Pianos and bulls: Te Papa, Wellington

Today I had a date with myself, a day off as the sun was shining and the waterfront magic. I also visited Te Papa Tongarewa, NZ’s national museum and a must see for all visitors to Wellington, NZ.

One of the exhibitions I saw was Micheal Parekowhai’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” which was first shown at the 2011 Venice Biennale. As I have said in an earlier blog ,it is different in this setting to the one I saw in Christchurch (NZ) one because its inside, and the other is it’s the first time they have been shown together in one space – I believe he wanted the pieces even closer together but this was not possible because of the weight of the bronze! Note; this is only on show until 23rd September 2012

I liked it better in Christchurch – see those photos here. (what do you think?)

Hannah Fraser accompanies singer Aroha White

Catherine McKay plays He Korero the piano which has been purchased by Te Papa. (she also played it in Venice)


Bronze bulls and cultural vandalism

Travelling from the 2011 Venice Biennale, on to Paris, then Christchurch and now, Wellington, New Zealand is Michael Parekowhai ‘s installation On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer .

The centrepiece of the installation is the bright red, carved, grand piano and I look forward to seeing it again in its new space at Te Papa – NZ’s national museum.  ( Te Papa has bought this part of the installation)

I saw the installation in Christchurch in June 2012 but will be sure to see it indoors here in my new city: I’m sure its surroundings make a difference.  When I saw it the bronze pianos and bulls were outside – in a patch of cleared rubble – there after buildings had been demolished following the city-destroying quake in February 2011. I loved the setting.  In Venice it was in a 15th century, Gothic palace.

Interestingly, or rather ironically, in Christchurch the piano, titled He Koreoro Purakau mo te Awanui o te Motu: story of a New Zealand river,  was inside a Christchurch  Art Gallery  “Outer Spaces”  space in the NG  building on Madras St.

This historic building, the old Bains warehouse, is one of very few left in the city after the quake and resulting demolitions in the inner city.  This repaired, safe building is scheduled to be demolished for a sports stadium: appalling cultural vandalism.

Been to Ashburton? Have a quick look here.

In late June I was in Ashburton for a couple of nights – by putting my business card in a draw at a travel expo, I won 2 nights at the Bella Vista motel and a flight on Lady Jane – the historic DC3. While I went flying with their patron Richie McCaw almost immediately, travel and a shift to New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, meant I didn’t have a free weekend to get to Ashburton.

Nevertheless, the wait was worth it and my hosts, the hospitable Evan and Heather Glass, made my trip  and stay enjoyable. (And, thanks for sending my PJs back to me!)

Travelling in my usual NZ Rent A Car I drove from Christchurch to Ashburton and back to Christchurch via highway 77 during a crisp winter weekend.

As well as talking with the editor of Latitude Magazine  about future contributions, (topics embargoed!) two things I saw in the area sort of link together in age!

Both are about ten years old but while one is housed in a hundred year old cottage, the other is newish and is surrounded by new homes with more being planned!

See some of my photos from the area:

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Annie’s Country Quilt Store is on State Highway One at 167 Archibald Street just south of the Ashburton River Bridge.  For those who love stitch-craft this little cottage is the place for you: it’s full of quilting, patterns and kits, patchwork fabrics and gifts. So even if you don’t have needle skills (like me) you can buy something for friends and family who are talented in this practice.

Turning off Archibald St into Graham Street and heading east, a few kilometres drive will take you to Lake Hood, an artificial lake that was formed 10 years ago as a water sports destination and housing estate (Huntingdon Park).  So if you are into rowing, wind surfing, sailing or jet skiing this is for you: I think you need all your own gear so check their webpage for more info. 

Of course if you want some exercise a 7 km cycle and walkway (Braided River)leads to the lake from Ashburton (on the south side of the Ashburton river) while the north bank has a the Hakatere Trail – a 19 km-cycle-way to the Pacific Ocean.

Ashburton also has a mountain bike trail too. See the local visitor I-site for more.

Read, travel, and inspire

Enjoying the Wellington waterfront

I’ve just found (or rather they found me!) way to ignite your travel life, make a difference, and  have fun – and for you to read, travel and be inspired by other women.

So many women’s travel pages feed on fear and concentrate on protection of our bodies and gear that if we followed them all we would never travel – of if we did, it would be with one eye over our shoulder always.  Unfortunately this means we miss out  on what’s happening now, right now which is the only safe and exciting place to live.

When I travel I rarely blog as I go; I’m too busy enjoying the place I’m at. I also rarely email home – my friends and family are happy to wait to get the whole story, not a blow-by-blow account of the back street I got lost in or the amazing meal I had at ABC. Others of course love to tweet and travel and isn’t it great that we are all different while being the same.

So if you want some good info about places around the world (Including my home city Wellington where “women in Wellington seem happier, more confident and just plain fabulous”  Worldette is the place to start– so,see you on their pages, and while you’re there, download their 45 page guide and see their philosophy about women and travel.

Te Araroa: the long pathway allows you to hike the length of New Zealand

Te Araroa means The Long Pathway – and its 3000 kilometres (1850+ miles) link one end of New Zealand with the other and takes some 5 0r 6 million steps to complete.

The trail starts here at Cape Reinga, Northland.
Tanera Park, Wellington


All over the world there are many long walks, what makes this one different is that it doesn’t merely traverse one geographic feature but covers all the variety of terrain of one country: coastline to forests; from river valleys to mountain passes, from lakes to volcanoes!  It even passes through Tanera Park, and beside my allotment, here in our capital city, Wellington.  


So, if you plan on walking all or some of the trail you could do no better that use the book by Geoff Chapple, published by Random House, Te Araroa: a walking guide to New Zealand’s long trail.


Eat, cruise, photograph – and take the consequences!

Njord, Viking River Cruise


Food and travel go together like a spoon in a mouth.  For some it’s the problem of ‘where can I find my usual foods?’ or ‘what does this word mean’ on a menu:  for most of us travel-a-holics  food is how we get to know a place – through their food.  And, for me, how to restrain myself? But lets face it, when I eat and  cruise I have to take the consequences.

Despite all the walking I did during my European river cruise off-the-boat excursions I returned home with some extra baggage on my body. Evidently, my on-board-eating and the energy-in versus energy-out-ratio were out of sync!

Striding out in Wurzburg

Let me explain how it happened:  (these are not excuses!)

  • I’m an early riser, and photographer, so with the sun rising at around 530am I was often on deck at the same time – every morning at 6am the galley delivered fresh, still warm from the oven, delicious little pastries ­­ – and I had one or two to go with my mochachino.
  • Breakfast was available 7am to 9am. The young man making omelettes made about one hundred a day to order. Add fruit, yoghurt, cereals, porridge, eggs (anyway we wanted them) mushrooms, bacon, tomato, cheese, eggs, croissants, breads, rolls, meats and roll-mops – just to name some of the delights we were presented with.
  • Morning and afternoon tea times saw us with more freshly baked goodies appearing at the coffee station which is available 24 hrs.
  • Lunch was available in the restaurant or in the forward indoor/outdoor lounge. I mostly choose the upstairs area so I could continue photographing the scenery and birds. There we lined up to get our choices ( mains, soup, dessert, salads, etc.) while of course in the restaurant we had the very friendly, really efficient, wait-staff ( most who were from the Philippines)
  • Dinner, (for which our group always dressed for – not formal, merely changing our clothes to make the evening even more ‘special’) was always 3 courses plus cheese and coffee to finish. So, three courses each with three choices meant as from the first day, means 99% of us were being offered more temptation than we experienced at home. I failed the temptation test.

For those of us with special food requirements the Chef and his staff, and especially the Maître d’, were great.  When booking the trip we had a form to fill in which asked about our food needs.  I am allergic to alcohol and let the Maître d’ know that even if the chef said the “alcohol is burnt off” I didn’t want anything that had had alcohol near it. To make sure this happened, he bought me the evening menu at breakfast daily; I chose my meal and he not only ensured the kitchen prepared an alcohol-free version of the dish but delivered it to me himself.  I believe he delivered gluten-free and other ‘different’ meals to guests too.

For me, it was a relief to have Mr Zoran Gajanovic, Maître d’, Njord, Viking ensuring my meals were safe for me. Thank you Zoran!

The river cruise I led this year was through Fifty plus Travel in New Zealand so visit their website if you would like to experience river cruising (the fastest growing tourism activity in the world!)

NOTE: around the world, most dishes with alcohol in them are not usually mentioned on menus – especially in sauces and jus – and for those of us who cannot tolerate alcohol (or have religious prohibitions) means we have to be constantly be vigilant.  See this chart about the percentage of alcohol left after various cooking methods.  I have blogged about this topic a couple of years ago. Chef Liz, author of The Sober Kitchen has a helpful chart which tells how to substitute alcohol in recipes. See it here:  I have just ordered her book, which I have often borrowed from the library.

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More global food and travel issues (and recipes J) are in Lonely Planet’s new book Food Lover’s Guide to the World  which is due out in October 2012. So, take your taste buds on a tour around the world and cook up your next great culinary adventure. It hascontributions from celebrity food-lovers, including chef Fergus Henderson (co-founder of St John restaurant, London), chef, restaurateur and food writer Mark Hix, Dan Hunter (chef at the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Victoria), Tessa Kiros (author of Limoncello and Linen Water), chef Atul Kochhar (Benares restaurant, London), Eric Ripert (head chef at Le Bernardin, New York) and Ruth Rogers (River Café, London) and,

* Best places to find local dishes in cities great & small.

* Cultural tips and how-to-eat etiquette.

* Introductions by Mark Bittman, lead food writer for The New York Times Magazine; and James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur magazine.

* More than 50 authentic recipes to prepare at home.