Road Trip – Days 2 and 3 – Hawkes Bay

I woke up early in Dannevirke, and hit the road to head towards Napier.

My first, rather long detour (quite appropriately, actually) was to the longest place name in the world, a hill called Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu. The locals call it Taumata, as you can imagine that spitting out that whole name would take quite a while.

It is roughly translated as the The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his  puterino (flute) to his loved one, a brother who passed away. If you zoom in on the picture you can read the story there.

After this, I continued on my journey through the lovely and scenic Hawkes Bay – passing through lots of farm land and wine country.

I made a few stops to admire the landscape, then checked into my hotel in Napier – which was quite lovely.

One stop was just to capture this crazy hedge:

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Once I was settled in at my hotel and ready to explore, I headed to the Bluff Hill Lookout, which promised views and a lookout over the port. The wind was fierce, and there was a bit of rain, but I did manage to get a few pictures and not blow away. On a prettier day,  I could have watched the works at the port for hours, I think.

I left the lookout, and descended down into the town of Napier, an Art Deco style town, due to an earthquake that decimated the town in the 30’s.

I decided that I would stroll along the boardwalk, and just see what I could discover, as there were gardens and other features along the way.

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Once I had had enough of the cold, wind and rain, I grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel.

The next day was my Hawkes Bay wine tour. I was picked up early in the morning, and had the tour guide to myself for the entire morning.

We started by heading up to Te Mata peak – which gave lovely views of the Hawkes Bay region – in between the foggy cloud cover – unfortunately, most of my pictures are after the fog rolled back in. The hang glider launch points made me laugh, and terrified me at the same time. I will do lots of things – but I am pretty certain I AM NOT that brave!

After that we headed to our first winery, Black Barn – which had a phenomenal Riesling – I am trying to save it to bring home. . . We will see. . .

I love the scenery of wineries!

The next stop was my favorite winery of the day I think – but that maybe because the lady running the tasting thought I was “charming” – it is totally the southern accent y’all – and gave me extra to taste – which panned out, because I made sure to find out howto buy their wine back in the states, and got a little bit of wine to take with me as well.

After this, I got to go to the Arataki Honey company store, which had tasters of different types of honey, as well as cool displays on the process for getting honey in New Zealand – the science teacher in me enjoyed it very much! Also, I had no idea there were so many unique honey flavors! Wow!

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After the honey store, it was time for lunch, at a winery – y’all – they know how to do a yummy spread at the NZ wineries.

After lunch we picked up some others to join the tour, all Brits here for the Lions Rugby tour. They were a fun bunch, and it was nice to chat, compare travel notes and laugh along with them as we tasted wines the rest of the afternoon.

Around 5:00 I was dropped off at my hotel, and obviously wasn’t driving anywhere, so I ordered a pizza and relaxed for the rest of the evening in my hotel room (and watched Survivor NZ).

My Last Few Weeks in Wellington

So, my last few weeks in Wellington were quite exciting, but I was also super busy wrapping up my official Fulbright work. I spent so much time writing I just couldn’t bring myself to blog – so I am behind – but I have lots of fun stuff to share with you all – so this post will be pretty long. (and has lots of “different” stuff in it!)

Matariki Celebrations: 

I know I mentioned Matariki in my last post, as I was making the stars as a part of that celebration, and the festivities continued.

I went to a lovely event hosted by Te Papa focused on Matariki. It was the first time they had done this event, but they were laying down the tradition for years to come. You can see more here: https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/learn/matariki-maori-new-year/matariki-ritual

I really encourage you to watch the video – such a cool celebration of a new year and renewal.

Another really interesting cultural event I attended was Te Oro o ngā Whetū: The Echo of the Stars – a performance sponsored by the Chamber Orchestra of New Zealand, and featuring New Zealand String Quartet, ngātaonga puoro artist Alistair Fraser, Te Reo Māori performer and composer Ariana Tikao, and students from Virtuoso Strings Orchestra.

The music was hauntingly beautiful, and thanks to the use of taonga puoro (Traditional Maori Musical practices) was just a fascinating experience.

Here is a small snippet of what I was able to experience:

They also had some really neat Maori culture as TePapa played host to the Kaumātua Kapa Haka – an event featuring over 500 Maori Elders. It was beautiful – and if you want to really be moved, check it out – the diversity of the performers and the passion they have for this beautiful art is a experience to be had!

https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/learn/matariki-maori-new-year/matariki-festival-2017/matariki-festival-2017-highlights/watch

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Fulbright Work and Celebrations

As I mentioned, I have done lots of writing the past few weeks, and my Fulbright work is complete, with just a few logistics before I can share it on a broader scale, which is super exciting.

I did my final presentation on June 16th at Victoria University, and we had a Fulbright NZ Awards ceremony at Parliament on June 19th. It was a great celebration!

You can see more pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/fulbrightnz/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155657128310982 

General Wellington Fun

I did lots of exploring Wellington as well – nice breaks to clear my head and walk around were much needed! Some of these are quite random pictures, but they all tell the story of my Wellington experience, so check out the captions for more info!

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Gallipoli Exhibit

I have made several trips to TePapa, and love the museum, but had not been in the right place to do the Gallipoli exhibit justice on previous visits, so on a rainy afternoon I went across the street to experience this powerful exhibition, which was done by the team at Weta, and is called the “Scale of our War”. The exhibit features larger than life images of the war – made with stunning accuracy and detail. My pictures do not do the exhibit justice, fortunately they do have great images on their website. You can also learn more about the creation of the exhibit and the stories behind those rendered.

Images are below, but please be warned they are a bit graphic.

I also visited the “Quake Breaker” exhibit – which was fascinating to see how they stabilize a huge building like TePapa in an earthquake prone area.

There will be another blog post dedicated to Matui/Somes Island – I just couldn’t bring myself to crowd this one anymore.