Archive for the 'Taste of Kiwi' Category
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Earlier this year hubby and I visited the Marlborough region in the South Island of New Zealand. I took the opportunity to drag hubby to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center. Sir Peter Jackson donated his collection of WW1 planes and memorabilia to the center and they’re displayed in dioramas, which make the exhibits come alive. I loved this museum, and we spent a couple of hours wandering through and taking photos. I believe Weta Workshops made the models, and they’ve done a wonderful job.
This is a selection of photos from the museum. I wasn’t clever enough to take notes of which plane was which, but the scenes looked so real, right down to the mud, snow and tire marks.
After visiting the museum, we drove to Havelock. Hubby has always wanted to dine at The Mussel Pot Cafe and we made a point of having lunch there. The green lip mussels are world renowned and very healthy. I’m not a fan but hubby always enjoys eating a mussel pot.
The scenery was gorgeous as we drove along the coast and back to Picton, the town at the very top of the South Island.
I love visiting the South Island. Álthough I live in the North Island, the South has a special place in my heart.
Don’t forget to enter the draw to win a copy of The Spurned Viscountess
Do you have a favorite place to visit?
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
The fantail or piwakawaka is one of our native birds. This year we’ve seen quite a few in our garden and also while we’ve been walking Bella. They’re tiny birds with a tail that fans out—as their name suggests—and they live on a diet of insects. They like to follow people when they’re walking, which gets a bit creepy. I’d call it stalkerish, but in reality they’re snatching up the insects that are disturbed with each footstep. I guess it’s takeaway for birds.
The fantail has a very distinctive cheet-cheet and the birds never seem to keep still. They’re very difficult to photograph because they’re always in motion.
These photos were taken at Christ Church in Russell.
The Maori people consider it bad luck if a fantail flies inside a building. They say the fantail is a messenger and it’s appearance means death or news of death is imminent.
I had one fly inside the house a few months ago, which didn’t make me very happy. The fantail was hanging around outside for days. I’d hear it and shut the door since the bird seemed determined to fly inside our house. I shooed it back outside (they seem fairly smart and don’t divebomb windows in panic like some birds) and waited for news. Thankfully I didn’t receive any news of death.
The fantail is a cute bird, but I do prefer to see them outdoors!
Have you had birds fly inside your house before?
Monday, October 14th, 2013
Today, the small township of Russell in the Bay of Islands is a sleepy place. Tourists and summer boaties visit the place, but on the day of our visit, we wandered across the street without worrying about traffic. Not so back in the early nineteenth century.
In the 1830s it was wild and full of whalers, seamen, traders, escaped convicts and adventurers. Some sailing captains steered clear of the place because they feared their crews would desert. Russell or Kororareka, as it was also known, was the original capital of New Zealand. Missionaries, who intended to bring religion to the new lands, were horrified by the behavior of drunken men and of the loose women who cavorted with them.
Russell still has New Zealand’s oldest church—Christ Church.
This church came under fire during the Battle of Kororareka in 1845. You can still see the musket holes in the walls of the church.
Pompallier House was the headquarters of the French Catholic mission. This is a National Trust building and very interesting to visit. After the Catholic ministers moved on, the building was used as a tannery and later a private residence. The gardens are lovely.
Russell also has the oldest licensed premise in New Zealand, the Duke of Marlborough. We visited the second oldest pub a few weeks ago at Riverhead.
The Duke of Marlborough overlooks the water and is very peaceful these days. It’s hard to imagine drunken sailors, prostitutes and the revelry that so upset the missionaries, or settlers, soldiers and Maoris in the heat of battle.
If you’re ever down this way, I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful area and the surrounding areas of Paihia and Waitangi.
Friday, October 11th, 2013
Maori carvings tell a story, and we have a form of totem pole, called pou or pouwhenua here in New Zealand. They’re like carved poles and were used by the Maori to mark boundaries.
Mr Munro snapped photos of these pou up at Paihia in the north of the North Island.
I’m not sure what story these pou told, but they were definitely interesting!
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
I think I’ve mentioned Mr. Munro has a new camera. He took these great photos of a tui, one of New Zealand’s native birds. The tui is very cool and is unusual as far as native birds are concerned because it has adapted to the changes in habitat and flourished. It’s not strange to see them flying around city parks or the local neighborhood, especially if there are trees full of blossoms. They feed on nectar and we’ve seen a lot lately, feeding on the spring blossoms.
The tui is a mimic, and they’ve been known to bark like dogs, copy musical instruments such as bagpipes. They have a whole rang of clicks and warbles and whistles. A tui that hangs out in my street has a different “vocabulary” to tuis that might live five miles away.
The tui has a distinctive tuft of white feathers at its throat. Maori legend says that this tuft signifies the mark of a coward. The Maori god Tanemahuta asked one of the birds to go to live on the forest floor to take care of the pests. The bird that volunteered would lose his colorful plumage and his ability to fly. The tui and the other birds who declined all received a punishment. The tui received the white feathers. And the bird that volunteered to live on the forest floor – that was the kiwi, of course.
Are you a bird watcher?
Monday, September 16th, 2013
Mr. Munro and I like to explore our city, and yesterday we did a boat trip from Z Pier in central Auckland, up the Upper Waitemata harbor to the historic pub at Riverhead.The Riverhead was established in 1857 and holds New Zealand’s second oldest liquor licence. Incidentally, we visited the oldest one—the Duke of Marlborough in Russell, Bay of Islands—a couple of weeks ago.
This is me, sitting on the top deck of the Red Boat and waiting to leave on our adventure. Central Auckland and the Sky Tower are in the background.
Our boat traveled under the harbor bridge. Two New Zealand flags were flying on the bridge yesterday. The flags change often and honor different countries. For example on the US Independence Day the US flag will fly along with the New Zealand one.
We traveled in the footsteps of our ancestors who used ferries and boats on the upper harbor as a means of transport to head north. Lots of gorgeous properties lined the harbor and this is one of them. A big lawn to mow!
This is the Red boat. It tied up at the jetty and we climbed up lots of steps to get to the pub. The view was gorgeous from the terrace and lots of people were dining in the restaurant. Mr. Munro and I chose some bar snacks, beer and wine and spent time in the public bar. The people watching was awesome.
Although children and families are welcome, the management like the children to remain under close parental supervision. They had these cute signs everywhere relating to children, and the one below is my favorite.
We had a fun day, although we were tired out when we arrived home. I can’t wait for our next local adventure, whatever that might be.
What is your favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday?
Monday, September 9th, 2013
Like most countries, New Zealand has myths to explain the formation of various lakes and mountains. This is the legend of how Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand was formed.
Renowned beauty Manata lived in Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. She was popular with neighboring men and many of them wanted to take her as their wife. Manata’s father didn’t consider any of the suitors husband material.
One of her suitors was called Matakauri. He loved Manata and she loved him in return.
One day a giant called Matau stole Manata from her home and carried her away into the mountains. Manata’s father told Matakauri that if he could rescue his daughter, he’d approve of a marriage between them.
Matakauri knew that the giant always turned sleepy when the wind blew from the nor’west, and once conditions were right, he set out to rescue his love. When he arrived the giant was sound asleep.
“Come with me,” Matakauri said. “I’ll take you home.”
“The giant has tied me to him with a rope made from the skin of his two-headed dogs. It is impossible to break,” Manata cried.
Matakauri tried to cut it, but to no avail. Manata started weeping and when her tears fell on the rope it dissolved. Freed, the lovers fled to safety.
As promised, the couple married, but Matakauri worried about the giant returning and stealing his new wife. When the wind blew from the nor’west again, he sneaked up to the giant’s home and found the giant curled up and sleeping on a bed of bracken. Matakauri set fire to the bracken and the giant suffocated before he regained consciousness. The giant’s body sank deeper and deeper into the ground until he created an enormous chasm many kilometers long. His entire body was consumed by the flames, except the heart, which kept beating.
Rain began to fall and it flowed into the new chasm. The heat generated by the fiery giant bonfire melted the snow on the nearby mountains. Soon the chasm was full of water and it remains as a lake to this day—a lake shaped like a giant who has drawn up his knees in sleep.
Meanwhile the giant’s heart still beats beneath the surface of the water, sometimes so hard that the waves thunder against the shoreline.
I didn’t realize we had giant myths in New Zealand, and I’ve been enjoying reading through Taniwha, Giants, and Supernatural Creatures by Aw Reed and Ross Calman. Do you have any local giant myths?
Today I’m visiting Lissa Matthews where I’m discussing Maxwell’s, the fictional club in Past Regrets. There’s a giveaway too.
Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It’s big in terms of population (32% of NZers live here) and spreads from Waiwera and Kumeu in the north to Runciman in the south. Auckland is also my home.
Here is a list of Thirteen interesting places to visit in Auckland.
1. Sky Tower – the phallic-like tower dominates the inner city skyline and can be seen for miles. This is an excellent place to get a view of the city and the braver people can bungee jump off for a quick descent. One of the restaurants at the top of the tower is a revolving one, and there are also displays about making the tower.
2. Mt. Eden – this is one of the dormant volcano cones within the city. The 360 view from the summit is gorgeous. From the top you can also look down the steep slopes of the almost perfect crater.
3. The Auckland Memorial Museum – the museum sits within the Auckland Domain. If you’d like to learn about New Zealand and the Maori people, this is the perfect place to start.
4. Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World – building the aquarium was a labor of love for Kelly Tarlton. He purchased old sewage tanks and turned them into an underground aquarium. The large Perspex tubes that you can walk through to look at the fish, and are now common in aquariums worldwide, were first used and designed here. Along with fish you can also see penguins.
5. Rangitoto Island – This is the “youngest” volcano in the Auckland region and it erupted around 600 years ago. Catch a ferry over to the island to explore the lava caves and walk to the summit.
6. Waiheke Island – Beaches, vineyards, walks and relaxation only a thirty-five minute ferry ride from central Auckland.
7. Devonport – a small village that’s a 10 minute ferry ride across the harbor. There is a nice beach, shops, cafes, lots of art galleries, more extinct volcanoes and walking tracks.
8. Waitakere Ranges Regional Park – Get out into the wilderness. Native trees, walking tracks and it’s not far from the central city. See some of our mighty Kauri trees here.
9. Beaches – The city straddles both the west and east coasts. In the west we have beaches with black sand and big breakers. (Tasman sea) On the east we have white sandy beaches and the Pacific Ocean.
10. Viaduct Harbor – This is a waterfront area full of restaurants and bars. You can sit with drinks and a meal and watch all the expensive boats. An excellent place to people watch. The Maritime museum is here too.
11. Coast to Coast walk – This walk is 16 kilometers long and goes from one coast to the other, crossing parks, passing volcano cones and going through the different suburbs.
12. Cornwell Park and One Tree Hill – The park donated by Sir John Logan Campbell for the use of the people of Auckland. Have afternoon tea and climb up to the obelisk at the summit of One Tree Hill. It’s also a working farm and during the spring you get to see all the lambs racing around. Very cute!
13. Go wine-tasting. There are several regions close to the city: Henderson, just north of the city, on Waiheke Island or visit the Villa Maria vineyard in Mangere. (not far from our international airport) Time it right and attend one of the many concerts that are held at the vineyard or just taste some of their wines and eat at their cafe. The cheese platters are good.
If you were to visit Auckland, what would you want to see first?
Monday, July 1st, 2013
In February hubby and I took a cruise from Auckland to Sydney on the Diamond Princess. I love New Zealand. Even though I live here, I’ve done a lot of travel, and my country of birth compares well with most countries.
One of the stops was Akaroa, which these days—since the earthquake at Christchurch—is the main port of call for cruise ships. The previous port of Lyttelton sustained extensive damage.
Akaroa is surrounded by hills and used to be a volcano. One of the walls broke, letting sea water rush in to create the existing harbor.
This photo shows the entrance to the harbor where the sea breached the volcano.
The area was settled by French and many of the streets have French names. It’s a small town—a very charming one. Each summer the population swells since it’s the perfect place for a summer holiday.
While we were there, hubby and I went dolphin watching to see the rare Hector dolphins. They’re a small dolphin and their fins look like Mickey Mouse’s ears.
This is me on board the dolphin boat before leaving the wharf. If anyone visits Akaroa, I totally recommend this company. The owner and his family have been in the area for generations—five, I think he said from memory. He’s very knowledgeable about the area and the fauna.
This little cutie is Murphy who works onboard the Akaroa Dolphin boat. His task is to look for dolphins and he does an excellent job. If you see him run to the side of the boat, follow because there will be dolphins!
Hector’s dolphins are extremely rare and are only found in New Zealand. The dolphins were a bit shy on the day we went out, but we did see a small pod.
This is the main part of the township. There are a few shops, some very nice cafes and restaurants plus the usual amenities such as supermarket, butcher, and church. On the day we visited there was a market at the church and I purchases a really pretty cameo-type pendant.
There is also an excellent fish and chip shop. Guess what we had for lunch?
This is the view from the ship after our day ashore. As you can see, it was beautiful weather and our day was memorable. If you’re ever down this end of the world, do put Akaroa on your must-visit list.
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
This photo was taken in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand at the Sport Fishing Club. They were holding a fishing contest and we watched the entrants bring in their catches for weighing. This is a marlin. Personally, I don’t enjoy fishing and think it’s a cruel sport, but hubby is a keen fisherman and he enjoyed watching the weigh in. I think he had fish envy when he saw this one!
I’m visiting Sharon Buchbinder today and talking about motorcycles in movies and books. I hope to see you there.
Do you enjoy fishing?