Month: March 2011

Te Papa – our place – and floor talks!

Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand, here in our capital city Wellington, has regular  floor talks that are well worth attending – many of them are free. Make sure you check the website to see what’s on while you’re in the city.

The most recent one I attended was to view (well actually, to view for the third time) the exhibition of Brian Brake‘s photography.

Brian Brake (1927–1988) was New Zealand’s best known photographer from the 1960s to the 1980s. He first made his name as an international photojournalist, photographing for picture magazines such as Life, National Geographic and Paris Match.

His most famous work was on the monsoon rains in India in 1960. This essay yielded the widely reproduced Monsoon girl, an image of a young woman feeling with pleasure the first rains on her face.”

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The longest natural sandbar in the world

At the Top-of-the-South is Farewell Spit in Golden Bay – the longest natural sandbar in the world – I join a day trip to see it.

Originally called Te Onetahua, meaning ‘heaped up sand’ – the long sandbar stretches 35 km and Paddy Gillooly, manager of The Original Farewell Spit Safari, has a family history with it as old as Collingwood.  He prides himself that his hand-picked guides ‘know what they are talking about – they give exact information and must constantly read the beach, watching for quicksand.’

Called Murderers Bay by Abel Tasman in 1642; James Cook called it Massacre Bay; early settlers called it Coal Bay, before re-naming it Golden Bay in 1850s when alluvial gold was discovered. Read more I’ve written here

I watch as the lighthouse grows smaller

Kaikoura is top of most tourists NZ bucket list

In this ‘blog4NZ’ let me remind you of a north Canterbury place that is well worth visiting while you’re in the Christchurch area: Kaikoura is top of most tourists bucket list for New Zealand, and these two places are well worth spending a night, or more,  at.

Despite being called a marine Serengeti, as well as whales, dolphins and sea birds, there are many places to visit and things to do on land too. I can recommend the luxury hike up to the valley of the gods then stay at Shearwater Lodge

A boutique eco-hike, the guides tailor the day to the abilities of the walkers, stopping for photos, drinks and rests as needed. We watched and heard many birds, had superb views of the North Island and the Pacific Ocean, saw feral goats and deer, and, as well as stopping to admire and learn about various native trees. Our guide Lance said ‘this is the most picturesque place in Kaikoura’.

Shearwater Lodge nestles in the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range

Another place to stay in Kaikoura is in a tree house: surrounded by deer, an olive grove, and nestled between the Kaikoura Seaward Mountains and the famed Mangamaunu Bay, Hapuku Lodge has it all.

Kaikoura, number one of New Zealand’s eco-marine activities has many attractions – best of all, it’s only two hours north of Christchurch, I’ve stayed here many times in tents, motels, hostels, hotels, and caravans, as well as these two wonderful places.

Tekapo via Christchurch International Airport

Despite the inner-city  part of NZ’s 2nd-largest city being off-limits now, the Christchurch international Airport is of course still open and many hotels are continuing to give their usual high level of service. So, the message to all is Christchurch – and the rest of New Zealand – is open for service. In this ‘blog4NZ’ let me remind you of a couple of Canterbury places that are well worth visiting.

Wrap around views from the Mt John Cafe

With a population of about 300, Tekapo, in the Mackenzie Country, is one of the world’s special places where you can still see the night sky clearly. From the top of Mt. John, you will have a 360º view of the big skies and the carved-by-ancient-glaciers landscape.

The glacial waters flowing from the Southern Alps fill the 30-kilometre long Lake Tekapo with its remarkable turquoise colour which is caused by the refraction of light through the finely ground rock particles of the melt waters. Read more about the night sky and tours available here.

Of course the area is also famous for stories of sheep rustling, and the beautiful church of the Good Shepherd: it’s well worth a few nights stay – don’t just drive through on your way to Aoraki Mt. Cook, New Zealand tallest mountain.

This church is on everyone's 'must-see' list when in Tekapo

Adele – a super yatch in Wellington

Yesterday I could see a very tall mast from my balcony,  so had to walk down Cuba St and see what was at the bottom of it … it’s the super yacht Adele …. I’d love to have a sail on this elegant looking vessel.


Adele - Wellington harbour


read more about Adele here

Wellington … my new city

Wellington: New Zealand’s creative capital is my new city.

And,  as a travel writer its good to be in such a vibrant place … I will be adding to the arts scene with my photography (exhibition – Thistle Hall, Cuba St, in late June 2011) and a Travel Writing Workshop (at Toi Poneke,  Abel Smith St 9th July 2011) Contact me for more details heather AT


So,  this is what NZ tourism says about my new backyard ….

“Wellington – New Zealand’s capital city – is known as the nation’s arts and culture capital.

And, while it is the seat of government, there’s nothing grey about downtown Wellington with its lively café culture, quirky public art works, and distinctive Kiwi architecture.

As the home of Te Papa – the national museum and art gallery, Royal NZ Ballet, State Opera, NZ Symphony Orchestra, several professional theatres, and Sir Peter Jackson’s international film empire, Wellington is a city brimming with creative talent.

Two inner city university campuses add to the city’s youth and talent pool, and crowds drawn to major cultural events such as the annual World of WearableArt fuel the constant artistic buzz.

With all that, it’s no wonder that Lonely Planet dubbed Wellington as “the coolest little capital in the world” and listed it at #4 in cities to visit in 2011.

Dramatic harbour setting

Wellington’s compact café-filled central city – poised between the hills and a dramatic harbour setting – offers visitors more than its fair share of art galleries, museums, fashion and design boutiques, all within a short walk from each other.

The cityscape is one form of public art with its blend of old and new – from simple wooden colonial houses to imposing heritage buildings and post-modern architecture.

Noteworthy architecture includes the 19th century Parliamentary Library, the 1970s Beehive and the 21st century Supreme Court building. In Civic Square, old meets new to create a modern public piazza linked to the waterfront, close to the new Wharewaka / Māori canoe house and Te Papa’s imposing form.

The waterfront walkway and main shopping streets are populated with creative flair – quirky Wellington-themed art works, sculptures and a writers’ walk of quotations about the city.

Urban hum

Bars, nightclubs and restaurants hum into the early hours in Courtenay Place – the city’s main entertainment hub – alongside the stately St James theatre and cinemas, including the Embassy Theatre which hosted international film premières for The Lord of the Rings.

Wellington is renowned for its sophisticated food scene including more than 300 cafés, bars and restaurants, and claims more places to eat and drink per capita than New York.

Wellington’s top restaurants – and some of New Zealand’s finest dining establishments – include Matterhorn, Logan Brown and Martin Bosley’s, where the focus is on fresh, seasonal, local food.

Guided food tours introduce visitors to gourmet food stores, coffee roasters, cafés and restaurants.

Boutiques for New Zealand fashion design names, including Voon, Robyn Mathieson, Starfish, Andrea Moore and Alexandra Owen, populate the shopping precincts of Victoria and Featherston streets, while Cuba St is the face of emerging designers.

Galleries and museums
Wellington is home to numerous galleries and museums, including Te Papa Tongarewa – the national museum of New Zealand, the City Gallery, and the Museum of City and Sea – each with their own store of creative works from New Zealanders past and present.

Te Papa is a contemporary museum of innovative and interactive displays – beloved by adults and children alike – that showcases New Zealand’s diverse art and visual culture in collections featuring wildlife, history, Māori culture, contemporary art and culture.

Museum of Wellington City and Sea, in a significant waterfront heritage building, offers an insight into the city’s social and cultural history.

Film and theatre scene
Wellington’s thriving theatre and film scene has produced some of New Zealand’s best known actors, performers, film and television industry professionals.

Often referred to as ‘Wellywood’, Wellington is the home of film director Sir Peter Jackson and his production facility, and was a location for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. The latest production underway is The Hobbit.

Weta Cave offers a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects used in the Jackson movies, including film interviews with Weta co-founders Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk. The mini museum showcases characters, props and displays from more than 20 years of Weta history.

Visitors can take LOTR location tours, or self-drive to the more accessible locations.

Cultural events

Wellington’s calendar of large scale international events includes the World of WearableArt awards and the International Arts Festival.

WOW – a spectacular show where fashion and art collide – attracts entries from more than 300 international designers that show to sell-out crowds over a 10-night period.”


So, as a travel writer its good to be in such a vibrant place … I will be adding to the arts scene with my photography (exhibition Thistle Hall, Cuba St, in late June 2011) and a Travel Writing Workshop (at Toi Poneke,  Abel Smith St 9th July 2011) Contact me for more details heather AT


Katherine Mansfield: guided walk Wellington

Love the writing of Katherine Mansfield, if so take this guided walk to trace her steps here in Wellington, New Zealand during New Zealand book month 2011.

This walk will take about 90 mins and will be guided by NZSA (NZ Society of Authors) member Kevin Boon – a man who has written about Katharine’s life in Wellington.

Visiting Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace is part of the tour

DATE: Sunday 20th 2011 at 1030

COST: $20.00

Bookings required: for more details  contact

International Women’s Day in Wellington, New Zealand

International Women’s Day celebrates 100 years today, and to mark the day I,  and some 270 other men and women,  attended a breakfast in the Banquet Hall of New Zealand’s Parliament Building: I was seated at the VTNZ table.

Each table had flyers of reminding us of "100 Women Who Changed the World"- a wide sample of women.

This is an annual event hosted by the Minister of Women’s Affairs and the Zonta Club of Wellington and UN Women Aotearoa New Zealand.

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise”

– Maya Angelou from ‘Still I rise’


The Mayor Of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown

Minister of Womens Affairs Hon. Hekia Parata
Minister of Women's Affairs Hon. Hekia Parata











Next year, make sure the invitation has your name and I’ll see you there


Animals, birds and earthquake predictions?

Can animals and birds predict quakes, and do they leave an area after one? One of the effects of the Christchurch earthquake means our conversations around the water cooler, and over our fabulous coffee which we Kiwi are very fussy about, means quakes and how to predict them  are high on the chatter topics.

Last night I was talking with friends over the charlatans and soothsayers who seem to think they know things  that thousands of scientists, with years and years of international study behind them, don’t know.  A curse on all their houses I say!

The only good thing is that perhaps they are making people think about creating a survival kit … enough to be self sufficient for 72 hours is the recommendation by New Zealand Civil Defence.

We also talked about ‘birds leaving Christchurch after the first quake’ … as someone who was living there at the time of the September 4th 2010, 7.1 quake, I can tell you the birds never left the huge trees beside my apartment block in the centre of the city!

However I decided to do some research … but of course it’s all ‘after the quake’ research and I wonder how much the people who report natural events are influenced by their expectations or imagination.  This is not a criticism, just a fact of being human.  Police and other agencies have often said – 6 people witnessing an event will report six different views of the same incident.

Here is some of what I found:

The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behaviour prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC.  Rates, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days befor a destructive earthquake.  Anectdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an earthquake.  However, consistent and reliable behavior prior to seismic events, and a mechanism explaining how it could work, still eludes us.  Most, but not all, scientists pursuing this mystery are in China or Japan.” read more of article this here ( Sic. Spelling mistakes as per the website!)

For knowledgeable, scientific  information I believe this NZ site will give you the best information.