A capital week to remember
Seventeen Papanui Club travel section members assembled at Christchurch.
In Wellington we were met by driver John, of Transit Coachlines, and headed for Weta Workshops, in Miramar.
We were let on the secrets of the creative processes used to make weapons, armour and vehicles for movies, such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and King Kong.
Much use is made of rubber, plastic and polystyrene. Nothing is ever what it seems.
We then looked at private houses built on the hillside and requiring their own cable cars to transport goods from the roadway, and then to an upmarket, residential area with apartment living facing the Oriental Bay waterfront. (Sand for the beach is brought from Golden Bay).
After settling in at the Foreshore Motor Lodge, on the Petone foreshore, we explored the Petone shops, supermarkets, waterfront and wharf before heading to Speights Alehouse for our evening meal.
Back into Wellington our day’s tour through the city…
Haitaitai, Miramar, Seatoun, around the harbour to Barretts Reef where outlined the circumstances of the Wahine disaster in 1968, when 51 lives were lost, and how the problems encountered resulted in the formation of Civil Defence. From Moa Point we could see snow on the Kaikouras, then it was through Kilbirnie and up bush-clad Mt Victoria for fantastic views of the city and harbour.
A memorial to Rear Admiral Byrd, of American Antarctic fame, is up here. The drive down through narrow streets was a bit hair raising.
Back through the city and up to the Botanical Gardens, where we visited the begonia house (wonderful colours), then we rode down on the cable car to be picked up in Lambton Quay.
We went to Old St Pauls Church, built in 1866 with stained-glass windows, and known as one of the world’s best examples of timber, gothic-revival architecture.
We then headed north on State Highway 1 past Porirua Harbour, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Paekakariki to Paraparaumu for a lunch break.
A little way north is the Southward Car Museum – which contains the largest automobile collection in the southern hemisphere.
More than 400 vintage, veteran and classic cars, plus many fire engines motorcycles and bicycles and aeroplanes, are spread across 6000 square metres over two levels.
There is also features a 470-seat theatre, cafe and function facilities.
We journeyed back to Paekakariki where we took the hill road to a lookout high above the western coastline. We enjoyed native bush as we headed through Pauatahanui over Haywards Hill to Lower Hutt and Petone.
The coach dropped us at the Petone WMC for our evening meal and we walked or made our own way back to the motel.
Walked to Jackson St, Petone, and caught the local bus to the city and the Great War Exhibition at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
This exhibition about World War I was created by Peter Jackson with support from ANZ Bank.
Our guide, Chris, talked us year by year through the history of the war, through the triumphs and tragedies, the hardships and horror of the battlefields.
Numerous intricate displays ranged from a 10-tonne tank to tiny figurines in the trench warfare scenes, and intricate, lifelike dioramas.
After lunch at the Great War Exhibition cafe we took a shuttle to Parliament Buildings.
Our guide, Murray, explained the workings of Parliament and the submission process for proposed law changes etc.
Parliament Buildings contains Parliament House (the Beehive), the chambers building, and the Parliamentary Library.
We spent about 20 minutes in the public gallery, facing the government during a question and answer session. What a real eye opener that was.
A short walk to the railway station, then a trainride back to Petone, and a fend-for-yourself evening meal.
Off at 8.45am on the local bus to Courtney Place and a short walk to Te Papa museum. The Gallipoli exhibition.
created by Te Papa and Weta Workshops, contains several intricately detailed human sculptures, two and a half times normal size, which took 24,000 hours to complete.
There are also three-dimensional maps, miniatures, models and dioramas depicting the day-to-day life and struggles of the campaign.
We had the rest of the day at our individual leisure, making our way back to the motel in Petone and meeting at Speights Alehouse for our evening meal.
All aboard our coach at 7.30am to transfer to the Interislander ferry terminal.
We were on the Aratika’s 9am sailing to Picton and enjoyed a smooth, uneventful crossing of Cook Strait.
In Picton we made the short walk to the railway station for the 1.25pm departure of the Coastal Pacific.
This journey takes you through Marlborough‘s vineyards and farmland, the ponds at the Lake Grassmere salt-works, the seal colonies along the Kaikoura coastline, and North Canterbury rural areas.
We arrived at the Christchurch railway station around 6.45pm.
A very successful five-day trip.
Special thanks to the organisation by Wayne and Helen, who also made sure we were always on time.
A big thank you, too. to Sandra at YOU Travel, Tower Junction, Christchurch for the bookings, ticketing, farewell at the airport and welcome home.