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.

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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

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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

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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.

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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.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve

Rotokare Scenic Reserve is a bush and lake reserve in South Taranaki.

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Rotokare Scenic Reserve is a 230 hectare forested hill-country with extensive wetlands, native bush and a 17.8 hectare lake. It is managed by the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust.

The Lake Rotokare Walkway is a 4 km walking track that circles the lake. The first 600 metres feature boardwalks around the wetlands, which include a boardwalk out to a floating viewing pontoon.

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The boardwalk up until the pontoon is wheelchair accessible, and many visitors only walk as far as the pontoon and then return. The track after this can be muddy in winter. It should take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the loop walk.

The reserve is protected by a 8.2 km pest-proof fence. Entry is through a double set of gates. The gate has to close behind before you can open the next gate.

Entry is free but donations to the trust are appreciated.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve is at Sangster Road, 12 km from Eltham, South Taranaki.

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Eltham, Taranaki

Eltham is a small town in South Taranaki.

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Eltham in named after an English village in Greenwich, England. European settlement began in Eltham in the 1870s. The settlement become a town district in 1884.

Similar to much of Taranaki, Eltham has its roots in dairy.  The first pound of butter was made at Eltham in New Zealand’s first commercial butter factory, which opened in 1887. Today cheese is probably the town’s claim to fame.

Eltham is also known for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture. There is a heritage walking trail with information panels dotted around the township explaining the town’s heritage.

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Also in 2009 the town was the location for a film adaptation of Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s 1975 novel Predicament. Many of the building frontages were renovated and repainted at the time.

The are numerous cafes and shops with antiques, arts and crafts, and vintage and retro clothing. Although when I visited on a Friday many of these businesses were closed, a result of COVID possibly.

There was a small market on, the Friday Eltham Market, which is held nine till noon in the TouchPoint carpark (High Street), weather permitting.

Eltham is approximately 50 kilometres south of New Plymouth. State Highway 3 runs through the town.

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