Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Archive for the ‘Wellington’ Category

New Zealand 2019 Day 4: Wellington, Dockside Restaurant

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 9, 2019

Just a quick post to showcase the delicious meal we had at Dockside Restaurant on the waterfront.

We got a bit wet getting there, but it was worth it.

The most interesting wine of the night was The Hay Paddock Syrah from Waiheke Island.  It was a full-flavoured red wine rather like a Barossa red, which is not what you expect from a cool-climate region like NZ!


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Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Dining out, Wellington | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

New Zealand 2019 Day 4: Te Papa Museum

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 9, 2019

After the disappointment of Katherine Mansfield’s house being closed for renovation, things improved.

Yesterday we’d made a brief visit to the Te Papa Museum, which is a modern purpose-built museum opened in 1998.  It is, alas, rather like the Melbourne Museum in concept, that is, there are vast areas of empty space to cross before you actually get anywhere.  I have no idea why anyone thinks this is a good idea.  These modern museums are obviously designed with children in mind and little legs get tired.  There are also lifts that don’t operate on all floors so you have to get out of the one cunningly placed next to the shop and then find the other one.  You do a lot of walking without actually seeing anything…

Anyway, the first exhibit is on Level 2, and it’s about New Zealand’s experience of Gallipoli, so we dutifully visited that and then went upstairs to Level 3 where I was keen to see the Suffrage 125 Exhibition.  To say that it was disappointing is an understatement.  Kate Sheppard is a bit of a hero of mine, and she should be a hero for women around the world because she spearheaded the campaign for NZ women to be the first in the world to get the vote.  But she barely got a mention and I know no more about her now than I did before.  The exhibition is what they call a ‘pop-up’ exhibition, and this is a description of what was there from EventFindaCoNZ:

To honour Suffrage 125, Te Papa curators have initiated a special collecting project, sourcing contemporary items related to women’s rights. Recent acquisitions include a breast pump from former Green MP and writer Holly Walker, the NopeSisters T-shirt which addresses sexual abuse, a menstrual cup from MyCup, a company committed to ending period poverty, a suit worn by Dame Jenny Shipley on her first day in office as New Zealand’s first-ever female Prime Minister, and Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban’s puletasi (formal Sāmoan outfit) which she wore to give her maiden speech as New Zealand’s first Pacific Island female Member of Parliament.

IMO If this is the best that New Zealand’s National Museum can do to honour a notable woman, then they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

So then we visited the Blood Earth Fire, Transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand exhibition.  This was huge, taking up nearly the whole floor, and was basically about the impact of humans on the land.

Level 4, which we visited today, was much more to our taste.  We started off with the Treaty Of Waitangi exhibits.  When you first walk in you are confronted by a massive replica of the document—it reaches from floor to ceiling.  Beside it on the wall is a large printed version of what was agreed… which was basically that the Maori ceded sovereignty but got to keep their land.  (And as we all know, it didn’t work out that way at all.)

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But as you progress round the exhibits (which include some of the original gifts that were exchanged as a sign of respect) you learn that actually there are multiple copies of the treaty, because it was copied and different copies of it were taken to sites (that you can see on the map of NZ) for all the chiefs to sign. (Some did, quite a lot didn’t).  In the process the copies got shabby, and the documents weren’t properly preserved and now they are all damaged, much like the one you can see in the cabinet.

This exhibition was interesting to us because it exposes some of the mythology surrounding Australia’s failure to negotiate a treaty.  It is said that in contrast to the disunity amongst Australia’s Indigenous People, the Maori chiefs were united and that made a treaty possible.  Well, clearly, they weren’t all united.   And then, obviously the treaty wasn’t respected anyway, not even enough to keep it safe from damage…

There is a huge exhibition of Maori history and culture on this floor, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed to photograph any of it, and I couldn’t buy postcards or an exhibition catalogue.  However, I can show you a link to the contentious Maori wharenui which is a remarkable artefact.  A wharenui is a meeting house, and this one was apparently removed from its original site without permission and the iwi (tribe) wants it back.  This may be the reason why the signage is inadequate: if you take off your shoes you can go inside it, but there’s nothing to explain the significance of the architecture or the symbolic meanings of the carvings, not even in the digital video outside it.  (I hate those things, I read much quicker than most people do, and it’s really annoying to have to stand and wait while they finish reading and turn the page).

There was also a stunning longboat, and models of the impressive boats that were used for the Maori voyages from Polynesia about 800 years ago—but we couldn’t photograph those either so you’ll just have to imagine them.

However, the museum has a modern version of a wharenui which belongs to everyone, they say, and I’ve found a Wikipedia picture of that:

On the same floor there is a Passports exhibition which is a bit like Melbourne’s Immigration Museum in concept.  Unfortunately the lighting isn’t conducive to taking good photos, but here’s a little slideshow of items that caught my eye:

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Tonight we’re going to Dockside Restaurant which is close by and therefore an ideal choice for tired feet, and tomorrow we are taking the train to Palmerston North. I gather that the main attraction there is a rugby museum, but I’m sure we’ll find something else to amuse ourselves, and I’m expecting the scenery en route to be gorgeous.

Photo credit:

Modern wharenui: by Allie_Caulfield from Germany – 2001-12-02 01-03 Neuseeland 152, CC BY 2.0,

Museum Entrance: by rheins, CC BY 3.0,

Kate Sheppard: By Book written by William Sidney Smith (1852-1929) but unclear whether he was photographer – From Outlines of the women’s franchise movement in New Zealand (1905) by William Sidney Smith (1852-1929). See File: Outlines of the women’s franchise movement in New Zealand.djvu, Public Domain,

Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Museums, Wellington | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

New Zealand 2019 Day 4: A bookish moment… that wasn’t

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 9, 2019

Yesterday at the Te Papa Museum we picked up the brochure for Katherine Mansfield’s House, and today we checked the days and hours of opening, and found a taxi to take us there for a very special literary pilgrimage.

Here I am outside the house, all excited by the Bookish Moment.  (And impressed that a taxi slowed down so that his vehicle wouldn’t block Tim taking a photo from the other side of the road!)


The gates were locked.  Impenetrably locked.

We got out the brochure and rang the number, only to discover that the site is closed for renovation and wouldn’t be open again till Spring.


Now, I don’t mind them closing it, and since it’s the Off Season here in NZ, this is the best time to do it.

But why promote it with brochures in tourist venues if it’s not open?

I took some photos of Wellington houses so that it wasn’t an entirely wasted trip:

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Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Historic buildings, LitLovers pilgrimage, Wellington | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

New Zealand 2019 Day 3: Jano Bistro Wellington

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 8, 2019

In 2015 Jano Bistro was runner-up for the best new restaurant in New Zealand – and I can’t imagine how good the winner must have been because this restaurant is one of the best I’ve ever eaten in…

(And that includes Shannon Bennett’s Vue de Monde and Lumé in Melbourne; Rules in Covent Garden in London; and Les Hautes de Loire in France).

Jano is a tiny little restaurant so we booked in advance (from Australia).  We strolled up from our hotel through Cuba Street (Wellington’s ‘Bohemia’) and found Jano’s in what looks like a small house at 270 Willis St.  The service was welcoming and friendly, and our waiter took pride in explaining the degustation menu in the kind of detail that we appreciate.

An impressive aspect of this menu is that it’s a gourmet vegetarian menu… designed, that is, to be a splendid, complex feast of vegetarian flavours, to which a protein (fish, seafood, poultry, beef) can be added if desired.  As vegetarians will know, most fine dining restaurants might feature one, or at the most two, vegetarian dishes, but they are usually an afterthought and nothing special.  The menu at Jano’s is the very opposite of that: it celebrates vegetables, fruits and herbs, and the protein is a complement, not the dominant feature of the dish.

Here, without further ado, are our photos from the 8 course menu, but eagle-eyed readers will notice that I forgot to take a photo of the dish that heroed celeriac: Celeriac with fresh ceps, fishless soup and Mirror Dory.  It’s a shame because it was pretty as a picture and it tasted delicious.

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The dish of the day, IMO, was the pear and muesli, with Manuka honey and rosemary. It sounds bizarre for a dessert, but it was divine. Tim’s favourite was the Hangi Potato with oyster mushrooms, onions and sourdough, a superb blending of culinary cultures as our waiter said!

Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Dining out, Wellington | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

New Zealand 2019: Day 3 Wellington Museums

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 8, 2019

The weather continues benign, and I have yet to suffer what is called the Wellington Hairdo:

We took a stroll along the waterfront en route to the Wellington Museum, and admired other examples of Kiwi humour:

We also liked a retaining wall that featured memorials of one sort or another.  I liked the one to the Shaw Savill Line because that’s the line on which I sailed to Australia and although it’s not the classiest ocean liner of my childhood travels, it did get me to the right place to make a wonderful home. Here’s the slideshow:

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So then we got to the museum, said (by someone, Lonely Planet?) to be among the best 50 museums in the world.  It is just the kind of museum I like: with interesting exhibits, lots of good signage, not dependent on pressing digital interactive stuff that is mostly rubbish and not what you wanted to know anyway.   It’s definitely among my best-ever museums too.

On the ground floor there’s a chronological circuit which takes you through the 20th century in Wellington.  It has some surprising exhibits: I’ve never before seen any exhibits about conscientious objectors but this museum features Alexander Baxter, and it acknowledges that it takes courage to stand up for your beliefs when everyone else is against them.

There’s also a banner for Nuclear Free Wellington, which as our tour guide Dean said yesterday was a no-brainer given New Zealand’s propensity for earthquakes. (BTW I have no idea why they’ve put a woman sweeping the floor next to the sign, there wasn’t any signage to explain it.)

It’s always pleasing to see a city’s literary and artistic history being included in a museum’s exhibits.  Here’s the slideshow:

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Having read so recently at home about the battle for women’s suffrage, I was impressed yesterday when our tour guide drew our attention to Kate Sheppard Place which acknowledges her role in the NZ campaign which led to New Zealand women being the first in the world to get the vote.  And with what we now recognise as typical Kiwi humour he pointed out that this little street is between two pubs, which might not have amused Sheppard who was (like many of the suffragists) a temperance campaigner as well.

However in the Wellington museum, all that we could find about her was this enigmatic statue, and her name among other notable Kiwi women on a tapestry.  (You probably won’t be able to read the names, but they include Jean Batten the aviator; Katherine Mansfield (author); Helen Clark (first female PM of NZ); Jacinda Ardern (of course!); Jane Campion (film director); Patricia Grace (author) and other names I don’t know but will look up in due course.

All up it’s a jolly good museum, and highly recommended.

To finish off, here we are having lunch at the Crab Shack!

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Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Dining out, Museums, Wellington | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

New Zealand 2019 Day 2: Wellington Bus Tour – Mt Victoria Lookout & Botanic Gardens

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 7, 2019

As everyone knows, Wellington has a reputation for being very windy, with cold southerlies, often accompanied by lashings of rain.  But we have been blessed with beautiful weather, mild and sunny with a gentle breeze—and we know how lucky we are because we were told so by our tour bus driver.

As we usually do in cities we haven’t visited before, we took an orientation tour with Hop On Hop Off Guided Tours and our guide Dean was a mine of information about all sorts of things.  He says that Wellington owes its beautiful greenery to Australia, because as the hot air from the Red Centre makes its way across the Tasman Sea, any moisture evaporates—until it makes landfall and dumps it all as rain on Wellington. The forecast suggests that we might find out more about the wind tomorrow but for now it was a perfect day for visiting the Mt Victoria Lookout, with its 360° vistas all over the heart of Wellington.  The drive up there was interesting too because the narrow winding road features very pretty houses, mostly NZ timber, in what is said to be 1930s Californian styles.

Here’s the slideshow from the lookout:

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After that it was back on the bus, past the zoo and the Cuba Quarter—”the heart of Bohemian Wellington”, with cafés, bakeries, breweries and boutique shops.  (Wellingtonians are nearly as obsessive about their coffee as Melburnians are).

Wellington Cable Car 1We got off at the Wellington Cable Car and I just managed to get a shot of it before it took off down the mountain.  It’s actually a funicular railway, (so you’re never actually suspended in space) and Dean pointed out half a dozen private versions of funiculars going up and down the steep slopes from private houses.   But this one is a public one that commuters can take to work in the CBD if they want to.

There’s a Cable Car museum there too, but we admired only the lookout, and then took the walk down the pathway to the Botanic Gardens.

It was gorgeous.  Right in the centre of the city it was blissfully peaceful and quiet.  The style of gardens is traditional, and many of the plants are recognisable as exotics brought over by early settlers, but there are also unusual and endangered species.  Here’s the slideshow:


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The path curves round past the Lady Norwood rose garden, which is beautiful, but unfortunately protected from anyone getting close enough to smell the scent.  Lady Norwood and her Charles husband were great philanthropists: a self-made man, he funded all kinds of public amenities including a free ambulance service and a crippled children society.  When I Googled images of the rose garden the beds weren’t roped off as they were today, so maybe they’ve just sprayed with something?

We had the kind of lunch you expect to get in tourist venues like this, but Tim said his coffee lived up to the hype:).  It is getting harder and harder to get a nice sandwich for lunch: everything has got mayo and/or cheese all over it; you get masses of spinach instead of crisp lettuce; and everything has to be heated up (yuk) because it was made the night before and kept cold in a fridge.  Worst of all is that you can’t personalise these pre-made monstrosities: you can’t ask for No Dairy, or Pepper no Salt, or anything else.  It’s starting to make me grateful for Subway except that their bread is so soggy.  It’s a trend I hope will go away, it’s prevalent in Australia too.

OK, off my soapbox!

After lunch we strolled across to the Peace Park, created in memory of the atomic bombing of Japan in WW2.


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After that we sat idly in the sunshine, until the bus collected us for the last part of the tour. We saw the famous Beehive parliamentary building; the cenotaph; Old St Paul’s Cathedral (which fell victim to an earthquake safety notice*) and the Wellington and Te Papa museums which are on the agenda for tomorrow.

*NZ, as no doubt you know, suffers a lot of earthquakes, some of them catastrophic as at Christchurch. But fatalities are very rare here in Wellington because all new buildings have to withstand quakes as high as 9.5, and older ones are inspected after every quake and if the engineers say so, they have to be closed until they are re-engineered and declared safe. If they can’t be made safe, too bad if they have heritage values, they are pulled down because, they reckon, human life matters more.

Still, it is a bit unnerving to check out Wellington Quake Live and discover that the last quake was about five hours ago, just after we got on the bus. It was only about 2.1 on the Richter Scale, but still we have discussed the DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON strategy as advised in the hotel brochure and we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Gardens, Wellington | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

New Zealand 2019 Day 1: Wellington

Posted by Lisa Hill on May 6, 2019

Well, here we are in Wellington!

We had an uneventful flight (always the best kind of flight to have IMO) and an even more uneventful drive to our hotel.  From what we’ve seen of ‘peak-hour traffic’, Wellingtonians have nothing to complain about.

Our home away from home is the U Residence on Wakefield Street, a well-appointed self-catering apartment right in the centre of town.  It’s also very close to the harbour, so we took a stroll along the waterfront en route to buy some supplies for breakfast tomorrow.

We’ve also found what appears to be a congenial Italian restaurant and we’ll check it for dinner tonight.

#Little Known Fact: you know the little walking men on pedestrian lights?  Here, the little red man is doing a Maori Haka, and the little green one is a woman swaying in one of those beaded Maori skirts.

Update (later on)

We had a delicious dinner at Fratelli on Blair Street.  For entrée, we had vodka infused salmon bruschetta with  salmon roe, and for mains Tim had veal scallopini and I had risotto with venison, washed down with a Santorini Primitivo.

These are not great photos, which may be the effect of the Martini I had before dinner.


Posted in 2019 New Zealand, Dining out, Wellington | Tagged: | 6 Comments »