue and Dilly.


Camp Leader and Camp Mother


Ken and Ken


The Gingham Sisters


Raylene and Brenda


Prue and Dilly

The exhibition, which was designed by Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North, explores the Topp Twins early family life, their political activism, their contribution to New Zealand music and entertainment, and how they created their characters.

It includes costumes and memorabilia from the Topp Twins personal collection, interviews and archival footage, and a replica of their touring caravan.

There is also the opportunity for guests to dress up in replica costumes of Camp Mother & Camp Leader, The Gingham Sisters, Raylene & Brenda, Ken & Ken, and Prue & Dilly.

The exhibition, which is on until 22nd September, is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm on the ground floor of the National Library, Corner Molesworth & Aitken St, Wellington.

It is expected to tour other New Zealand venues.







Weta Workshop

Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company in Miramar, Wellington.


Weta Cave is a mini-museum / shop attached to Weta Workshop premises. The best is that it is is free to visit.

The shops sells a wide range range of collectables and merchandise from small items, such as magnets and stationary, to large scale replica’s of props from films Weta has worked on.

The mini-museum includes props from films including The Chronicles of NarniaDistrict 9The Hobbit trilogy, King KongLord of the Rings trilogy, and Meet the Feebles.

A short behind-the-scenes documentary on Weta Workshop screens in the theatre every 30 minutes.


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Weta Cave is the departure point for two ticketed tours – Weta Cave Workshop Tour and Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds a Go. During the peak tourist season it is probably best to purchase your tickets online. I have read of tours being sold out when people have visited.

I did a combo tour but they also offer an evening tour with a three-course dinner and a Saturday hands-on experience with a Weta Workshop crew member. Check out the Weta Workshops’s Tours page for more information.

The Weta Workshop Tour is a 45 minute guided tour of Weta Workshop.

The tour moves through various rooms learning about the different prop and costume making processes. It is very interactive, there is opportunities to handle various materials and there is one area set up with various stations where you can touch the various products Weta uses.

Photographs are not allowed to be taken except for the last part of the tour where a Weta Workshop technician is working on a stage area.

When I visited a technician was working on miniatures for a private commission. Weta was designing a miniature village with approximately 50 models for a client’s pet guinea pigs to live in.


The Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds a Go is a 45 minute guided tour of the miniatures shooting stages for the television series Thunderbirds a Go.

A van will transport guests from Weta Cave to Pukeko Pictures studios, which is located around the corner on Park Road.

The tour covers the history of the original 1960s Thunderbirds television series, the concept art for the new series, and a look at some of the household objects used to make the miniatures (or bigatures as they are called at Weta).

The highlight is the scale models of Tracy Island, Creighton Ward Manor, and the Thunderbird Hangers used for filming.

As the same with the Weta Workshop Tour photographs are only allowed to be taken at the end. There is a Thunderbirds a Go set that has been especially built for the tour.

While at Pukeko Pictures look across the road to Park Road Post, the post production facility owned by Peter Jackson’s production company Wingnut Films.







As I mentioned Weta Cave, which includes the mini-museum, gift shop and short documentary is free to visit. There is plenty to see even if you don’t go on a tour.

Weta Cave is located on the corner of Weka Street and Camperdown Road, Miramar, Wellington. It is open 7 days (except Christmas Day) from 9am to 5:30pm.

Gallipoli: The scale of our war

Gallipoli: The scale of our war is an exhibition on at Te Papa focused on the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War.


The exhibition is told through real-life stories of eight New Zealanders – seven soldiers and one nurse. Each person tells a part of the eight month Gallipoli campaign.

The highlight of the exhibition are the large scale models of the eight featured New Zealanders. The models designed by Weta Workshop are 2.4 times human size. These figures took 24,000 hours to create, and they each weigh between 90kg and 150kg.

There is a short six-part series online, which is explores the behind the scenes process of creating this exhibition.

The exhibition, which cost $8 million to develop, also features other models, dioramas, interactive displays, and artefacts, such as uniforms, weapons, and personal diaries.

Gallipoli: the scale of our war is located on level 2 of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington. Exhibition is open daily 10am – 6pm until April 2019 and is free to visit.






The Great War Exhibition

The Great War Exhibition in Wellington commemorates the role played by New Zealand in the First World War.


The exhibition is housed in the historic Dominion Museum building above Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. The National Dominion Museum building opened in 1936 and housed the National Museum, the National Art Gallery, and the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. In 1972 the Dominion Museum was renamed the National Museum. The National Museum now known as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is now located on the waterfront.

Filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson has created this exhibition, which explores the story of the First World War.

The main exhibition is the Grand Hall, which covers the period from pre-1914 until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Visitors will enter the exhibition via a pre-war Belgium street. After this we meet Will, a soldier and we follow his journey. The exhibition features dioramas, large-scale props, historical photographs, authentic artefacts and replicas, including a 10 tonne tank and a 11 tonne gun.











The second exhibition is the ANZ Room – Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story in Colour. This exhibition focuses on Gallipoli campaign. A highlight is the collection of black and white photographs, which have been colourised and a one hundred square metre diorama, featuring over 5,000 hand-painted figurines depicting the capture on Chunuk Bair on August 8th 1915.




There are also temporary exhibitions when I visited there was an exhibition on women’s involvement in war, which has now closed. Other past exhibitions included topics, such as Passchendaele, the Middle-East, and conscientious objectors.

A new sensory experience Quinn’s Post Trench Experience has opened since I visited.

There are 45 minute guided tours of the Grand Hall between 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Guided tours are $25 for adults and children are $5. Otherwise general admission is $15 (children under 16 are free). There separate charges for the Trench Experiences, or a combo ticket option available.

I definitely recommend the guided tour and then going back through the Grand Hall at your leisure. I spent just under three hours exploring the exhibition.

The Great War Exhibition is open daily from 9am to 6pm until November 2018 at Dominion Museum Building in Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is New Zealand’s national place of remembrance located in Wellington.


Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was created in the grounds of the existing National War Memorial to acknowledge the centenary of the First World War Gallipoli landings. It opened in 2015 ahead of the Anzac Day commemorations.

The National War Memorial was proposed by the Government in 1919. A competition was held in 1929 for the design of War Memorial, which was won by architectural firm Gummer and Ford.

The centrepiece of the War Memorial is a 51 metre high art-deco carillon tower, which was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1932. It was designed as a sister monument to the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Canada. The Carillon features 49 bells, which were made in England. The monument is constructed from New Zealand stone.

Located at the base of the Carillon tower is the Hall of Memories, a commemorative chapel, which opened on 5 April 1964.

In front of the Carillon is the Tomb of Unknown Warrior. In 2004, the remains of an unknown soldier were exhumed from the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery and moved to the National War Memorial. He is one of the more than 1500 New Zealanders killed on the Somme.

At 5pm each night in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is the Last Post ceremony. The ceremony has been conducted every evening since Anzac Day 2015 and will until 11 November 2018.

The park, which opened in 2015, features several memorials to New Zealand’s allies. Opposite the carillon tower is the Australian Memorial, 15 red sandstone columns, gifted by the Australian Government.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is off Buckle Street, in Wellington.








Northern Explorer to Wellington

The Northern Explorer is a long distance scenic tourist train that runs from Auckland to Wellington.

Northern Explorer at Hamilton

Northern Explorer at Hamilton

The train travels 681 kilometres (423 miles) from Auckland to Wellington via the North Island Main Trunk.

The Northern Explorer departs on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:50 am from Britomart Transport Centre and Papakura at 8:40 am. The train stops at Hamilton, Otorohanga, National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu before a scheduled arrival in Wellington at 6:25 pm that evening.

If departing Britomart passengers check in at the Kiwi Rail Scenic Counter at the ground (street) level of Britomart Transport Centre. The train normally departs platform 4 at Britomart. After boarding passes are issued passengers can check their luggage in with staff at the rear of the train.

Check in at the Kiwi Rail Scenic counter, Britomart Transport Centre

Check in at the Kiwi Rail Scenic counter, Britomart Transport Centre

The train has 3 passenger cars A, B, D. The C car is a café car serving meals, snacks and beverages. KiwiRail Scenic Journeys currently serves prepackaged meals from catering company Wishbone. Staff can heat up meals. The meals are reasonably priced but as it is a full day trip it would be advisable for passengers to bring some of their own food, particularly if travelling with children.

Speaking of children the café also sells activity packs that include playing cards, colouring-in, origami and other activities to keep them occupied and entertained.

The first car is an open viewing car, offering the best opportunity for photos and a breath of fresh air.


Cafe car, Northern Explorer

Cafe car, Northern Explorer

View from outdoor viewing car

View from outdoor viewing car

There is an excellent automatic onboard commentary, which plays at certain points of the journey. Headphones, which plug into a seat jack are provided. The commentary is provided in English and Mandarin.

The views offered on the Northern Explorer are a plenty, including green lush farmland, bush and native forest, the mighty Waikato River, small picturesque country towns, the National Park and its snow capped mountains, and rocky coasts.

An engineering marvel is the Raurimu Spiral, near National Park, that was built in 1898. The Spiral allows the train to climb the 132 metre height difference between the Whanganui River and the Volcanic Plateau. The train travels 6.8 kilometres in a spiral, a distance that would only be 2 kilometres long if travelled in a straight line.

View of Waikato River, just past the township of Taupiri

View of Waikato River, just past the township of Taupiri

National Park

National Park

South Rangitikei Viaduct

South Rangitikei Viaduct

Sun setting as the train approaches Palmerston North

Sun setting as the train approaches Palmerston North

Wellington Railway Station

Wellington Railway Station

The train returns from Wellington on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Departure from Wellington is 7:55 am; arrival time in Auckland 6:50 pm.

The Northern Explorer is an excellent way to see this country at a slower and more relaxed pace. The train trip from Auckland to Wellington is longer and more expensive than other forms of transport but the journey is the attraction, and one well worth making.


Disclaimer: My employer paid for my travel on the Northern Explorer. Neither my employer or KiwiRail Scenic Journeys are affiliated with this blog post. Opinions are my own.