Illuminate – No Man’s Land

As part of Anzac Weekend commemorations, Auckland Museum screened composer John Psathas‘ No Man’s Land onto the Northern Facade of the Museum.

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Anzac Day, which is held on April 25th each year is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that recognises all New Zealanders and Australians who have served during wars, conflict and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Day originally honoured those who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) and fought at Gallipoli during World War I.

Psathas’ project features 120 musicians from over 20 countries and brings together musicians descended from opposing forces of World War I and reunites them in musical solidarity on the sites where their grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought a century ago.

No Man’s Land screened as part of the New Zealand Festival of Arts in March earlier this year.

Click here to learn more about the project.

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From Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th April, a special 20-minute version of the film was projected onto the Northern Facade of the Museum. It played as loop from 6:30pm through to 10pm.

Also viewable from the Auckland Museum, is the Sky Tower, which was lit up red to commemorate Anzac Day. A 13 metre red poppy was displayed on the south-east side of the tower.

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Auckland turns 175

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This weekend was Auckland’s 175th Anniversary. So on Sunday I headed along to the waterfront to check out all the action.

Lower Queen Street outside Britomart Transport Centre marked the start of a pedestrian friendly zone. Where buses normally departed people lounged in the sun on deckchairs and bean bags.

Quay Street was closed off to traffic between Lower Albert and Commerce Streets and large 7m by 3.6m billboards with historic black and white photographs of Auckland’s past lined the street. Parked between these giant photo billboards where classic vintage cars and modern BMWs.

The entrance to Queens Wharf was marked by a giant floral welcoming arch, which was modeled after the ones created to celebrate visits by royalty and admiral ships.

Photo billboard depicting the arch and decorations on Lower Queen St in 1908

Photo billboard depicting the arch and decorations on Lower Queen St in 1908

Welcome arch, Queens Wharf

Welcome arch, Queens Wharf

On Queens Wharf volunteers from Howick Historic Village offered horse and carriage rides. Also on display was the 18m-long Te Kotuiti waka from Ngati Paoa.

Shed 10 housed my favourite – ‘A Story of Auckland’ a multimedia show. After walking up the dark stairs visitors were first treated to 17 metre screen, which displayed a panorama of Auckland in 1840 morphing into Auckland today.

Next was Stories from Tāmaki Makaurau, in which live performers accompanied by musicians playing traditional Māori instruments told the myths and legends of Tāmaki Makaurau. The performance ended with a five minute animated film of Māori legends.

Last on this floor was wall of suitcases with a digital projection showing Auckland’s population growth from 1840 to 2015.

A Story of Auckland

A Story of Auckland

Screen and stage actress Elizabeth Hawthorne portrays Elizabeth Yates in Portrait Gallery

Screen and stage actress Elizabeth Hawthorne portrays Elizabeth Yates in Portrait Gallery

Downstairs was the Portrait Gallery in which portraits of 13 key early Aucklanders morphed into films of modern actors delivering in character monologues.

‘A Story of Auckland’ finished with a walk past a series of Kiwi living rooms from 1940 to today. Archival news clips from each time period were displayed on television sets in each.

In The Cloud there was a food and craft market showcasing Auckland’s diverse multicultural. There were also games.

Berthed at the end of Queens Wharf was the Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Otago, which was open to the public.

HMSNZ Otago

HMNZS Otago

Also on over the weekend was the ASB Auckland Seafood Festival on Halsey Wharf, Wynard Quarter and the 15th Annual Auckland International Buskers Festival. Nine street performers rotated around five outdoor performance venues Princes Wharf, Lower Queen, Queens Wharf, Eastern Viaduct, Karanga Plaza (Wynyard Quarter).

Street performer Bendy Em

Street performer Bendy Em

Port of Auckland opened up Captains Cook Wharf to the public and hosted SeePort’ a family event, which included free boat and bus rides to see port operations up close. There were also displays from the Royal New Zealand Navy, Scouts New Zealand, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and New Zealand Customs.

On Sunday afternoon Harvard War Bird flew over the harbour before an late afternoon concert kicked off at 5:30pm.

Harvard birds over the harbour

Harvard birds over the harbour

The concert held onboard the deck of the HMNZS Otago navy ship was hosted by Mikey Havoc. The concert included performances by the Royal New Zealand Navy Band, the Modern Māori QuartetMotor City Family Funk, Tami Neilson, and Annie Crummer with her father Will Crummer and the Rarotongans.

The Royal New Zealand Navy Band

The Royal New Zealand Navy Band

Motor City Family Funk

Motor City Family Funk

The Modern Maori Quartet

The Modern Maori Quartet

The night was finished with an eight minute fireworks display over the Sky Tower and from three barges located 300m off Queens Wharf at 9.30pm.

One year of blogging

“As much as I love international travel I think it’s important (and cheaper) to get out there and explore one’s own backyard. So I’m starting this blog to encourage myself to get out there and do more things on my days off. So join me as I begin my journey to see what this great country has to offer…”

I wrote these words exactly one year ago today – January 16th 2014.

Call it a New Years Resolution or just a goal. Last year I decided that I wanted to do more with my days off work and get out of the house. So I created this travel blog to encourage and document my adventures around my home country of Aotearoa New Zealand.

My first was a day trip to Hobbiton – the location for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. It was a great start and was definitely one of my favourite outings from last year.

At Hobbiton - January 17th 2014

At Hobbiton – January 17th 2014

Despite living in Auckland for 6 years I am embarrassed to admit I had never been to places like the Auckland Art Gallery, Bastion Point and the Botanical Gardens. This blog gave me a reason to go and cross them off my list.

Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, Bastion Point

Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, Bastion Point

I also had a reason to revisit places like Devonport, Takapuna, Birkenhead, Orewa, Auckland Zoo, MOTAT, Auckland War Memorial Museum and Wintergardens, and the SKY Tower.

When I had 2 or 3 days off work I tried to get out of Auckland. During the year I visited Coromandel township, Waitomo Caves, Hamilton and Wellington.

Boat ride through Mangawhitikau Glowworm Cave - Waitomo

Boat ride through Mangawhitikau Glowworm Cave – Waitomo

I could post when I liked, there was no pressure. Some nice people read my posts. I helped a couple of people along the way like the lady who wanted to know the gate closing hours for Michael Joseph Savage Memorial / Bastion Point.

I don’t know where this blog will go this year or where it will take me. My only plan is to do more than I did last year and enjoy myself.

Thanks for reading. Have a fantastic and prosperous 2015!

New Year Fireworks - SKY Tower

New Year Fireworks – SKY Tower

SKYCITY

SKYCITY Auckland is a casino, entertainment and events centre located at the base of the Sky Tower, on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets.

Sky Tower

Sky Tower

As well as the Sky Tower, the SKYCITY complex includes two hotels, eight dedicated bars, fourteen restaurants, a casino, a 700 seat theatre, and a convention centre. Also on the Hobson Street side is a bus terminal where Intercity and Great Sights tour buses arrive and depart. This is where I met my friend Tash who had come up from Hamilton on the bus for Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

After checking in at her hotel, Rendezvous Grand Hotel, we had a 1:30pm lunch reservation at Fortuna Buffet Restaurant at SKYCITY.

Fortuna offers:

  • breakfast daily from 6:30am – 10am (adults $22.90, children 4-9 years $9.90, 10-14 years $12.90)
  • lunch Monday to Friday from 12pm – 2:30pm (adults $22.90, children 4-9 years $9.90, 10-14 years $12.90), Saturday to Sunday from 11:30am – 2:30pm (adults $24.90, children 4-9 years $10.90, 10-14 years $13.90)
  • dinner Sunday to Thursday from 5:30pm – 9:30pm (adults $22.90, children 4-9 years $12.90, 10-14 years $15.90), Friday to Saturday from 5:30pm – late (adults $34.90, children 4-9 years $14.90, 10-14 years $19.90

The buffet lunch included two options of soup with a wide selection of breads, cold salad and seafood bar, a carvery station with a selection of hot meats with ham, beef and chicken options.

Tea and coffee was included in the price. For an additional $5 each we purchased a large Coca-Cola glass with unlimited refills.

I like my desserts so I’m usually a pretty tough judge when it comes to dessert bars and unfortunately Fortuna’s selection did not live up to my expectations.

But overall the price is good value for what you get. You have an hour and half from arrival to dine.

After lunch we went up the Sky Tower. At 328 metres tall, it is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand. Construction began in 1994 and it officially opened on August 3rd 1997. The Sky Tower also operates as a telecommunication tower providing television and radio transmission frequencies.

The Sky Tower is open 365 days of the year, weather permitting. From May to September it is open daily from 9am to 10pm. From October to April it is open 8:30am to 10:30pm Sunday to Thursday, and 8:30am to 11:30pm Friday and Saturday. Last tickets are sold 30 minutes prior to closing.

Single Entry is $28 adult, child (6-14 years) $11. There are also annual passes available. Admission includes entry to 186 metre Main Observation Level, 182 metre Sky Lounge cafe and bar, and 220 metre Sky Deck.

The Main Observation Level and the Sky Deck offer views up to 80 kilometres in every direction.

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The Sky Tower offers views up to 80 kms in every direction

The Sky Tower offers views up to 80 kms in every direction

The Main Observation Level has glass floor panels, which you can stand on. Not to worry the glass 38mm thick and is strong as the concrete floor.

Glass floor panels are 38mm thick

Glass floor panels are 38mm thick

On the Sky Deck you can lean back on the glass windows.

For an extra $2 you can upgrade for multiple visits in one day but I recommend visiting just before sunset so you get both sun and night.

Sun sets on Auckland City

Sun sets on Auckland City

Auckland City at night

Auckland City at night

At 190 metres, between the Main Observation Deck and Sky Deck is Orbit – New Zealand’s only 360-degree revolving restaurant. They offer lunch (11:30am – 2:15pm, Monday to Friday; 11am to 2:30pm Saturday & Sunday), Dinner (Daily 5:30pm – 4:30pm) and a High Tea on weekends (2:30pm to 4:30pm).

Orbit diners also receive complimentary entry to the Sky Tower 45 minutes prior to/and or after dining. They require a minimum spend of $30 per person for lunch and $40 per person for dinner.

I have been to Orbit twice, once for a joint birthday celebration for my 21st and my sister’s 15th, and again last year for my dad’s 60th.

At Orbit restaurant celebrating 21st and sister's 15th

Flashback: At Orbit restaurant celebrating 21st and sister’s 15th

After visiting the Main Observation Level and Sky Deck, Tash and I went down to the Sky Lounge cafe and bar and finished the evening with a beverage looking out over the city.

Hot chocolate at the Sky Lounge

Hot chocolate in the Sky Lounge