Thursday, 30 September 2010

Day 3 - Auckland Field Trip

Right-oh, time for the final instalment of the Romankids Homeschool Academy's Auckland Field Trip...

With a jolly good breakfast in our tummies, we packed up the van and headed off to rendezvous with Craig and Aunty Adelaide at the Auckland Museum.

And it's just as well we had that decent breakfast because we were there for SIX hours !!!! That's what I said - six!!

Yet -- as expected, we didn't see nearly enough of it. Even though we covered each floor, and tried to look at everything it's practically impossible. Ah well, we shall simply have to return eh!
Everybody enjoyed the Victorian house !!! A certain little girl REEEAAALLLLYYYYY wanted the toys she spied inside !!!! Thank goodness everything is behind glass panels !!!

It was fantastic to see tamāhine 2 enjoy herself so much. Her little face just beamed with delight. She didn't know which way to turn. What a perfect "dolls house!"
We headed to the war memorial which was a good idea because we had a lot to cover and with Aunty Adelaide being with us, there was a lot of reminiscing, discussion and learning. This is an area where Craig and I thought of our mum, our tūpuna and the stories and photos mum would always share with us. Our Uncles names are on the walls you see here, and to me, there are some photos that don't need writing about. A simple moment of silence and thought is all you need here...
The kids were rather awestruck when walking through the bunker. Although it didn't sound loud at all, the kids were slightly unnerved by the experience.
I can barely imagine what it could possibly have been like in real life. The smell, the noise of fighting, being cold or wet, in the dark etc ...
I was so impressed with the following memorial. It depicts an RAF Lancaster Bomber Crew after returning from a night operation.
Of particular interest was the Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary. [ If you're interested to learn more about the significance of the event, then please click on the photo to take you there directly. ]
The Spitfire engine was a fantastic learning tool. As you can see, whaiāipo is explaining what he told the kids is called a "cut-away motor." By turning the handle you see all the internal parts moving showing how the motor operates.
The plaque explains it like this: Uncle Craig also pointed out that the Hurricane we saw at MOTAT the other week and this Spitfire were the main aircraft used in the defence of Britain. Sir Keith Park was the brains behind the winning of that battle.
Could you imagine sitting at attention on these seats at a very young age?! No thanks.
Check out the size of the moa...
It seems hard to believe that penguins of ancient times were twice the height they are today, eh?! Apparently the Emperor penguin weren't as good looking though.
The pre-historic penguins may have been large in their day, but check out the size of this pine cone!! Imagine throwing that one on your fire!! A few of these would get us through winter quite comfortably I'd say!
The following photo is from a totara tree and rimu after that. Unfortunately we can't remember how old they are. Oh well, you can always start counting the rings if you want!! :-
And as for the size of this rimu. We need that size for our dining table. Quick! Throw it on the back of the trailer!!
Everybody look for crayfish ... quick! Throw those on the back of the trailer! Dang, that's right! we didn't bring a trailer!! ...
The kids had run off ahead to the Volcanic display area. Next second, tama 1 comes running back to tell me I just "had" to see the vulcanologist suit...
Craig and I tried getting decent photos of the Volcanoes display; especially the Puia Street, St Heliers house. The following, by Craig, is best.
In the end I've decided to use this photo and link from the Auckland Museum website itself to better illustrate the display area. In New Zealand the chances of a volcanic eruption are very real indeed ...
Check out these humongous things. They're called Basalt Chimes and if memory serves me they're on loan from someone in the Coromandel. They are soooo neat. They're made from a kind of basalt called ... um ... phonolite ?? ... and it's known for the sounds it makes when it is struck, apparently. Be neat to have them at home. I could dong the chimes to get the kids attention when they're playing down the back!!! Then again they might be neat as a door chime eh?
As we sat and enjoyed a much deserved cuppa and bite to eat, we looked up at the atrium (see next two photos) where Craig and I wanted to head for the Coffee Festival. Now, I don't wanna moan, but to us it wasn't very good. On their FB page they reckon it was a total success. Well, I guess you had to get there earlier in the day perhaps because we didn't get to attempt any of the different flavoured coffees that were advertised. We still scored free coffee, but the only thing we came away having learned was that we should've gone earlier. Oh well, too bad ...
There is so much to see, do, and photograph, but you just can't cover everything. Even in the six hours we were there, we hardly covered the surface eh?!
It was an incredibly long, exciting day. Everybody enjoyed themselves and by the time we said our goodbyes to Aunty Adelaide and Craig, it was getting very late in the afternoon.
The drive home was made more pleasant with all the conversation we had.

Overall, our weekend away was fantastic. Nobody cared it had rained on and off. We'd taken the weather into account when planning our field trip, hence everything we chose was an indoors activity.

I hope you enjoyed the pictorial tour.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Day 2 - Auckland Field Trip

Continuing from yesterday's instalment...

We now find ourselves at:-

It's been years since I went to Kelly Tarlton's, but it was great to go back. It's definitely bigger since I last went, but gosh, I wish it could be even bigger. You no sooner get started when, hello, you're suddenly at the end. It's an exciting environment and as much as you try to make the most of it, you feel like you're at the souvenir store before you know it.

Kelly Tarlton's is a very, VERY popular tourist attraction. It's ALWAYS crowded, so it pays to buy your ticket online. Well, that's what you'd think. If I was to gripe, then I'd have at least one gripe and that's with the "supposed" express lane for those of us who paid online ( oh, by the way, you save 10% by booking online! ) Two lines of customers make their way down to the ticket box:- those who paid online and off-the-street patrons. Being in the express lane you're nudging elbows with the other queue of people and as much as you excuse yourself to get down the line without annoying anyone, you finally get towards the bottom when you have to "merge like a zip" and take turns at the ticket box anyway!!! So much for an express lane. You'd be lucky if you bypassed anyone. They need to come up with a better plan. I don't know if they have a suggestion box, but if they do, I hope people have asked for a better entrance. It's an absolute bottle neck. For the amount you pay, you want to feel important from the moment you park your car and enter the building. First impressions and all that eh!!! I mean, you have two queues, so why not two ticket boxes? one on the left and one on the right? Many people were grumbling in the queues and as much as I could have been one of them, my job was to keep everybody upbeat and excited to be venturing into another world. Like I say, it's a great place and I'm glad I booked in advance to save a few pingas. ( Interestingly enough, you get a discounted price if you're a Community Services Card holder. Wicked, I enjoyed making another saving. )

Anyway, that's enough about the entrance area !!! I don't like complaining, I'm merely highlighting a very obvious flaw.

Let's get on with the tour ...

Definitely new since I last visited are the penguins:-

My photos aren't very good because you're not allowed to use a flash and this is the best I could do. [ Either that, or I'm a shocking photographer, lol ] It was a really busy day and everybody wanted to look at the penguins of course.
They have a screen with a live webcast inside so the audience can see what's going on and at one stage a staff member came out and gave a running commentary of which kind of penguins ( King and Gentoo ) we were looking at with other information about them. We tried to stick around long enough to take the train through the penguin area, but we had to make the decision in the end to push on because it was just soooooo busy and the kids were keen to see everything, so we took a pass on waiting in another queue.

[ Not to worry, there'll always be another chance in the future eh! ]

We timed it just right to look in the following pool ....
Somebody was having a birthday and we were all standing at the right spot (well, for the kids at least), because a staff member came around with a bucket of feed for the giant stingrays and other fish. Right in front of us the man fed a giant stingray and he gave the stingray a rub on it's belly - right there in front of us. It was REALLY exciting!!!!
About as close as I'd like to come to a shark with it's jaws open thank you very much!
On the following screen the kids had to match the sound to the correct animal. Not as easy as you'd think!! Quite the challenge, indeed.
Next photo: this is the view while sitting at the café. Yep, that's the Auckland harbour looking towards Okahu Bay and the city with Devonport out to the right. I chose to take it from further back to try and emphasise the water level).

It's pretty freaky to look out and realise you're about to drop below the level you see here. If whaiāipo hadn't pointed out this fact to the kids they'd have been none the wiser, because they were more interested in looking at the giant stingray at Stingray Bay(see next photo)...As we dropped down under the water level, and just before entering the Underwater World on the moving walkway, Craig quickly ushered the kids off the turtle to see the giant stingray:-
Isn't just unbelievable? I had no idea they were so large.
"Hey everybody keep an eye out for turtles, giant rays and other incredible deep sea creatures, okay?!"Don't put your hand in there tama 2!!! Piranha!!! Aaarrgghh!!!
The colours are just beautiful:-
"Hey, look! It's Marlin!"
"And look, over here - it's Dory!"
Tama 2 was amused by the octopus...
Everybody loved the experience of getting right up close and personal...
By the time we left it was after 3 and unfortunately the weather wasn't convenient for anything outdoorsy, so we went on a tiki tour over the Harbour Bridge, and headed to Devonport - ending up at Mt Victoria. It was a truly blustery afternoon but the view was great. We pointed out to the kids where we'd just come from (ie Kelly Tarlton's).

Auckland's a monster city for sure, but it's beautiful to look at from mountain tops like Mt Victoria.

To finish off our fishy day we decided to buy fish and chips and sit back at Aunty Adelaide's to enjoy a well-deserved feast.

The next part of our field trip I think I'll leave for another post .... so be sure to tune back soon ...

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano