Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for 'New Zealand'

Old St Pauls, Wellington, New Zealand #travel

Nestled in the heart of the commercial center of Wellington, not far from New Zealand’s parliament buildings, is an old church with a lot of history.

St Paul's, Wellington

Old St Paul’s is plain from the outside, a white building and dark spire, set in a large section and surrounded by giant pohutukawa trees. I wasn’t expecting much but the interior stole my breath. During my first visit, I stood inside the entrance, breathed in the rich, fragrant scent of the old wood from which the church is constructed, and fell in love with the place. It’s both peaceful and beautiful with the glowing colors of the aged timber. The ceiling curves above, looking like a timber rib cage and the light coming through the stained glass windows throws jewel-like patterns on the interior. Everyone speaks in hushed tones and the place feels special.

Old St Pauls, Wellington

 

Old St Paul's Wellington

Frederick Thatcher designed the church. He was also the first vicar and remained from 1861 – 1864. The style is gothic, and according to experts, it’s one of the finest examples of timber Gothic architecture in the world. The timbers used in the construction include rimu, totara, matai and kauri, some of New Zealand’s finest native wood. The pews are also made from timber and perfect to take a seat and soak in the atmosphere.

Old St Paul's, Wellington

Wander around on your own or listen to one of the guides who will point out all the highlights. The stained glass windows are famous and were added as memorials to several prominent members of the Wellington community. Originally most of the windows were plain frosted glass. The current bells and organ are also new additions, but the baptismal font is an original, made in England from white stone with a carved oak canopy.

Old St Pauls, Wellington

Funerals of former Prime Ministers were held here. The Maori land wars, which took place during the 1860s are remembered in memorials, as is the First World war. The relationship between American marines and the locals during the Second World war is also recognized.

A new church, also named St. Pauls, was built in 1964 to cater to larger numbers. Thankfully, locals fought to keep the old church, because it truly is beautiful and unique now that public buildings are no longer made from timber.

Old St Paul’s may not be a parish church now, but it’s still consecrated and a venue for weddings, funerals, christenings and other cultural events such as concerts. The building is maintained by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The Facts

Opening hours:
Daily 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day, Good Friday, and for short periods during private functions.

Admission fee:
Entry is free. Hourly guided tours of Old St Paul’s: $5 per person.
Private group bookings (8 or more) $3 per person.
School groups: tours $3 per student.
Experience Old St Paul’s education programme: $8 per student.

Location:
34 Mulgrave Street
Wellington 6011
tel: + 64 4 473 6722
email: oldstpauls@historic.org.nz

Dinosaur of the Insect World #travel #NewZealand

The weta – it’s a large and primitive insect, native to New Zealand. The reason I chose to write about wetas today is so more people know what they are. When I used a weta reference in my book Janaya, my editor didn’t know what I was talking about and I had to rewrite slightly to describe a weta as a prehistoric cricket-like insect.

Tree Weta, New Zealand

There are five broad groups of weta:

1. Tree weta
2. Ground weta
3. Cave weta
4. Giant weta
5. Tusked weta

Wetas are nocturnal and live in a variety of habitats including grassland, scrub land, forests and caves. They live under stones and in rotten logs or in pre-formed burrows in trees.

They are mainly herbivores in the wild but are known to eat other insects. They can bite but are not poisonous. Species of weta are still being discovered and several are endangered. In the wild, they were traditionally eaten by the tuatara (a prehistoric reptile native to NZ) but these days many are destroyed by rats, cats and dogs and of course, humans encroaching on their habitat.

The weta sheds its exoskeleton when moulting.

At 18 months the male weta selects a female and they spend time together in the male’s territory. (Romance in the insect world!)

At around two years old, the female will lay 100 – 300 eggs. The parents die before the weta eggs hatch 3 – 5 months later.

The Department of Conservation in New Zealand is currently involved in weta breeding programs and translocation to safe sites such as protected islands like Tiritiri Matangi and Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. The weta respond well to a captive breeding program.

The following video is of a giant weta.

I’ve never seen a giant weta but have personal experience with both tree and cave wetas. We often find tree wetas in our garden and will return them to live in peace. They can nip and look creepy but I don’t mind them.

My experience with cave wetas is a bit more spooky. When I was a kid, my girlfriend lived on a farm with limestone caves. It was a favorite pastime to visit the caves and wander through them with a candle and maybe a torch to search for stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms. When I think about our cave visits now, I can see how dangerous it was, but for us it was an adventure – an hour or two of wandering through pristine caves. One day we discovered a new tunnel and were all set to charge into it to explore. I happened to shine the torch over the ceiling and it was covered with huge cave wetas! I let out a screech and dropped the torch, and we all decided to explore another part of the cave. I also took to checking my gumboots carefully and shaking vigorously before I put my feet in them. This lasted for a few weeks until the initial horror passed. I’ve never been bitten by a weta, but I’m always careful not to get too close either. I can appreciate them from a distance.

How are you with insects? Do you like them or hate them with a passion? Do you have any insect stories to tell? What do you think of New Zealand’s weta?

Tirau: Corrugated Captial #newzealand #travel

Tirau is a small New Zealand town. It’s pronounced Tee-rau

1. Tirau, originally referred to a hill three miles southwest of the village, is covered with cabbage trees where Maori trapped the keruru (wood pigeon). It was first settled by the Ngati Raukawa, although various tribes won the area in battle before Europeans purchased the surrounding district in 1868.

2. Tirau has always been a rest stop for travellers with the Oxford Royal Hotel operating as a staging post between Rotorua, Cambridge, Lichfield and later Taupo.

3. The benefits of its central location continue today. In fact Kate and Lane from PLAYING TO WIN stopped here for a break during their drive to Taupo. These days the town is unique for its corrugated iron sculptures.

4. A shop disguised as a sheep.

Iron Sheep

5. A dog.

Dog

6. Poppies

Poppies

7. A book shop.

Books

8. The toy shop.

Toy Shop

9. Me standing outside the tourist center.

Tourist Center

10. Gourmet Food shop.

Fine Swine Cafe

11. A garage.

Service Station and Garage
12. A dairy.

Dairy

13. A gift shop with a pukeko (bird).

Pukeko

Antique Shop

Tirau is a fun place to visit. It’s great for the keen photographer and is the perfect place to take a break from driving. If you’re interested in antique shops, this will be your happy place. I highly recommend a visit.

Middlemarch Shifters: Sutton Salt Lake #travel #newzealand

Several of the books in my Middlemarch Shifters series mention Sutton Salt Lake. In My Feline Protector, a villain terrorizes the heroine during a visit to the lake.

Our visit was a peaceful one.

Sutton Salt Lake is an inland lake. It is an unusual lake because, as the name suggests, the water is  salty rather than fresh. During the summer the water evaporates and salt forms on the surface. These photos were taken in late November and the lake was almost completely dry, despite it not being the height of our New Zealand summer. (that’s around late Jan, early Feb). It was also very smelly!

Middlemarch Sutton Salt Lake

Sutton Salt Lake 2

Sutton Salt Lake

My Feline Protector – One of the books in the Middlemarch Shifters that mentions Sutton Salt Lake.

ShelleyMunro_MyFelineProtector_200pxA glimpse across a crowded room…

Feline shapeshifter Gerard Drummond catches sight of a human woman with innocent eyes and lush curves and he’s toast. He desperately wants to meet her, and with his best friend Henry as his wingman, he’s soon chatting with the gorgeous London Allbright and her sister Jenny.

Despite swearing off men, the sexy Middlemarch local charms London, and she agrees to take part in a zombie run, even though she isn’t athletic in the least. The longer she spends with Gerard, the more she’s tempted, but no…she’s heading back to England and has no time for romance.

The obstacles aren’t only on the zombie run course. Gerard can’t let London leave, and now it seems Henry is hitting it off with London’s sister. There must be a way…

A shocking murder changes everything and throws their lives into turmoil. Gerard and London, Henry and Jenny. Nothing will ever be the same as danger stalks London, and Gerard struggles to keep his English beauty safe.

Warning: Contains a sexy feline male who knows exactly who he wants and isn’t afraid to chase her, to woo her, to protect and love her until she decides to stop running.

Read an excerpt here

Clandestine Lovers is out! #romance #series #contemporary

Clandestine Lovers

Feel like escaping your day? Check out Clandestine Lovers, book three in the Friendship Chronicles series for an armchair trip to Auckland and small country town New Zealand.

Think finding the perfect lover is difficult?

Ask Susan Webb—-she knows it is. Lonely, tired of dull routine and dud men who only think with their lower brains, she takes a calculated risk to shake up her lackluster life.

Now she’s set to take part in a reality dating show. Her objective: to find a good, honest man who’s up for enjoying lots of sexy fun on the road to love. Failure is not an option.

One look at his older brother’s Farmer Seeks a Wife candidate, and Tyler Penrith is intrigued. Prim and proper on the surface, she has a secret smile in her eyes and an exotic dancer sway to her step. And calamity follows her around like a tame dragon.

Susan might be in his brother’s age group, but Tyler’s not about to let Nolan waltz off with the first woman to snare his attention in ages.

As the show’s ratings go through the roof, Susan finds herself falling for the wrong man—and her simple plan for happiness on the brink of falling apart.

Warning: Contains sibling rivalry, lots of sneaking around, sexy times in the great outdoors, a bright blue vibrator, and a reality show that’s giving everyone something to talk about.

Purchase Clandestine Lovers at Amazon or get it free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

Baldwin Street, World’s Steepest Street #travel

BaldwinStreet

BaldwinStreetView

Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand is recognized by Guinness World Records as the steepest street in the world. It is 350 meters in length. The lower end of the street is covered in asphalt while the steepest and top end of the street is concrete instead of asphalt. During hot summer days the road used to melt and run down the hill. Concrete proved a better solution. It is a residential street and a mecca for tourists. The locals must get tired of tourists wandering across the street!

Baldwin Street and its steepness came about by accident. The street plan for Dunedin was developed in London, England with no regard for the terrain or consultation with those living in the area. The world’s steepest street is the result.

Each year a local confectionary company drops round candies at the top of the hill, racing them to the bottom as a fundraising event. A girl died after attempting to race down in a wheelie bin. Other stunts have been attempted over the years, some resulting in arrests.

With limited time, I walked halfway up. That was enough for me. Smile

Goat Island Marine Reserve, New Zealand #travel

20070710232034_goat island 026

The Goat Island Marine Reserve is a popular destination with locals, especially during the summer months. It’s north of Auckland and is the closest place for divers and snorkelers to experience marine life. The reserve, which is 518 hectares in size, was created in 1975 and officially opened in 1977. New Zealanders are keen on fishing and stocks were becoming depleted but the numbers have bounced back due to the reserve. Now, big schools of snapper swim close to the shore. The day I visited, the snapper swam around our legs. There are dozens of other species, including my favorites, the pretty blue maumau.

For those who don’t wish to scuba or snorkel, there is a glass bottom boat that takes tourists out and around part of the island.

The island, known as Goat Island, was called this because sailors left goats there as a source of food. The goats have long gone and the island is now the domain of birds.

If you’re in the area, take a picnic lunch, pack your togs and go for the day, or better yet, stop at the Matakana Farmers’ market for some lunch supplies.

A visit to Goat Island Marine Reserve is a fun day out.

Once in a Blue Moon #freebook #IARTG #paranormal

When I wrote the first book in my Dragon Investigators series, the subject of the moon came up—at least for the hero. The moon plays a part in the hero’s life that creates huge problems. A blue moon doubles the stress. It seemed obvious, then, for me to use the moon in the title, and I named my book BLUE MOON DRAGON.

So what exactly is a blue moon?

There are several definitions.

1. When the moon is blue in color, which is very rare, it is often due to dust or smoke in the sky.

2. If there are two full moons in a particular month, this is called a blue moon. The next one is due on Jan 31 2018.

3. Each season has three full moons, but when there is an additional fourth moon, the third of the full moons is known as a blue moon.

Definition 2 is the one that most people refer to when they speak of a blue moon.

Source: EarthSky

Blue Moon Dragon, the first book in my Dragon Investigators is currently free. Grab your copy at any time from 5th to 9th June at Amazon.

ShelleyMunro_BlueMoonDragon_500

Grab your FREE copy here.

The Giant’s House, Akaroa, New Zealand #travel

Some more photos from the Giant’s house, a photographers’ dream.

Giants House

Giant's House Piano

Hubby playing the piano out in the garden. It was French cafe music!

A view of the Gian'ts House Garden

Giant's House Topiary

Vegetables and flowers combine with sculpture to create a fun vista.

Isola Bella

Flowers at Giant's House

If you’re ever in this part of the world, I highly recommend a visit to the Giant’s House.

The Giant’s House, Akaroa, New Zealand #travel

The Giant’s House was build in 1880 and is made of native totara and kauri timber. The house was originally owned by a bank manager. Artist and sculptor Josie Martin purchased the house and has used the gardens as her artist canvas and created a wonderland—a fun place for both children and adults to explore. It is also a bed and breakfast.

Here are a few photos of the gardens and sculptors.

GiantsHouse

GiantsHouse2

GiantsHouseFlowers

The sculptures are whimsical and colorful and highlighted by the different plantings.  I’ll be back later in the week to post more photos of the Giant’s house. It’s a photographer’s dream!