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

Archive for 'Wellington'

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

Weta Workshop in Wellywood!

Anyone who is interested in movie special effects will have heard about the award-winning Weta Studios. They’ve been involved with many movies and TV shows including the Lord of the Rings movies, King Kong, Avatar to mention a few and more recently Thunderbirds.

Weta Studios was started in 1987 by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger. They initially worked out of their Wellington apartment.

It’s free to visit their shop and view many collectibles plus watch a movie detailing the origins and different things they work on at Weta. It’s also possible to do a tour, but since many of the things they work on are proprietary, only a small portion of the actual studio is accessible.

Troll

On arrival at the shop, you’re greeted by these huge trolls. I’m 5’ 9” so that should give you an idea of how big they are.

Gollum

Gollum – this model was just amazing. The face looks so real as does the fish he’s holding.

Weta Studios

The entrance to the studio, which is guarded by a huge genie!

Trolls

Me braving one of the other trolls. I’m so glad they weren’t real because they were so lifelike. You could see right up their noses…

The movie we were shown contained glimpses of special effects and indicated what some of the talented people work on each day. It must be such a fun job. The tasks ranged from making armor and working with leather to making swords, designing computer graphics and so much more.

I have to admit I have a fondness for action movies, and I always enjoy the special effects such as explosions and the fight scenes, especially those where the actors wear armor. I watched The Mummy movies again a few weeks ago. All those creepy mummies and the insects, the sand storms and plane flights. Good fun!

What is your favorite movie when it comes to special effects?

B is for Beehive

My post today comes to you from the Beehive in Wellington. This is the affectionate name we New Zealanders call our parliament buildings because of its shape.

Beehive

The Beehive is the round building and the one on the right is Parliament House.

Parliament Buildings

Flag

Beehive Info:

1. The building was designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence.

2. It’s in Wellington, our capital city.

3. The building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

4. It’s ten stories high.

5. You can wander around the grounds at will. There are statues of past prime ministers and beautiful gardens.

6. You can also do a free tour of the interior (after a security check) and sometimes you’ll get to see and chat with John Key, our prime minister. This, according to our guide on the tour I took.

Beehive 2

In Quest of the Tuatara

We’ve visited Wellington several times and Zealandia before.(formerly known as the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary) Last time our visit was during the winter and since we both really wanted to see a tuatara, we decided to try our luck again.

Zealandia is an inland island – sanctuary for some of our rarest native birds. The entire place is surrounded by a tall, pest-proof fence that keeps out wild cats, stoats, weasels, possums, rats and other introduced pests that decimate our native bird population.

The site was previously a water reservoir for the city, but since Wellington has grown it became unviable. There was also the problem of an earthquake hitting. The area was replanted with native trees and turned into a sanctuary.

Old Resevior

This is the old reservoir.

Native Duck

Native New Zealand duck – the scaup. It’s the smallest of our native ducks. The scaup is a diving duck and disappears for long moments under the water.

Takahe

This is a takahe, one of our flightless birds. It was thought to be extinct after 1898 but was rediscovered in 1948. There are two takahe at Zealandia – a pair – although they are infertile so are not adding to the low population. They eat tussocks, grass, shoots and insects.

Kakariki

This is the kakariki parakeet, one of NZ’s natives. They have become endangered due to loss of their natural habitat.

The day of our visit was warm and sunny – the perfect weather to tempt the tuataras out of their burrows. Tuatara are rare reptiles that are found only in New Zealand. I’d never seen one before since they mostly live on off shore islands and at a few sanctuaries.

We saw their burrows and finally, much to our excitement we spotted a tuatara!

Tuatara in Disguise

Tuatara

I still get excited whenever I think about seeing them. We watched them for ages, not that they do much except sit there soaking in the heat from the sun. It was a real privilege to see such a rare creature.

Is there any animal or bird that you would like to see in person?

Water Lillies

I’ve always liked water lillies, which is probably why I’m a fan of Claude Monet. I adore his water lily paintings. A few years ago hubby and I purchased a single water lily. It’s never grown very well until last year when it had two flowers. A few months ago hubby repotted the plant, dividing it into three. Since then the plant has flourished, growing heaps of leaves. We’re now waiting for the flowers to pop up. Maybe we’ll even beat our record of two this year.

Water lillies are actually Nymphaeaceae and they grow in fresh water in both temperate and tropical climes. The plants grow in dirt, but the leaves and flowers float on the surface of the water. They come in lots of different colors, the flowers lasting only a few days before dying.

I took the photos below at the Wellington Botanic earlier this year.

Water Lily

Water Lily

Water Lily

Do you like water lillies?

I Spy With My Little Eye…

Camera Critters

I took this photo at Wellington Zoo a few weeks ago. I can stand and watch the merkats for hours. They’re so cute and feisty. Seeing them standing upright and on guard never fails to make me smile.

Photobucket

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Camera Critters

Photobucket

I took this shot of a sun bear at Wellington Zoo. They’re called sun bears because of the creamy round sun shape on their upper chest. (You can’t see it in this shot) They come from the Southern Asia region.

Visit Camera Critters to see more animal photos.

Don’t Go Wine Tasting On An Empty Stomach

After our memorable Cook Strait crossing, we didn’t have much time to have lunch. We grabbed a Subway sandwich each and ate them on the way to our first stop on the wine tour.

There were thirteen of us, and we managed to cover a lot of the world with passengers from New Zealand, Australia, England, Norway and the USA. On the South Island side of the strait it was fine and sunny, so my brother-in-law got the weather right. The Marlborough region sees a lot of sunshine—usually grabbing the highest amount each year—so it’s excellent for growing grapes.

Our first stop was at Drylands, one of the larger vineyards with ties to Australia and the USA. We started with a welcome glass of sparkling wine and gradually worked our way through the list. I like wine, so I sampled most of them—both red and white. Most enjoyable.

The second stop was at Framingham. After another eight or so samples here, and I started to feel the wine. This tour was unlike the samplings I’d done before. Obviously it pays to go on a tour rather than turn up with just hubby. The people behind the counter were most generous with their samples, and we purchased a bottle of Framingham Marlborough Classic Riesling here. For those of you who enjoy wine this is a classic New Zealand, off-dry style wine with rich fruit and a juicy acidity. It has complex varietal characters of lemon citrus, mandarin and stone fruit with a long mineral finish. It’s best served with Asian style cuisine and seafood. Sounds good, right? I intend to have some tonight with my dinner.

Photobucket

Our next stop was Nautilus Estate where Mr. Munro and I purchased a carton of wine. Nautilus is shipping it home for us. Our quiet bus was growing progressively noisier, and there was much more chatter and laughter by this stage. I was pacing myself, skipping the odd tasting, and I made inroads on their oil/bread samples.

Our final stop was Hunter’s. Hunters is an older vineyard and one of the first in New Zealand to take their wines overseas and scoop gold medals at the wine shows. Mr. Hunter died tragically early in a car accident (age 38) and his wife took over the running of the vineyard. Her name is Jane Hunter and she has received many wine awards, including the inaugural award for women winemakers, world wide. She also has an OBE.

I loved the Hunter wines. In fact there was only one I disliked. Yep, I admit it—I was decidedly tiddly when I left, but I wasn’t alone. We drove to our last stop, the Makana Chocolate Boutique, with the music blaring really loud Beetles and Queen classic hits.

Photobucket

So, I leave you with a tip—if you intend to hit a wine trail, it’s a good idea to have a hearty meal first. Your head will thank you for it!

Have you been wine tasting before? Do you like wine, and if so, which one is your favorite?

Rock ‘n Roll, Baby!

During our recent trip to Wellington, we decided we’d like to catch the Interislander ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton. We wanted to see a few of the sights instead of hanging around the city for the entire weekend. The weather wasn’t too good with lots of wind and rain, but after considering the weather forecast, and ringing my brother-in-law who is a weather guru, we decided to risk it and book the ferry plus a Marlborough wine tour.

The cancellation of the first ferry and the subsequent delay while they loaded extra cars and passengers on our ferry should have been a warning. But no. Mr. Munro and I happily boarded, found a good seat and settled in with a latte each. We were delayed about an hour before the ferry set off. The first part of the journey as we left the harbour was okay, but the moment we entered the open sea, it was all on.

Photobucket

Rock ‘n roll, baby.

Photobucket

The ferry went up, slammed down, tossed a little from side to side. The ferry was a big one, but the waves were crashing over the bow. And to think I’d wondered about all the white paper bags on each table in the cafe. Within minutes, passengers were grabbing bags and throwing up. I have to admit the crew were really good, whisking bags around, going around and offering aid and small chips of ice to passengers. At no time did the ferry smell like vomit, which was pretty amazing. Luckily, both Mr. Munro and I are good sailors with cast iron stomachs. We watched everyone else, and when the bars reopened when we re-entered calmer waters, we had another coffee and enjoyed the passing scenery as we entered the Marlborough Sounds.

Cook Strait separates the North and South Islands. It is about 22km wide and is known for its wild waters.

Are you a good traveller? Do you get seasick? Airsick? Other forms of motion sickness?

Road Trip: Auckland to Wellington

the van I haven’t done the trip from Auckland to Wellington for a long time. Yep, I was excited about the prospect of a trip South. We picked up the van we had to drive to Wellington the night before. It’s a little van with vinyl seats and not much leg room. Mr. Munro complained the van didn’t like going fast. He had trouble coaxing it past 100km per hour, which is our speed limit. After little sleep (we had a phone call at 2.00am – highly uncivilized if you ask me!!) we hit the road at six-thirty.

It turned out that the van wasn’t too bad for leg space and a towel stopped the problem of sticking to the vinyl seats. The van loved going up hills, which was a bonus, but on the down side it also loved to guzzle gas. We had to stop three times to refill during the eight hour drive.

The weather was beautiful, without a cloud in the sky. The iPod worked well and we drove with the windows down and the music blaring – well as much as Mr. Munro lets the music blare. He’s a fuddy-duddy that way!

We stopped at Lake Taupo, which is the biggest lake in New Zealand, and supposedly the site of the largest volcanic reaction the world has ever seen. You’ve probably heard me mention Taupo before. I like it very much and have some wonderful memories of family holidays spent there as a teenager. I pointed out the street where my mother received a parking ticket and where we went to the movies. The lake was flat calm and the trio of mountains were visible across the water. That’s unusual so we took photos.

Lake Taupo

We drove down the Desert Road and managed to take some great shots of the mountains. The Desert Road is mostly tussock, but parts of it are very sandy. During winter this stretch of road is often closed due to snow and ice. The NZ army do a lot of their training here before troops are sent overseas. The terrain is certainly challenging, and while it’s very pretty, I wouldn’t want to be there in the middle of winter.

Mt Ruapehu

Ngauruhoe from the Desert Road

The rest of the drive was through farm land before we hit the coast and the sea. The pohutukawa trees seem to flower later down here. The trees were ablaze with scarlet flowers. Pohutukawa flowers always remind me of Christmas. We drove into the central city of Wellington and found our serviced apartment without any problem. It’s very central – just a brief walk away from most of the tourist spots. We can even see a sliver of the waterfront from our balcony.

View from our apartment

I’ve done a lot of travelling, and I think a person would have to go a long way to see better scenery. New Zealand really is a pretty country, not that I’m biased or anything.

Do you enjoy road trips? When and where did you take your last road trip?



  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >