We Lost Teddy!!! – Auckland, New Zealand

Yesterday I packed up everything in the camper and we moved into a hotel for a few nights.  Then, at 2 am after both kids had woken up and taken forever to go back down, it dawned on me.  I haven’t seen Scarlet’s Teddy!!!  The Incredible Shrinking Teddy!  Her “First Teddy” from Grandma and Grandpa!

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We have been using this teddy from birth to show just how much she grows.  We did the same thing with our son and now Scarlet’s Teddy is gone.

Now, apparently my brain was actually functioning at this odd hour and I immediately remembered the last picture we had taken with the dynamic duo.

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We had been visiting the Weta Workshop (http://wetaworkshop.com/visit-us/workshop-tours/)  for a tour and some cool photos with the Troll.

We put Teddy down for the tour and never picked it up again!!!

Now again this is 2 am so there was nothing I could do about it, so I went back to bed and called first thing in the morning.

I called the gift shop, it seemed like the right place to start my search.  They were SO EXCITED when I called.  Apparently, they had been looking for us and were about to start a Facebook campaign (kinda wish they had, now that would have been cool!!).  There was something about Teddy getting around the shop but I didn’t understand what they meant at the time.  I enquired about overnight shipping it to the hotel and if it might arrive before he left for the airport (thankfully it was an evening flight home the next day!)  If there is any business that knows how to get something where it needs to be quick, I figured a prop studio would know how!

It would cost a whopping $8! (HAHA I would have paid soooooo much more than that).

That brings us to Today.  We waited until checkout and still no Teddy.  We paid for a few more hours and that got us our room until noon.

Still no Teddy.

All packed up and sitting in the “Lobby” and still no Teddy.

Dan, getting nervous about time, asked me when I thought it would arrive.  Being optimistic I said 1.  It will get here by 1.

A few false alarms (clean sheets got delivered) we finally saw our “Knight in Shining Armour” (Postal Truck) arrive and boy were we excited!!!

 

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Now we can head to the airport and I feel like the weight of the world has lifted!

Sheepworld – New Zealand

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Not to far north of Auckland, you can find a place called Sheepworld.

Now I know what your thinking.  “HA! Sheepworld!  Isn’t that ALL of New Zealand already?!?!”

Well, your kind of right.  Back in the early 1980s, there were over 70 million sheep.  The numbers have declined to about 27 million since though.

We’ve seen our share of sheep along the way and we through it would be a great day to actually learn about Sheep Farming.

There was a lot more to this place than just sheep though.

We found a whole farm full of pigs, ponies, goats, bunnies, alpaca, deer, cows…

Oh and birds.  Yeah.  Roland is not a big fan of most birds.  he enjoys pointing them out, seeing them from afar or approaching on his terms.

 

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This duck has the most perfect duck shadow, silly I know, but I just love it!

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However, when the birds are accustom to being fed by every single person holding a brown paper bag….

We tried to get Roland chasing the birds like a Dinosaur to scare them off.  Sometimes it worked.  This kid does not like birds!

You can buy these bags of food that is safe for the animals to eat.  Super cheap and lots of fun.  We had a great time feeding everyone.

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The thing that truly makes the Sheepworld is the show they run twice a day.  This is where you learn about farming.

We got to watch the sheep get rounded up and herded into the show barn.  It turns out there are two dogs.  The well-known dog that goes out, runs fast and silent, convincing the sheep where to go with nothing more than a stare.

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Then there is the loud guy.  Best for close quarters and great at getting the sheep to go places they would rather not.

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That’s this guy on the right.  A mix of English Fox Hound, Labrador and Whippit or Greyhound.  They are loud, fast and driven.

Enter in our new friend Teryn.

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She even got us working.  We helped to sort the sheep by colour.

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She taught us all about the markings used to keep track of gender, age, and ownership of each sheep. Then she sheared a sheep for us.  You can make some pretty good money sheering sheep but you gotta be fast, it’s piece work and hard work.

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After all that work, HA! we got rewarded with the cutest experience you could hope for on a sheep farm.  Just look at the enjoyment of Roland’s face!

 

We spend at least a few hours here with the show and wandering around.  So, we headed into the aptly named Farmer’s Wife Cafe.

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Dan said the Shephard’s Burger is quite possibly the best he has had yet (he didn’t know it was lamb either)

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Plenty for the kids to play with,  Roland gave Scarlet this one.  See the purple dress below?  I bought that one for Scalet.  I’m thinking First Birthday.

 

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We had a great day and now we drive back to Auckland.  We don’t have much planned for the rest of the trip.  We will go to an aquarium and generally hang around the area.

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Auckland Habour View

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I don’t think I have ever seen this many boats.

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I don’t know what it is but we get such a kick out of driving over a bridge.  Perhaps it’s Roland’s excitement.

 

 

Coromandel – New Zealand

After visiting Hot Water Beach we decided to take the scenic route around the top of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Named after the HMS Coromandel who landed here in 1820, the rugged nature of the peninsula has limited its potential growth, despite being relatively close to Auckland.

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We stayed the night and had breakfast in town before heading out towards and past Auckland.

 

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Sorry about the Google Image.  Apparently, we didn’t take any pictures at breakfast.

I have a love-hate relationship with cooking VS going out to eat.  I cook and it’s cheap vs the EXPENSIVE price of eating out. But, when we eat out we have some of the very best experiences and there are NO DISHES.

Today Roland had a blast with two ladies having tea.  He brought them magazines, cutlery and told them stories about feeding dolphins, swimming at the beach and anything else he could think of.  He generally bounced around and we all had a good laugh.
Scarlet worked on her crawling, pulling up to standing and I’m showing her how to use the couch to practice walking.  She shined her best smiles for the ladies and anyone else who dared to look at her.  She is such a ham for the attention.

We headed off in the direction of Auckland with the intentions of going right past.  We will leave the big city for another day.  For now, we are headed to “SheepWorld”!

 

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You say To Mata, I say Te Mata…

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Bugger!

We have such a hard time with pronouncing the names in both New Zealand and when we were in Australia.  We have taken to making up the names.  Puke Hole, for example.  Sorry.

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Thinking of home with these names.

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Massive number of ships

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Crazy Toll fees! (HAHA, someone should show this to the 407 at home)

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Interesting bridge

 

Getting into HOT WATER (Beach) – New Zealand

After leaving Hobbiton we headed out to the East Coast in search of the Hot Water Beach.

Located on the Coromandel Paninsula and known for having natural hot springs right under the sand at low tide, this would be an interesting way to spend a day at the beach.

Getting there is almost just as much fun too.  These mountains were definitely formed by volcanos (I’m guessing).  The area is quite remote and there are rest stops that double as an emergency helipad.

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Endless changing views

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Mountains to climb up and down

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Hair Pin Turns

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Clifs that threatin land slides

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Mirrors to see around the corner

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Don’t worry, the kids have a fantastic view too.

When you finally arrive at Hot Water Beach, you will see the beautiful beach from up high.  There are three different parking lots and I suggest you drive all the way to the farthest.  Here you will find a few resturants, cold showers and bathrooms.  There are also a few places to hire a shovel.  You might need one if you are early but there are so many people digging that you can grab a pool, pre dug, when others leave.  You can also simply use your hands, or anything you might have handy. (We brought a large serving spoon and a collander to dig our holes)

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Hot Water Beach

Pack a bag and get ready for a day at the beach!

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Roland took this photo, he’s stepping up his skills!

 

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Steaming hot water will help you forget about the 14C weather.

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Water seeps up  through the sand at up to 64C.  HOT!

Kid’s didnt seem too sure, lol.  Actually they had quite a bit of fun.  A word of caution, though.  The water in some pools is hotter than others and some of the water naturally coming up from the sand can get as hot as 64 decrees Celcius.

You CAN get a burn from this water!!!  Mind your children carfully!!

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Plenty of pools ready to go or simply dig your own.

Kids had a great time today, digging in the sand, splashing in the water and I even got a quick swim in the ocean.  We grabbed lunch at one of the local spots before heading out.

Roland knows how you might look if you actually need to find this sign!!! He is soooo tired.  Apparent we played way past nap time and he is in meltdown mode.  He was also super HANGRY too.

He is soooo tired.  We played way past nap time and he is in meltdown mode.  He was also super HANGRY too.

Bonus to traveling in the camper: you can get your food to go and eat in a quiet low stimulation environment.  Plus you have your own TV with his favourite movie already loaded!!!

 

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Roland’s 3rd Birthday – New Zealand

Today my little boy turns 3 and he says he’s not little anymore.  This independent, stubborn, social and loving kid is becoming a seasoned traveler before most of us have ever been on an airplane.  Travel can be hard on kids.  Long hours sitting in the car, disruption of the routine, new places every day, sleeping in new places, but he is thriving.  Learning new words, eating different foods, seeing new animals and experiencing the world around him in every possible way.  He is learning how to explore and push himself into new and exciting experiences.  This is why I travel with my kids (That and I like doing all those things too.)

Today we decided that the best gift we would give him was time.  Time to play.  Time to swim.  Time to eat.  Time to simply be a kid doing kid things.  That and eat cake.

So, we booked ourselves into the Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park for two nights and spent the whole (thankfully sunny and warm) day playing and doing whatever Roland wanted.

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Riding a bike

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Playing with toys

 

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Playing at the park

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Wearing his new Camera Shirt

 

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Getting excited over who know what.

Getting Daddy a coffee and drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows.

And last but not least.  Eating cake.

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1930 Architecture – Hastings, New Zealand

We stayed in a small campground on the East coast.  You can hear the waves crashing on the shore some 50 ft away.  It poured rain all night and looks as though it will do the same for the rest of today as well.  The place we are staying happens to have a little restaurant that is open for breakfast and lunch, the Snapper Cafe.  I expected the typical home cooked, greasy spoon, dinner food but what I got was something totally unexpected.

This is Roland’s Muesli.  It has flower petals.  It is beautiful, to say the least!

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We finally got a chance to check out the beach.  It is hard to see for all the rain but it is long and narrow.  Apparently, they have a patrol during the summer to keep swimmers safe.  The beach itself is made of small smooth pebbles and it quite soft to walk on.

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As is was pouring down buckets of rain, we decided to head out for a drive through this area’s towns.

The interesting thing about this area is an earthquake in 1931.  It was a 7.8.  It shifted the sea floor up and out.  It devastated Napier and Hastings.  It remains the worst natural disaster in this nation’s history.

There is so much added land from the earthquake that they were able to build an airport among other things.

Basically, everything affected was torn down and replaced with the style of the 30’s.

 

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Downtown Hastings

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Notice how it says Established and not built.

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It looks as tough there was one very popular architect who provided the new plans for all the buildings.

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This is a water feature in the center of downtown Hastings.  The traffic flows in one direction on either side.  What we didn’t notice on first glance are the working train tracks that run right down the middle of that water feature!

There is also current work being done around Hastings.  This is a first for me.  A tire as a temporary roundabout.  Love the ingenuity.

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We also saw this little gem riding around.  I have seen something like if online.  It is likely peddle driven and qualifies as a bike.  Such a great idea for dealing with weather.

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Just enough space for one!

While some towns have prospered, rebuilt or repurposed to stay alive, we do see evidence of the towns who have moved on.

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There are still people who are holding on and keep these small places from becoming a ghost town.

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Many of their buildings, however, have seen better days.

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They are found if the most beautiful of settings.  Surrounded by mountains or valleys, the scenery is breathtaking everywhere we go.

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Geothermal is the way to go in this part of the world.

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The Place With The Longest Name – New Zeland

Today we finished our long drive to the long name.  How long it is?  Well, it’s world record setting.

We started our morning in Dannevirke.  A small town made up of roughly 6000 people plus plenty of cattle and sheep.  Settled in 1872 by a few  Danish, Norwegian and Swedish settlers, the name comes from a  Viking fortification line in Denmark which had recently fallen into German hands in the German-Danish War of 1864.

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If you remember from my last post, I told you that this place looked like something special as we drove in.  Despite the rain overnight and the misty, rainy, wet conditions of the morning, I filled my pocket with carrots and we headed off.

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After our morning run around the park, grocery shopping, and a late McD’s Breakfast we headed out for the Longest Place Name.

The roads were lightly traveled and many reviews complained about the long drive to get to the long name.  We were well prepared.  We knew there would be nothing but farms in the area.

This is Dan’s Black Swan Event:

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So again you are probably wondering how long it the name of this place and why don’t I just write it.  Well, it’s so long that they don’t even want to try and put it on the information signs.

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Naturally, we hear sheep.  Then we SAW sheep and not just one or two.

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Then we saw a poor logging truck slowly navigating the traffic jam.

We did think it was odd to see this small flock of sheep all on their own.  They were hesitant about coming any closer (Roland didn’t help with his excitement.)

Eventually, the rest of the flock caught up, along with the herding dog and Sheppard.

So this is the place with the longest name.  It is the name of the hill you can see in the background.  There are 85 characters in this name and the Maori name is translated to English as “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.”

 

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You might wonder just how we managed to get 3 out of 4 of us into this picture.

No, Scarlet did not take the photo.  I actually have a monopod (tripods take too much room).  I have found some pretty cool ways to prop it up and used the 10 sec. timer.  I was getting tired by the time we got this one!

With this mission completed, we headed the rest of the way to the east coast, stopping near Hastings.    Our drive was filled with laughs.  Here is Roland.  He insisted on getting Daddy a cookie when we made a stop for fuel (knowing full well he would get one too).  The then insisted on having me take his picture while he ate his cookie too.  This kid is too much.

 

Tonight I can hear the Ocean Waves crashing and I think of home as I look at the game Othello

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Porirua – New Zealand

We found ourselves in the town of Porirus for no reason than a place to stay that had us heading north of Wellington.  Turns out it’s a great little town.

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We stayed at Camp Elsdon, a fantastic little place with a big heart.  Situated at the top of a hill, it is surrounded by bush and just a short drive to town.  We even found a Denny’s to eat at for dinner!

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They have some great little ponies too.

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Last night I had some wonderful conversations with some other travelers.  We seriously get some of our best information from people on the ground.  There is just something special about a personal recommendation over a Google search.  So after our walk this morning we headed for the community pool!

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With a heated large play pool, separate lane swimming pool, lazy river, big and small slides, kids hot pool, separate adult hot pool and saunas you would expect to pay big $$$  but, it is seriously cheep!  Less than $10 for all 4 of us to go swimming.  Also, there are no set times or limits.  It was simply open.

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Scarlet hasn’t  been feeling great today.  She is super tired and just fell asleep on Dan.  She was nice and warm too.

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There is also a cafe where we could grab some grub before hitting the road.  Now I knew this was going to be a drive where Roland falls asleep FAST!

Roland made sure to request we take as many pictures of him as possible before leaving too. ( A well-known stall tactic of his)

Our drive started costal before we headed inland towards the east side of the island.

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As per usual New Zealand driving, we headed up, down and around.  When they tell you to go 25 km/h around a corner they meant it.  The speed limit otherwise was 100km/h.NZ Day 18NZ Day 18NZ Day 18NZ Day 18

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That road down there is the continuation of the road we are currently on.

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I don’t get it.

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Dan and I have noticed a lot of the grass covered “hills” have a bee hive like look to them.  On closer look, you can actually see that the lines are indents and paths caused by the sheep walking on the steep hills.  I wonder how long they have been using these paths to make such an impression.

As it starts to get dark (earlier and earlier each day) we quickly called it quits on our drive.  Our original destination had been Waipukurau but we will stay the night in Dannevirke instead.

As we travel with no reservations booked we can easily drive into a caravan park and if we don’t like it, we simply turn around and leave (yes, we have actually done this).

We’re staying at Dannevirke Holiday Park and if the drive in through the park is any indication we are going to love our morning walk tomorrow!

Movie Magic in Wellington – New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is situated at the south end of the North Island.  You can get here by ferry from the South Island, take a plane or drive a car.  There is a vibrant art scene, some movie magic and you can even drive under a mountain!

Consequently, parking is hard to find, expensive and NOT motorhome friendly.

 

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There are some great advertisements around town,  Now this one is for Canadian Club.  It took me a moment to ponder before I got the “Bad Sweater” connection and why they are not “Ugly Christmas Sweaters”

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“For Those People Who Complain About Too Much NUDITY In Our Billboards!”  And I’m not quite sure what is with the crowd surfing Fox below.

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This is a GIANT gold/bronze Hippo at the Hippopotamus Resturant.

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Dan spotted this cool Push Bike.  I think Roland might get one of these when he gets home.

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After doing some driving we found this fella hanging around the Weta Workshop Cave.

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Yup, that mean ugly guy is a Troll from Lord Of The Rings.  We even had to run away from his friend!

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For as little as $25 you can even get a tour of their working studio!  A tip: call to book if the website says the tour is booked full.  They often have spots for people like us who just drop in.

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Naturally, they are a little protective of their work and pictures are not allowed inside the workshop.  Another tip:  if you are driving, plan to walk as the street parking is packed!  They also have shuttles that leave from downtown Wellington so you don’t need to find local parking.  visit http://wetaworkshop.com/ to see some of their amazing work and to book a tour.

 

Wellington is host to some pretty amazing things to do but our time was limited.  We decided to head over to the FREE Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for lunch and some exploration.

While there we learned about local wildlife, New Zealand History, Dinosaurs, Earthquakes (including an Earthquake House simulator), living eco-friendly and so much more.  The second floor of the museum is virtually kid proof and perfect for a handsy toddler to run around like a maniac.

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Anatomical in size Blue Whale Heart!

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The cafeteria, on the first floor, has great food and a play area.  There are also high chairs and change tables.  Perfect!

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Oh yeah, remember the airport I mentioned.  Here is a plane landing, almost on the water.

Crossing the Cook Straight – New Zealand

We have booked a ferry ride across the Cook Stright for today, but it doesn’t leave until this afternoon.  We found some great parking (Dan got us a $40 ticket because he forgot to pay the meter) and headed off for some breakfast and exploration.

Naturally, Roland found some friendly dogs.  This kid seriously loves dogs!!

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Playing outside a motel were two black labs looking for a good tug-o-war.  Dan also spied this old gem of a Mustang.  We have seen a lot of old cars in very good shape.

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As we headed down toward the water, Roland found one of his favourite things to do.  (Don’t ask me why, I haven’t a clue).  Sitting on a bench.  He’s waiting for one of his other favourite things, a bus.  As bus stops go, this one is very nice.

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Down by the harbor, we found a spectacular surprise.  This park is simply wonderful.  The big ship is amazing and even has a ramp for easy access at the back.  There is also a splash pad, swings, model trains, little park and public toilets.

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Speaking of, I would like to share with you a side by side comparison of the types of videos Dan and I shoot.

We made a quick stop at the Picton Community Museum.  The staff member working today was fantastic with Roland.

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There are a lot of very interesting things to see and read about here.  Admission is only $5 too.

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With all this running around we were ready to eat lunch but also did not have a lot of time before getting on the ferry.  So, off we headed to be one of the first in line so we could grab lunch on the boat.

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Roland is patiently waiting and ready to go.

Once on board, the 3-hour ferry crossing from the South to North Island, the views are something worth seeing.

When we crossed from Melbourn to Tasmania we chose a night sailing as there is not much beyond the open seas and it was 12 hours long.  Here, the short 3 hours is easily taken up by walking aound the ship and grabbing a bite to eat.  The two islands are so close, infact, that you can see on from the other and will always have a good view of the land.

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Picton, New Zealand  – Harbour

 

 

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Along with comfy chairs, dining, and incredible views, there is also a children’s play area.  Today, Roland has skipped his customary nap.  The timing just didn’t work out for him to have one.  So, I compromised.  He was allowed to watch TV for as long as he wanted, just so long as he way laying down at the same time.  He Was Tired.  He also refused to nap with the TV on.  I even got him to eat some food served out of a paper boat.  Scarlet enjoyed crawling around before sleeping in the Ergo carrier.

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Fish Farming

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As we get sight of Wellington we are first impressed at the size of the city.  It is also getting dark FAST and we will need to find somewhere close to stay the night.

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Much like winter in Canada, winter is New Zealand gets dark early.  It’s not even 6, there is rush hour traffic and it is dark.  Both kids are super tired too and I think I will be able to put them right to bed when we find the caravan park.

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No Cooking dinner tonight!!  I had a chat with the staff as we checked into the Top10 Park, just outside Wellington.  They highly recommended we call HELL PIZZA as we could get free delivery.

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Established in 1996 (totally makes sense with the theme), this pizza chain has gone all out with branding.  I am digging the boxes.  We ordered the Mordor and the Damned.  If I though they put a lot of attention into the boxes, they put even more into the pizza.  There are some serious flavour combinations going on here!!

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Photo Recap of the day.