After my travel adventures yesterday, it was lovely to be welcomed back into Will and Juliet’s home once more, before I set off for my big trip round South Island on Monday. I finally arrived Friday evening, just in time for some more of their culinary magic, a welcome relief from scrambled eggs three days in a row (I couldn’t find any pesto in the end).
There was a huge storm last night but, miraculously, I slept through it (I’m usually an incredibly light sleeper). It always amazes me how travel tires you out. I basically spent most of yesterday sat on my bum on a bus not doing anything, but I slept as though I’d participated in an Iron Man competition – weird.
It was still pretty stormy today – real yo-yo clothing weather (you know – when you have to keep putting your raincoat on and taking it off at the whim of the elements). But we decided to head ‘downtown’ anyway, so that Will and Juliet could go wedding ring shopping and I could go to Auckland Museum.
The museum is a modern building on top of a hill overlooking the city, in an area intriguingly called ‘The Domain’. I was there for three hours, until being chucked out at closing time, and I only managed to cover two out of the three floors. The bottom floor is dedicated to Maori artefacts, including a 25m long ornately carved waka (war canoe), formed from a single vast log and capable of holding 100 warriors. There was also the opportunity to step inside a Maori wharenui (meeting house).
The second floor was natural history, with the standard fare of stuffed animals, plus the brilliant addition of live displays such as huge insects (New Zealand has the heaviest insect in the world, the giant weta – quite a fearsome looking beastie but totally harmless) and some amazing, huge eels. There was also an excellent section dedicated to volcanoes, given Auckland’s precarious position on top of an active volcano field. I was particularly impressed by the simulation of what it would be like for residents if a volcano exploded in the sea nearby (which it inevitably will one day). It was a pretty gruelling experience, and I noticed that the initial excited chatter from the other participants was soon replaced by awed quiet and occasional grunts of discomfiture – knowing this could happen to you must be quite a sobering thought. At that moment I felt quite lucky to live in boring old England – more tea and biscuits than ice and fire.
Below is a (not very good) photo of the giant war canoe from the museum – it really doesn’t do it justice unfortunately, but you can get some idea of its size.
I am now off to bed, to contemplate my last night as a 32 year old (how strange, a fireworks display has just started outside – surely in my honour?!). Tomorrow will be my first birthday spent abroad. About time too, I say.