From October 1st to January 19th, I was based in Wellington – the capital city of New Zealand, where I made my home, most of the time, in a comfy room overlooking the beautiful harbour. But I did venture out from my cozy nest to see and do and house and pet sit during this time. I also took in several fun events in the city. Here is a recap with lots of photos of just some of what I saw and did!
First – WOW® – the World of Wearable Art® is a renowned international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries from all over the world. Finalists compete for over $165,000 in prize money plus internships with leading creative companies such as the Weta Workshop. The annual WOW show was one of the main reasons I had to get to Wellington by October 1st!
Tickets were pricey and my seat, though ok, was on the side and I had to turn my neck in such a weird way to be able to see the stage that I ended up with a very sore neck for the next 2 weeks! But was it worth it – you bet!
|WOW Museum Bathroom|
WOW originated in Nelson on the South Island but soon outgrew a site large enough to hold the growing number of attendees and the bigger productions so eventually it was moved to Wellington. But Nelson is still home to The WOW Museum, the only place to see the costumes up close. I arranged a trip to Nelson before I went to Blenheim for a housesit.
I arrived before the museum opened and was the first – and for at least an entire hour – the only person in the museum! And yes, my fingers did a little bit of illegal touching and feeling 🙂
Here’s the LINK to their website which includes a fantastic video from past shows showcasing the amazing costumes, music, dance and history! I noted that their first-ever traveling show has now departed Seattle and is will be based from February 18 – June 11th at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. If you can possible make your way there, you won’t be disappointed!
But before I departed Nelson I had to take a picture of one of their mailmen. Love the transport and the uniforms. Of course, they have mail-women as well, all with great thigh and calf muscles! I also toured their beautiful Cathedral and interviewed the members of woman-owned, women-ran Papercut Patterns who I was asked to do an article about for a US-based sewing blog.
|The wonderful Owner (R) and Marketing Director (L) of Papercut Patterns|
From Nelson, I bused to Blenheim, for what was to be a 5-day house and petsit for Keisha, a lovely, elderly Golden Retriever.
Yvonne and Garry welcomed me with open arms into their lovely home, gifted me the use of their nice, big SUV and took off in their really nice RV for a camping vacation with their granddaughter. When they returned they asked if I wouldn’t mind staying on for another 6 days so they could go to Christchurch to catch-up with friends who were visiting from overseas – of course, I said yes. Who would turn down the opportunity to stay in a beautiful home, have access to a fully-stocked fridge and a nice car to drive and go exploring? I was thrilled to find a cineplex that showed all first-run movies and had a ‘senior’ showing at 10:00 a.m. every day for $10 ($7.25US).
|Comfy living room With telly!|
During the time between Yvonne & Garry’s two trips, they made sure I got to have one of the South Island’s most well-known seasonal treats and a New Zealand delicacy – Whitebait.
These little, immature fishes swim in schools up and down the coastline and estuaries and even into the rivers where they the caught with mesh nets. As you can see, they are small. They are cooked by throwing them into a batter of eggs and milk and fried up in a ‘fritter’ – a fishy-tasting fritter that crunches. When I asked why they crunch, I was told it was the eyes! I thanked Garry & Yvonne for the right to say ‘Yes, I have eaten a whitebait fritter’ and then say ‘No thank you’ when asked if I would like another!
|This is what most of the area in and around Blenheim looks like!|
Blenheim is located in the heart of the international award-winning Marlborough wine region and I was so looking forward to tasting a few of their prize-winning sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, and pinot noirs!
After a lovely chat with a woman at the local iSite (info center) I got signed up for an all-day, guided tasting tour with Na Clachan Wine Tours. Yvonne and Garry gave their blessing for me to be gone for a day and Keisha said sure, I’ve got a very comfy outdoor kennel that I am happy to use while you are away.
Because New Zealand has very strict drinking and driving laws, the van from Na Clachan picked me up at the house at 9:30 a.m. By 10:00 a.m. I and my 3 lovely companions were sipping our first glasses of wine at Spy Valley Winery.
We sipped and spit and compared and tasted until 1:00 when we took a break for an absolutely delicious lunch at the Allan Scott Winery.
We dined outside in their wisteria-covered patio. The food was fabulous, we ordered 4 soup spoons and shared a bowl of amazing seafood chowder loaded with green-lipped mussels and then each of us had our own main course. I had fresh-caught salmon! Of course, we each had a glass of Allan Scott chilled-to-perfection sauvignon blanc to accompany our lunch.
By now I was ready for my afternoon nap only to learn that we had really just got started. The rest of the afternoon was spent touring and tasting (an average of 5 tastes per winery) at 5 more wineries! The last stop, Lawson’s Dry Hills Winery, had amazing wines and offered us 10 different tastings! By the time I was dropped back to the house at 5:30 p.m., Keisha realized that I was totally snockered and I knew exactly why it is necessary to leave the driving to the tour company.
I returned to Wellington a few days later via the InterIslander Picton Ferry, but it wasn’t long before I was off exploring again!
Next, I arranged to meet-up with a lovely woman I had co-house/pet sat with in Edinburgh, Scotland over a year ago. She and her husband, newly retired from Auckland, had purchased a lovely home on the Kapiti coast, an hour’s train ride north of Wellington in the town of Paraparaumu and invited me up for lunch on very wet and windy day.
|I love the NZ trains! Clean, on-time, reasonable prices and colorful!|
|At day at the beach and almost getting almost blown away while posing for a picture!|
Whew! Have you read enough for now? I think I will break this posting into two parts as I have so many more places and pictures to share with you.
So until next time……and I promise it won’t be too long until next time……