W.O.W. – A museum with something for all tastes (fashion, art and cars!) – and an exciting journey for me!

I know that many of you are eagerly anticipating information about my school visits, however, I am working within the bounds of some ethics and privacy considerations and other logistics – I will share more general reflections soon when I have visited more schools, I promise – but my time in Nelson was fantastic. Gaye Bloomfield (@gayeblooms) Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Coffee lover and teacher extraordinaire (can you see where we would totally get along?) went out of her way to make me feel welcome, and planned a spectacular week for me visiting schools of all levels and with all unique feels. I really feel like I have “experienced” all levels of Kiwi education now, and that sets me up quite nicely for the framework of my project.

I did get a few opportunities to play as well – starting with a lovely dinner and conversation on Monday night with Gaye. We had a delicious meal and talked for hours about all sorts of things – I think given a combination of enough coffee and wine, we could solve some serious world problems!

Check out the awesome dessert we had:

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Tuesday afternoon I had some free time, and explored the National WOW Museum – a unique museum that combines the Gallery of fashion from the World of Wearable Art shows, along with this massive collection of rare and classic cars both from all over the world.

The outfits were amazing works of art, and in each and every case, someone did wear them for the show. Many are thematic, and some were quite, well, off kilter might be one way to describe it, but I was in awe of the precision and the artistry of the pieces. In some cases I have included the description next to the photo, while in others you can just use your imagination. I did have a few favorites.

At the end was a viewing room where you could watch a video of the highlights of the World of Wearable Art Show, a huge international design competition where these amazing pieces are unveiled.

After the fashion art, I wandered to the next gallery – full of classic cars, super fancy cars, engines and other mechanical type stuff. Y’all – I am way out of my wheel house here – mostly I’m like – look a shiny car – but there were some seriously cool vehicles here to see.

Look through the album for yourself – there were cars that make today’s mini cars look gargantuan, cars that were the size of tanks, and my personal favorite item of luxury – the car with recliners in the back seat (If you can afford that car, my guess is you have a chauffeur, and you are enjoying the recliner).

It was also interesting to see the cars that obviously were collected and imported (remember, they drive on the left here).  It was a cool variety – and I know some of you (I’m looking at you Tom Green) will be quite in heaven looking at these cars.

While I was at the Museum I got a rather exciting email response to something I have been working on since before I left the US – because my project is focused on the use of digital technologies in a variety of situations, I have really strived to find schools of all types, all over New Zealand to visit and connect with.  The carrot that was dangling out in front of me was the ability to visit a school with significant geographical isolation (which is hard, because these schools are very small – we are talking 20 or so students from grades 1 – 8 typically, and only one to two teachers, one of whom is a teaching principal). We had communicated a bit before I left the US, but I had been unable to schedule with school just starting here (Feb is their first month of school here), but I got a response, so in May I will be given the great opportunity to visit this school on Stewart Island (and do some programming with those students). Stewart Island, also called Rakiura is the island south of the south Island of New Zealand, an island that is home to less than 400 permanent residents. The only way to travel commercially to Stewart Island is by a small ferry across the  Foveaux Strait, or a fixed wing flight from Invercargill. At 47° South, it is likely the furthest south this girl will ever travel! If I am lucky – I might even get a chance to view the Aurora Australis – talk about a bucket list item! I am going to make an adventure of this trip, knocking out my South Island school visits during the week, and my bucket list items on the weekend. I will start by flying to Dunedin and visiting schools (and MIEE Rachel @ibpossum), then a weekend road trip through the Caitlins to Invercargill to head to Stewart Island, followed by a weekend in Te Anau and Milford Sound, then a trip to Christchurch to see some schools (and stay in a hostel that was once a jail), before checking out the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve and Lake Tekapo and the Mount John Observatory before heading back to Windy Welly. (I have not forgotten about Queenstown, by the way – I am attending a conference there in April). All in all – can you tell I am excited for this? It looks like I am going to be on the road for much of April and May, with trips to schools in Auckland;  a brief vacation during term break to Australia (Sydney and Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef); Energise Conference in Queenstown, then my South Island Adventure.

After exploring the museum, and doing some work in the cafe, I headed back to the hostel, then grabbed dinner at a lovely Mexican restaurant – where I had my first truly authentic Mexican food since I have been in NZ – Fajitas for the win!

Tomorrow I have school visits and a board meeting, which I am quite excited about attending, before I head back to Wellington and the North Island on Thursday. Nelson has been good to me!

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Old Ships, Old Buses and Old Churches

Today was my final day in Picton, and my bus was scheduled to leave at around 1:30, so I had plenty of time before I needed to be at the bus stop – and Picton is tiny, so it made sense just to leave my bag at the hostel and grab it before the bus instead of schlepping it around town with me and wherever my adventure today might lead me. I checked out, checked in my bag and set off. Sadly, the bakery is not open on Sundays, so I headed to the waterfront to a little café for breakfast and coffee. After I was finished I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. Picton is small, and I had pretty much toured the town – I didn’t want to go for another hike and get all sweaty before boarding a bus (common courtesy, my friends), and the other wildlife tours and such would not allow me the time  to make it back for my bus.

I turned to Google to decide which museum, or other event on the waterfront had the most appeal, and the universal verdict was the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum. I walked across the harbor park and started my journey back in time with this ship, the 9th oldest surviving ship in the world, and the oldest surviving merchant ship in the world. It was also the last surviving convict ship that transported the convicts to Australia – The Edwin Fox was a renaissance ship – serving many roles in its majestic and historical lifetime.

The Edwin Fox was built in Calcutta India in 1853, and was beached in Picton in 1897. The museum takes you through the process of the ship’s amazing construction out of Teak, the voyages and changes to the ship, and the abandonment and subsequent damage to the ship after being left on the shores of Picton. The historical society eventually purchased the ship hull from The New Zealand Refrigerating Company LTD for the whopping price of 1 Schilling, and began to work of relocated, refloating and eventually dry docking this piece of maritime history.

You start your journey by going through the museum and watching movie about the history of the boat – I could have gotten lost for hours here, looking at the pieces recovered from the hull, the construction specifics and the stories shared.

Once you step outside you start to see the ship, and get a feel for the scale and size of her, as she is still a bit shielded from view by the covering over the dry dock bay.

There are lots of “bits and bobs” (anchors, and other remnants) splayed across the yard.

At the anchor you get your first view of the ship, as well as the pumping system that keeps the ship dry docked in it’s new home.

As you enter the ship area you have two choices, board the ship, or go underneath it into the ship bay. I decided to start by checking out the outside of the ship – the layers of wood under the deteriorating copper was something like an artwork, showing the effects of time, salt, wind and water on the majestic hull of this ship.

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Once I had walked around underneath and around the hull, I went back up to the ships entrance, and got to explore the inside of this ship.

The ship had 2 decks, the hold and the top deck. The top deck had been arranged to show you what the ship would have been like for its various uses, and what living on the ship would be like. The thing that stuck with me was the steerage class bunks – that were tiny as is, but were where an entire family – most often a Man, Woman and 4 children or so lived. Talk about cramped and gross conditions – it was very easy to see how disease could spread. There were also models of the convict areas as well.

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You also get to venture down into the hold, and this was where you could see much of the hidden damage that occurred due to the ship being left on the shore, and even more insight into the layered construction of these ships.

I had a lovely time exploring the ship and museum, and finished before my alarm, so that was good. I wandered back to the hostel to repack my bag for the bus journey, and then wandered to the bus stop. While there, I went to take a picture of Mini-fig Merry with the luggage, and was reminded of another picture I took with the same set up, in Amsterdam at the train station as I got ready to board my overnight train to Switzerland in 2015 on my grand European adventure. This got me to thinking about the places this luggage has traveled, and I did some quick math, and discovered that this luggage has traveled almost 40,000 miles, and will definitely cross that threshold this trip!

The bus arrived right on schedule, sadly, it was not the lovely Intercity bus with wifi, but a sub bus, so a bit old and less comfy, but workable for the short trip to Nelson.

The trip was uneventful – and the scenery driving through New Zealand was stunning, as usual.

I arrived in Nelson, walked a few blocks and checked into my hostel. Once I was situated, I decided to go out and explore Nelson, on a very sleepy Sunday when most everything was closed. In my wanderings I discovered it was Nelson Beer Week, so I took note of a few events, then wandered around the city, ending up at the Christ Church Cathedral – and attending their Sunday Night worship service before heading back to the hostel and an early bed time before my fun school visits this week.

 

 

A day in Picton – a tramp to Bob’s Bay, Ships Cove, Dolphins and delivering mail by boat.

I got up the morning to a beautiful sunshiny day. I got dressed and headed next door to the famous Picton Village Bakkerij (filled with Dutch treats), which I just knew I had to visit in honor of my friend Simone. I grabbed a coffee, a breakfast pie, a vegetable cheese bread for lunch and a dessert treat before heading on my way. I had no plan for the morning, and only had to be back to the harbor to catch my Mail Cruise by 1:15.

I decided I would follow one of the shorter “tramping” trails and venture out to Bob’s Bay. It proved to be a great choice!

I started by walking across the harbor and across the harbor bridge, then set out along the opposite side of the harbor for the start of the trail. I was amazed by some of the boats in the harbor – there were “boats” with boats on them – actually yachts with smaller yachts in some cases.

Once at the trail, I was faced with a choice, the high route of the low route. Both were said to take about 30 minutes, but the low route came with a disclaimer about not being good for kids due to bluffs and cliffs – which translated to me as great views, so I went with the lower. It was beautiful, but they were not kidding about being right by the cliffs – I would not want to be walking with a child on that path – thus the warnings – I even made a stop to grab a trusty hiking stick for myself, just in case. . Still – the views made it clear that I made the right choice – while I enjoy tramping through the bush – the sea views on this trail were amazing.

The trail was quick, and not terribly difficult, and I made it to Bob’s Bay, where I was rewarded with a beach to myself for quite sometime – I sat, enjoyed my picnic lunch and just enjoyed watching the various boats, ferries, kayaks and other vessels pass by as the waves lapped on the shore.

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Once my alarm went off to go back for my next activity, I headed back on the trail, and crossed back over the bridge to check in for my next adventure, a ride on the Mail Boat through Queen Charlotte Sound. At this point the clouds had taken over a bit, and the sky was spitting rain, but hey – whats a little bit of rain on the sea, right?

We departed on time, and our guide was a stitch – he had funny stories about the area, about his mail delivery experiences, and the local history. I started at the top of the boat for the view, but as we were heading out into the coves rather fast, got chilly and went downstairs for a bit, returning to the top at key points to see birds, dolphins and great scenery. Check out these Hector’s Dolphins we saw:

 

Hector’s Dolphins are small (only about 1 meter) and found only in New Zealand – they are also highly endangered.

Once the mail delivery started, it was less fast and windy, so I spent more time up at the top, just savoring the view of this beautiful part of the world.

For some perspective, and so you can see the lay of the land, here is a screen shot of the area we cruised through.

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About 1/2 way through the cruise, we journeyed to Ship’s Cove, most famous for being a landing area and refuge for one Captain Cook. We were able to get off the boat here, and learn a little about the history of this area before continuing on our journey.

We delivered more mail, then headed back to Picton.

At this point it was quite wet and chilly, so I decided that I would go grab dinner before going back to the hostel, and what better to warm me up that some Irish Stew at the pub – while it was March 18th for me – it was still (sort-of) March 17th in the states, so I just celebrated a bit late here.

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Tomorrow is Sunday, and I get to journey to Nelson for my exciting week of school visits. I have a few hours before my bus departs in the afternoon, so who knows what fun I will find before I head out.

Going to the South Island – but not really South!

My first trip to the South Island began this morning with a crossing on the Bluebridge Ferry. The ferry left at 8:00 AM with check-in at 7:15. Julian was kind enough to drop me off, so that I didn’t have to walk, uber or do the bus with my luggage, which was so helpful. Ferry check-in was very straight forward and easy, and before I knew it we were boarding the boat.

The ferry crossing between the North and South Island can be quite “spewy” in the words of my Kiwi friend Rachel, and I was concerned that would be the case this morning, however, I wanted to cross the strait by ferry at least once, so here I went.

Fortunately for me, it was a GORGEOUS day for a boat ride, and I didn’t even need to worry about any motion sickness.

This was indeed the gorgeous crossing it had been hyped up to be. You start the crossing by viewing the beauty that is Wellington as you exit the harbor, then you head to the South Island to the little port town of Picton (which isn’t really south of Wellington, btw), deep within the coves and islands of Queen Charlotte Sound.

 

Once you cross the open water, you are rewarded with views of cliffs, rocks, mussel and salmon farms, and just stunning unaltered water views. It was fantastic.

 

Once I arrived in Picton, I caught the shuttle to the ferry terminal, then retrieved my bags and checked into the hostel. It was in a good location, was clean, and would definitely work for a few nights – sadly – the “spa” was out of order, but I think I will survive.

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The Hostel

I had pre-booked a wine tasting in Blenheim for the afternoon with NaClachen wine tours, http://www.naclachan.co.nz/ and it was indeed lovely. We visited several wineries, and I appreciated the regional variety in the Marlborough region wines. I am finding that each wine region in NZ has a distinctive style – and I am relishing trying them all.

 

After the wine tour, they dropped me back at the hostel, and I wandered around the very small town of Picton, enjoyed a waterfront dinner and sunset, and headed back to the hostel to chill and plan my day for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I am taking a Mail Cruise (where they literally deliver the mail to the residents in the coves) but have some time before that, so I believe I will take a little journey to Bob’s Bay (about a 30 minute tramp along the Picton harbor entrance.

Tuesday at TePapa

So, I knew I felt icky when I did the Parking Day adventure, but I tried to blame it on being tired from the bus. On Saturday, when I woke up with a fever, I couldn’t blame it on the bus anymore (well, maybe I caught it on the bus, but you know what I mean).

Looking out the window at the gross rainy Wellington day, it was not hard to determine what I would be doing for the day – I stayed in my PJs and pulled up Netflix – which thankfully worked in New Zealand – I wasn’t certain it was going to, and was so thankful when it pulled right up. I watched The Crown, which I had seen a few episodes of before I left the States, and really just spent the day relaxing, drinking hot tea and water and napping. I had a very sore throat, but nothing else – so I was pretty sure it was just a virus. Sunday I got up and while I had no fever, I still felt a bit icky – and the weather was still gross, so I decided that another day of relaxing was probably a good choice.

By Sunday night I was feeling much better, although I had lost my voice a bit.

Monday I worked at the Uni – emailing professors, teachers and other folks I wanted to make it out to visit, as well as doing some research in the library. It was a good, productive day after a lazy weekend.

Tuesday morning I spoke to my Reinhardt Session 2 class for the first time – I am excited about working with them this session. After my RU class I headed to the Wellington Library to meet with a secondary school design teacher who I am so excited to visit at her college in a few weeks.

After an exhilarating meeting and sharing of ideas, I headed over to Te Papa so that iI could see the Whiti Te Rā! The story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira exhibit before it closed on Friday. This exhibit told all about the history of Ngāti Toa Rangatira, the local iwi (tribe) in the Wellington region and the top of the South Island – it was fascinating. No pictures are allowed, but you can read more about it here on Te Papa’s website.

Most interestingly was the part talking about the Kapa Haka and the development of this, which has become a popular symbol of Maori culture, made famous by the NZ Rugby team, the All Blacks. Ka Mate is the traditional Haka, and recently the All Blacks have written their own. You can hear and see them both here, and read a little about the change here.

After I finished exploring the history of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira iwi, I ventured to teh very cool Te Papa Meeting house – Te Hono ki Hawaiki, called a modern Marae – it was stunning, artsy and beautiful. Check out the link above to learn more about the process.

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I still had about an hour before Te Papa closed, and decided that I would do the Bug Lab exhibit, which is one of the paid special exhibits. As luck would have it, I picked the perfect time to go, because after 5:00 in March they are offering $5 off of admission. I explored the world of bugs, checked out the handiwork of Weta Workshop and played a bit. Totally fun!

One of my favorite parts was this interactive exhibit that showed a pūtōrino and talked about how the different voices (child, male and female) are created depending on how it is played. It was fascinating. The picture of the pūtōrino is below, and below that, is a video of me pushing each button for you to hear the sound.

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If you are still interested in more, check out http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/interactive/42157/playing-the-putorino.

TePapa is quickly becoming one of my favorite places in Wellington.

Tomorrow I head to a primary school for what promises to be a fun and exciting day.

Hīnātore, PARKing Day and Skyping with Schools

After I had recovered from my night bus ride, it was back to work for me, scheduling schools, booking ferry rides, buses, hostels and flights for school visits and responding to emails. I finished my work, then headed out to attend a neat event that my awesome landlord shared with me, The City as a School Learning Event at the Hīnātore Learning Lab at the Te Papa Museum. The event was sponsored by the Learning Environment Australasia NZ Chapter. Hīnātore staff shared the space with us, and talked about their lesson development and what they were doing to encourage learning for all in this space. I was fascinated, and excitedly had conversations with staff, and have since scheduled a visit to spend the day with them, so you will hear more then. I have decided that in my next life I would love to work in a science center or museum and curate exhibits and design cool learning experiences for a non-traditional learning environment. How fun would that be?

I made some great connections, exchanged business cards and then went back to the house for dinner and to catch-up with the Ludbrooks.

Not fully recovered from my night bus experience, it was definitely an early to bed night.

Friday morning I woke up early, because I had a Skype date with some of my awesome Carmel Colts – and the time difference is not friendly for that.

I enjoyed chatting with some of my 4th graders, and hope to get a chance to catch up with more students soon.

After that, I sent some emails, wrote up some school observation notes, and had lunch, before it was time to Skype with Sixes Elementary at their STEAM Parent and Student night. It was fun chatting with the parents and students, as well as the staff, my former students who were volunteering at the event, and even Dr. Hightower (our Superintendent of Schools in Cherokee). Skype truly is amazing and I am so thankful for it making these 8,000 – plus miles seem a little less distant when I can talk to people and feel like that are sitting at the same table as I am – almost.

All of that done, I set out to explore PARKing Day. Parking Day as you will see in the link, is typically an annual event that takes place on the 3rd Friday in September – which is great for the northern hemisphere people, but in Wellington, no one really wants to spend the day outside at that time. Parking Day is a day where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

Julian, one of my hosts, has played a vital role in the organization of the Wellington PARKing Day as a member of the Wellington Sculpture Trust, so I was excited to see his work come to fruition, and I was not disappointed. I spent several hours walking up and down Cuba Street, checking out the spaces and talking to the artists. To read more about the day: http://www.sculpture.org.nz/news-and-events/park(ing)-day-wellington-10317.

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Rainy Rotorua

When I got back from Hobbiton, I grabbed lunch – being adventurous, I went into a Korean restaurant – and the menu was mostly in Korean, with some minimal translation – so I ordered a pork dish – which ended up being a “cook at your own table” pork dish, which was really cool – it came with 6 different sides (kimchi, cucumbers, eggplant, etc) – It was quite delightful, and I was glad to have taken the chance.

After lunch, I decided I would take a wander through the Government Gardens and Heritage Trail in Rotorua, then make the trek around the Sulfur Lake Path to check out some thermal activity.

The walk started out cloudy, but quite nice.

I stumbled upon the Sculpture Trail – neat art – cool descriptions. I tried to find the program online, and failed, but there is a pdf of the descriptions below the collage for those of you that like to look at art work and their descriptions.

Sculpture Trail Descriptions

After finishing the trail I checked out flowers, buildings and thermal pools: