We woke up and packed the car up to head down to Wellington on the 27th, which meant that we had to take the fully loaded car up the hill at River Valley.

I walked up the hill to prevent any further or potential damage to the undercarriage of the car.

To apply an ounce of prevention, I got out of the car and walked up the hill to prevent the car from bottoming out, and actually making it up the hill.  On top of the fact that it was low to the ground, the car had no juice either.


We plopped in the address into HereWeGo and we turned off the highway onto a side road that wasn’t paved.  Uh oh…memories of South Africa when the app took us through backroad banjo playing country.

Trust the app.  Trust the app.  And it brought us eventually out to the highway.

Not only that, but it took us on a very windy road through some incredibly scenic countryside that we would have otherwise not seen.

Since this is summertime for the kiwis, it means that there, like home, is a lot of highway construction.  Thank goodness the majority of it was in the opposite direction and the highway looked like a Friday afternoon on Highway 11 northbound with all of the tourists coming to Muskoka.

When we arrived in Wellington, after taking the usual HereWeGo plus 1 hour predicted arrival time, we parked the car next to the Te Papa museum….which always causes us stress and a bit of tension as we come into a town and have no idea where things are with respect to simple logistics like parking, good restaurants (and eventually which one to pick), where banks are, where laundry is…etc.

Some of the Maori cultural structures in Te Papa

We eventually found our place, and then headed to the museum.  Deb and I were there last time that we were in Wellington, and it was very good with respect to recounting and displaying the Maori history along with historical artifacts.

This time, we went through, and both of us were a bit underwhelmed with the displays there.  So we chalked it up to a ho-hum experience and went back to the hotel.

There was a display there that depicted and recounted this history of the New Zealand and Australian contribution to the first world war.  The kids didn’t want to go, and neither did Deb, so I left them back at the hotel, and I went over to the museum again to walk around.

It was too bad that the kids didn’t see this as it was incredible.  Sir Peter Jackson, who directed and produced the Lord of the Rings trilogy and who lives in Wellington, made supersized incredibly lifelike statues of actual soldiers that were in the war in action in their various capacities in the war.  Soldiers, nurses, doctors, heroes….and in the room, there were biographies of these people and a first person story was told as you stood in the room with the statue.

In adjacent rooms, there was a lot of interactive displays, stories, and historical documents depicting the war, and a particular battle in Turkey that involved the Kiwis.

This is how close they were when they were fighting the Turks. They also dug tunnels underneath to catch them by surprise!

I could have spent many more hours there reading, watching, and digesting it all, but I told the gang that I would be back in an hour and a half.

When the Kiwi and Aussie army were retreating, they set up these guns in the bunkers. Rain water spilled over from one bucket to the other and eventually the bucket on the bottom would cause the trigger to be pulled. So, the Turks still thought they were fighting.

After I got back, we headed up to the hotel pool for a quick dip and some “see who can swim the farthest underwater” and synchro swimming competitions.  That was a lot of fun.

Out for dinner to a fantastic restaurant, Sweet Mothers Kitchen, which had really good home style cooked food, including curly fries, on the menu.  No competition here!

The milkshakes were no slouch either, and Lulu can certainly attest to that!

We went to bed as we needed to get up early to catch the ferry over to the South Island the next morning and make our way to Nelson and the Golden Bay region.

Here are a couple more photos of the displays at the museum.  What a treat.  These things were so lifelike it was crazy!