Last day

We’re moving out of the Bay Plaza Hotel today and the WiFi’s not so good at the Waterloo nor the Station Hotel, so I won’t be updating my blog again until we get home on Monday afternoon.

See you then. 🙂


Here I am (on August 1st)

30 July 2016

Sadly, we had to leave the Bay Plaza this morning. I would definitely recommend it to anyone staying in Wellington. It’s conveniently located, is close to Te Papa, the i-SITE, the Wellington Museum, the Michael Fowler Centre and the CBD; the staff are welcoming, friendly, and exceedingly helpful; it has a lovely view (when the weather behaves); the amenities are all that you need; and it’s not too noisy.

We are now back in the Waterloo in room 510. It’s more central, being over the road from the Railway Station, but it’s noisier, the staff aren’t quite as welcoming, you can’t adjust the heating in the rooms (and they’re too hot), and it’s a bit more budget. But it’s okay for one night.

The Station Hotel, where we’ll be tomorrow night, is another place that I wouldn’t recommend for more than one night. It’s a few steps down again from the Waterloo. It’s not bad, but it’s not ideal. And there isn’t much in the way of eating places nearby.

I decided to have a cooked breakfast this morning, using the voucher we bought on day one, so I had an omelette with ham, cheese, onion and mushrooms. (I don’t like cooked tomatoes.) Once again it was too much of a good thing, so I didn’t eat it all. I also found it a little salty, but that’s probably because we don’t have a lot of salt in our diet. I had some fruit to “cleanse my pallet” (I love fresh melons and pineapple) and then a couple of slices of toast.

We sat there and wondered about the Metrocideris (I won’t say Pohutukawa, because it probably wasn’t – it’s leaves were too small, so it’s probably a hybrid with a Rata) outside that was starting to flower. And then watched the two Tui that were flying around in it.

Back to the room to finish packing our bags. It was the old unzip the extension on the suitcase, close zip the case proper closed, then zip the extension closed and cross your fingers.

Finally, taking care of my precious Thunderbirds are Go poster, we left the premises. We walked past another couple of Metrocideris that were even more in flower, and had larger, more wavy leaves than a Pohutukawa.

Another thing in the Bay Plaza’s favour. When we arrived there they checked with housekeeping to see if our room was ready and then let us up. D.C. reckons the Waterloo checked too, but we had the option of either leaving our things in a locker for free (they supplied the $2), or else pay $10 for early access to our room.

We took the locker option.

Deciding that one of the larger lockers on the floor was best for us, we chose number 28 and easily fitted in both suitcases, D.C.’s day pack, (reluctantly) EOS and my e-reader, and my monopod.

Finally read what to do to lock the locker.
1.    Insert supplied $2 coin
2.    Enter your pin code that you thought of and will remember.
3.    Locker supplies you with the locker to use…
And it chose #7. Small, too small, and on top.

So we had to get one of the staff members to reprogramme it to let us use 28.

Then we went out cardboard tube hunting. We quite like Wellington, with its harbour, and sculpture, and everything being central. It’s like it’s been designed for the people.

But its street layout is a mess.

We were looking for Victoria Street (Warehouse Stationary) and/or Cuba Mall ($2 Shop). We couldn’t find them.

What we did find was the curb – or at least D.C. did as she walked around a diverted footpath at a construction site. I was in front of her and next thing I knew I heard her stumble and then I looked around to see her finish her dive to the ground, landing on my foot.

Two very concerned ladies came rushing over to her to help her up – which was a change because she usually seems to fall at the feet of young men. One of the construction workers did come over very apologetic. She was okay (I say she bounces), but we found a seat and she sat down for a bit.

We’d started off again when I spied Whitcoulls over the road. I left D.C. sitting at the bus stop and dashed over the road. Since I knew where the stationery department was, I knew where to start looking for mailing tubes.

Hurray! And sold singly!

There were two sizes; one wider and one longer – $5.99. I’d measured the poster against my arm and the longer one appeared to be long enough. I took one up to the counter and checked if they had plastic ones. No. These were the only ones available. Looking at it, I discovered a slight dent in one end. This would be a weak spot so I took it back. The second one I picked up was caved right in. So I found a third that appeared to be structurally intact.

I’d thought earlier that I’d probably want to tape the lids on so there was no chance of it falling off. Now I was thinking that if I got some packaging tape I could not only tape on the lids, but also “waterproof” the tube by covering it in tape.

I was contemplating the various types and prices, including one roll that was $14.99 and thinking that it was only $6.95 though work, when a sales lady came up to see if I required assistance. I explained what I was doing and she went straight to the Whitcoulls brand tape – $4.99 and, she said, just as good as the other stuff. So that’s what I got. Normally I would have said don’t bother with the plastic bag, but I theorised that, taped on, it would be an extra layer of protection.

I stepped outside, went to cross the road, and it started raining. I made sure that the tube wasn’t going to get wet, and unhooked Kally’s bear bag and shoved her into my pocket.

It was close to 11:00am by this point, and we were going to meet Ann and Duncan to wave them goodbye as they went to Matiu / Soames Island. They had invited us, but the weather forecast was for gales, so we’d decided to go to the Wellington Museum instead.

We’d been sitting outside a restaurant, Foxglove, that sounded like it would have nice meals, for about forty minutes and no one had turned up for the boat. So we went down to the ticket office. Was the boat to Matiu / Soames still going?

“You could always take Thunderbird One,” said the man. He’d seen my International Rescue logo on Kally’s bear bag.

“Ah! Someone who recognises it! If I could fly out there in Thunderbird One, I would.”

The boat wasn’t leaving until 12.00 midday, so we went back outside to wait.

Ann, Duncan, and Duncan’s mum, Ann (that must be confusing) turned up. Ann walked straight past us to greet other members of the group. We chatted to Duncan and his mum until Ann came back, bringing with her, her boss. She introduced us as the Kaitiaki (guardians) of the Fred Butler collection. We said that sounded a bit too grand for us (especially as Puke Ariki owns most of it.) Ann reiterated that they had plenty of lunch and that we were more than welcome to join them for trip – an art performance based on the life of the Kea. It probably would be interesting, but we decided against it.

We saw them off onto the boat, waved them goodbye, and then went to the Foxglove restaurant for lunch. We both had chicken thighs stuffed with sage and onion, wrapped in Manuka tree cured bacon, on potatoes and Italian coleslaw. It was only three bits of chicken on the coleslaw with lots of potatoes to bulk it us, and it cost $26 each, but it was nice.

But they’d labelled the toilets “bathroom”. Stupid idea. There was nowhere to bathe in there.

While we were eating we were able to see the route that the ferry had taken. The wind had picked up and at one point the rain was pelting down and the win was picking up the sea and blowing it horizontally.

We were glad we hadn’t gone on the boat.

We also saw a lot of families, most with little girls decked out in princess gowns and many carrying Mickey Mouse bags. The “Disney on Ice” show was on at the TSB Arena. (Brian, our driver yesterday, was going last night with his grandkids. I think the adults were as excited as the children.

Following that we headed off to the Wellington Museum. Which I said was in the direction it wasn’t. Dodging the squalls we ended up back at the Waterloo Hotel, so we went inside to ask for directions to the Wellington Museum.

“Which museum? There are lot of them.”

“Wellington Museum.”

“Te Papa?”

“No. Wellington Museum.”

“There’s no such place.”

“Yes, there is.”

“Do you mean the Museum of Sea and Sky?”

“Yes. It was called Wellington Museum before it got that tag line.”

So she looked it up on the computer. “Oh, yes. It is called Wellington Museum.”

We could have found our way there without their help.

We arrived at the Wellington Museum just in time for a “Poisons and Power” walk and talk. So we decided to join in – meeting up in the newly opened “Attic”.

I think it was done by university students, as they were all young.

The leader, who worked for the Wellington Museum, was allos the president of the Italian Society, so the stories had an Italian slant – which didn’t make it any less interesting.

The first story was told by “Alan Turing”, who I’m sure was a lot more “limp wristed” than he may have actually been. He explained about his early life, how he’d always been different to his peers, in more ways than one, and how he worked at a radio factory during the war…

At this point he was interrupted by our guide. Of course he hadn’t worked at a radio factory. He’d been at Bletchley Park, deciphering the German’s enigma code. (See my last England blog for more about that.) During Turing’s lifetime, he’d been forbidden by the official secrets act from speaking about what he’d achieved there.

The popular story around his death was that, because of the persecution about his sexuality, by those in power, Turing committed suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide. – Poison. Another theory expounded here was that he was very careless with his chemicals and that it was an accident. Of course there’s always the conspiracy theorists who maintain the MI6 – people in power – poisoned him because he knew too much.

They also said that when Apple Computers created their logo of an apple with a bite out of it, it was in Turing’s honour. I piped up and said that those behind the company had been asked about that in an interview and had said: “If only we’d thought of that…”

Our guide quickly amended his story.

Going down a floor we were met by a journalist. He was saying how that the general populace was poisoned by a need to hear sensationalised stories. He’d started out by being an idealist reporter, determined to write about what was going on in the world, not what people said they wanted to hear. By the time he became the Auckland Star’s editor-in-chief (Clark was his name, I think), he was just as bad at “sexing” up a story as anyone else. He led an anti-Italian crusade during the Second World War to poison people against them – because everyone knew that Italians thought nothing of poisoning anyone.

Down another level and into the Wellington Harbour Board committee room. I was one of the last in and as they were trying to encourage people to sit in the seats at the head table, D.C. suggested that I sit there so I’d have a better view. I ended up sitting right behind the actress for the next tableau.

On the table were three glasses of water. She called for volunteers.

“You seem to have three volunteers sitting behind you,” says our guide.

That was the man next to me, a woman at the other end, and me. We were given a glass each and asked to drink. We did so reluctantly, me pointing at D.C. and saying: “This is your fault”, and then saying “cheers” to the assembled audience.

We were then told that one of the glasses had poison in it. “What? Fluoride?”

Our actress was an Italian (not Lucretia Borgia) and she was known to have a hand in the poisoning of at least 600 people with Aqua Tofana. She said she did it to remove beaten and downtrodden wives of their husbands. She’d developed the poison out of the belladonna flower, arsenic, and lead.

⦁    One drop produced cold like symptoms in the poisoned husband.
⦁    Two drops and he was bedridden.
⦁    Three drops and he was on last legs. The doctor’s advice was that the poor patient get their affairs in order and make arrangements for the estate to support his widow.
⦁    Four drops and he died. Struck down by a cold that got worse.

Eventually she was dobbed in by one of her clients.

Down another level to our final actor. This young man was dressed in army fatigues and had a nuclear free badge on his tunic. He (haltingly as he kept on forgetting his lines) related the poisoning of the South Pacific by the French at Moruroa Atoll, and how the New Zealanders were keen to travel there to state their opposition to the testing. People power.

Last time we’d been there they hadn’t finished the “Attic”. One of the displays was a supposed time travel machine that had been found in the old Wellington Harbour Board’s attic when it was cleared out. It had a video screen on each of its six sides and the story moved between the three on either side. It started back in the big bang, a bit of the formation of Earth, a moa feeding in 19 AD, a Haast’s Eagle zooming in for the attack, later there was Kupe’s wife telling how she’d first seen Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud. It continued on through other settlers to 2043.


It was after 4.00pm, so we thought we’d better head back to the Waterloo Hotel and claim our room.

It was here that I discovered that the mailing tube was the same length as the poster. But by turning the caps so they faced the other way and taping it well and truly into place, my poster was well protected. Especially once every inch was covered in tape, and then well taped into the Whitcoulls plastic bag.

We’d booked tickets to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Mozart and Richard Strauss at the Michael Fowler Centre, so after a very quick change we headed out.

Not having had any dinner, (but having had a decent sized lunch) we were hoping to find someplace to have a snack. Everyone we spoke to said that Cuba Street had a good number of eating places. It was because of this that I didn’t lead us along Waterloo Quay, which I knew led us to the Michael Fowler Centre, but back a block.

Wellington might be great with its waterfront, and sculptures, and public transport, but its street layout’s terrible! Have I already said that? We seemed to be getting further and further “inland” and, because of the darkness, I couldn’t see any landmarks that I knew. We I started steering us back to the waterfront and back onto Waterloo Quay. Once there it was easy to find the Michael Fowler Centre, although D.C. had her doubts – thinking that we’d gone past it.

Tonight was some rugby game – I think it was a semi-final or final of the Super Rugby series or something. I knew it was the Hurricanes (Wellington region) versus the Chiefs (Waikato). We were going against the flow as all these people of all ages decked out in yellow and black, and the occasional brave sole in red, yellow and black (?) heading to the Westpac Stadium for the game.

We found the front door and went in and asked where there was anywhere to eat, and was once again directed to Cuba Street. So we went outside and the whole “mall” was lit up and filled with stalls. This was a regular Saturday evening fixture and there were lots of different foods to try. So we bought two Pad Thai, that were once again too much of a good thing, and sat outside in the not too cool evening to eat it. We followed that with a Whitakers Chocolate hot chocolate, and then went to the Michel Fowler Centre.

If we’d been earlier, and we would had been if we’d known about it, we could have attended a before the show session about the music that was going to be performed.

We’d booked our seats before we’d left Thames, and that was a saga in itself. The cheapest seats were $53 the most expensive over $100. We got the cheap seats. I was going to try for the raised seats behind the stage, so we could look down onto the orchestra, but when I chose a couple it came up with the message “obstructed view” (probably because all you’d see was the conductor and the back of the rest of the orchestra’s heads). It also kept asking if I wanted to change seats. I eventually worked out that it had offered us “two of the best seats remaining.” If they were two of the best…

But I couldn’t get them. Probably because it had earmarked them for me. In the end I accepted the latest two of “the best seats remaining”.

About a metre from the stage. And we had to look up to see anything.

We weren’t too worried about this, after all, it’s an audial (sp) recital, not a visual one, so you didn’t have to see all that was happening. It would have added to the experience, but it wasn’t necessary.

The pieces were by Rudolf Escher (nephew of M.C. Escher, the artist) – Musique pour l’esprit en deuil (Music for the Spirit in Mourning), W.A. Mozart – Horn Concerto No. 4, and Richard Strauss – Sinfonia Domestica. The only piece I recognised was one of Mozart’s, but as soon as that bracket started, you knew you were listening to Mozart. Strauss’ was based on his home life – things like bathing the recalcitrant baby.

The musicians were excellent, but I did find my mind wandering. Do they shift those things on the strings to adjust the tension and the pitch? Why are the tensioning pegs(?) on her cello in a straight line, while his are on an angle, and he doesn’t seem to have any! It the conductor moves his chair back much further, that castor’s going to fall off the platform. He won’t fall because of the barrier behind him, but would he get such a fright that he’d stop conducting?

Tonight was probably one of the safest nights to walk through Wellington at 9.30pm. All the rugby fans were leaving the stadium and all were happy. One guy saw us: “Go the mighty Canes!”

I said: “We’re from Waikato.”

“No wonder you’re looking so miserable.”

“We’re not. We’ve just been to the orchestra. It was great!”

And it wasn’t cold and raining.

We got back to the Waterloo and a group of rugby fans came in. Most took the stairs, but one said “I’ll race ya. I’ll take the lift.”

He was going to the first floor, and we were on the fifth (510), so he’d be getting out first. He asked us if we were sisters, or mother and daughter. “I knew you were something.”

The fact that we were dressed in similar style jackets (mine was pink, D.C.’s pale blue) and were both wearing beanies probably helped.

We packed our bags, had a couple of drinks of green tea, and went to sleep in our too hot room.


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