A Topp Day

30 August 2019

Isn’t funny how when you do two totally dissimilar things in one day, it feels like the first thing was done days earlier? Like this morning we were picked up at 9.00am by Ian of Taranaki Tours’ Toyota mini bus. This was nearly as good as FAB1 as Ian could control, not only the windows from the driver’s seat, but also the doors. What was also good was that we were the only ones on the tour. He had had someone else booked in, but they got a cold overnight and had called their booking off. This meant that D.C. had the front seat and I had the central seat behind so we were both able to see straight ahead.

The weather was threatening rain today, but that largely held off – except when approaching Mount Taranaki, but that was later on in the piece. The tour usually included the Wind Wand, the Brooklands Bowl and the Gables, and Marsland Hill, but as we’d been there yesterday with Jenny (Ian had seen us) he skipped those locations.

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Someone has a sense of humour

Instead we went to the port, and saw the swimming pool complex (most vehemently opposed by the older members of the community, most frequently used by the older members of the community) and the port with the chimney and the breakwaters. Then it was to other points of interest, like the views over the city, driving through the various housing styles and prices, and out to Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, which we hadn’t seen before. Its style is based on a breaking wave.

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And, if you’re lucky, a view of Mt Taranaki. We weren’t lucky.

We did get out here for a short walk and a chance to get some photos. Most of the rest of the tour was spent in the bus.

From there we were heading out to the DoC North Egmont Visitor Centre, when Ian asked if we wanted to see Uncle Fred’s house at Sentry Hill. So we went the “long way” to Mt Taranaki stopping off at the truck stop. I recognise the exterior, but the interior has majorly been renovated.

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Still, they had a cat, which Uncle Fred would have approved of.

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He would approve

The mountain still wasn’t playing ball when we got to the visitor centre. But we did get to see this…

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The temperature dropped about seven degrees between where we left sea level and the 950m (if I remember correctly – my ears and the pressure they were under could probably tell you) North Egmont Visitor Centre. It also started to rain. Not heavily – the Toyota didn’t have automatic windscreen wipers, but enough to shove Kally into my pocket.

Following that all too short visit, (and having passed the Volca No View Restaurant) we stopped off at Lake Mangamahoe, where we could have also got a spectacular view of Mt Taranaki – if it played ball. Which it didn’t.

But we did see a mallard(?) drake with a fluffy pom-pom topknot. So I asked if I could get photos – of the duck, not the lake – which was man made and has a dam at the end.

From there it was back into town, and Ian asked where we wanted to be dropped off. As by this point it was well past midday (when the tour was due to end), I asked if he could recommend a good café.

He dropped us outside the Chaos Café.

Oh, well. It must be good food if both locals recommend it. So, after thanks and a hug goodbye,  D.C. had a salmon cake and I had a chicken, brie, and cranberry filo. I ordered us hot chocolates, but should have asked for the Aztec Hot Chocolate with the chilli and cinnamon. But we still got the Whittaker’s sante bar to stir it with and suck on.

Lunch finished, what were we going to do?

It was slightly rainy, so we headed back to the Bella Vista and offloaded the gear we didn’t need. Then was popped over the road and past the Monica’s Eatery to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. D.C. got in for $10, whereas I had to pay $15.

The first exhibit was a large; very, very large; plastic bag, which D.C. automatically touched (it was pretty much hanging in the doorway) and caused a staff member to come running over telling her not to and that if she wanted to touch something, here was a sample of the plastic.

Still don’t know what the plastic bag was supposed to represent.

Like a lot of the exhibits. “What on Earth and why…?”

We did learn that the exterior of the Len Lye Centre is made of concrete cast in Wellington, covered in steel from somewhere overseas – and, if you know the secret, it is possible to look into and out of the gallery through clear panels.

One exhibition space (where Ann Shelton had displayed her Library to Scale artwork and which must have shrunk since 2007 with the number of layers of paint that would be on the walls) had Len Lye and Elizabeth Thomson. Her stuff I could get (once it was explained to me and I got to touch samples of the cast bronze). His…

We were excitedly told that the “Universe” was going to be set in action. So we went down to the exhibition hall where the Universe was in action. Imagine a large hoop of steel. Imagine that hoop being rocked side to side by electromagnets. Imagine something (that reminded me of an apple, but probably wasn’t) dangling above this hoop and occasionally hitting it with a clang. Imagine that it means something.

Yeah. I can’t either. As an example of Newton’s laws of physics, I got it. As a work of art…


The shaving brush made out of fine steel rods at least had some aesthetic value.

Elizabeth Thomson’s artwork appeared to be based around nature. One was a serpentine line of individually cast bronze lancewood leaves – each one precisely larger or smaller than the one next to it. Then there was the individually cast school of fish – different species working together as one. One piece I saw as the pores of skin with hairs sticking out – it was actually the hairs on an ant’s head. And there were giant moss spores made out of glass. Once explained, these pieces made sense, and had an aesthetic quality.

Everything else in the place?

We went back to the motel and uploaded my photos of the morning.

Just after 5.00pm I ironed my slacks that have been rolled up in my bag since I packed it and got dressed in the clothes I’d brought with me for tonight. About 6.00pm we went back to Puke Ariki.

We went in and sat down. It was due to start at 7.00pm, and D.C. wanted to ensure that she got a seat. There were only a couple of soft ones for day to day use. We sat to another lady who explained to us that she was undergoing chemo for cancer, and couldn’t stand outside for ¾ hour. One of the staff members went away and checked, and then came back and said we all could stay. So we stayed, hanging onto her coat tails. We had quite an interesting conversation.

Everyone was treated to a free glass of champagne, but I had to buy our orange juice. We didn’t get a ticket for a $500 jewellery voucher either. It didn’t matter. We would only have tomorrow to spend it anyway.

We hadn’t had any dinner so I went outside and got six pork dumplings. D.C. only ate two, so I scoffed the rest.

The event was started by the CEO of Puke Ariki, welcoming and acknowledging everyone. She then said that it was traditional for people to receive a telegram from the Queen on their 100th birthday, but we were better than that. The Queen was here to act as compare.

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Down the stairs came a lady in a very regal coat, gloves, tiara, carrying a (soft toy) corgi, and wearing sandshoes. She was entertaining to listen to, attempting to do the posh accent but slipping in the odd word like “loo”.

Then we had the first lot of entertainment. A group that sang songs from the 20s. Mostly jazz style, which I didn’t enjoy, but they did move on to a later period, including “Bring Me Sunshine.”

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There was a break in performers, during which time a young lady gave a hoola hoop display.

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Following her was the act everyone had come to see. Some had already met Ken and Ken as they’d wandered around, but now Lizzy introduced two woman who were untouchable. “They are about to come out…” (I said to the lady next to me: “They already have, haven’t they?”

The Topp Twins came out to the strains of Poi E. It’s probably just as well that I can’t upload video to the blog as you had to put up with me beating time to it as I filmed.

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Slinkies and a black light form the backdrop

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Camp Mother twirls her imaginary poi as Camp Leader plays the guitar. (The poi had been left at home.)

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As always expected, the Topp Twins were funny and musical. For those who don’t know them, I once heard New Zealand’s comedy scene as being yodelling, lesbian, harmonica and guitar playing twins. And they are funny. And talented. Check them out on YouTube.

These two did a dance to YMCA.

After the Topp Twins ahd done their set Puke Ariki did the draw for the jewellery vouchers, leaving two very happy ladies, and then they had more jazz style music. We had a look around the museum, said hi to Laura, who was the only person we recognised, and then left. As had a lot of other people after the Topp Twins had performed.

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We came back home and had a cup of tea.

We only did about 2500 steps today.

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