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Beware, Family with Teenager!

Moving on to the South Island

sunny 30 °C

We are leaving the north Island to explore the south island. But before we left, there are a couple things of interest that we did.
First we visited the town of Napier. This town, in 1931, was totally destroyed by an earthquake and the subsequent resulting fires. As the town was rebuilt a large portion of the building were created following the design style of the time which was Art Deco. This town apparently has the largest concentration of Art Deco buildings in one spot. Outside of checking out the architecture in Napier, we also visited the Napier Aquarium where we were able to get a look at a live Kiwi bird for the first time. Yes, it is odd that they have a Kiwi bird in an aquarium but they do! We were also able to go to the top of Te Mata peak and take in the breathtaking panoramic view of the area.

Napier; Napier Aquarium Shark Attack; TeMata Peak Panorama

On Sunday Nov. 14 Ayden turned 13!!!! Hard to believe that we are now parents of a teenager!!! This of course is a very just cause for celebration. And celebrate we did. In keeping with the pattern we had established for Claire’s Birthday, the birthday teen could A) Pick the food we eat for the day, B) Choose a place where he would like to explore.
So, the menu for Nov. 14th was a follows:
Breakfast: Bacon, waffles, cheese, juice. At breakfast we also presented Ayden with his birthday ‘cake’ which was home made fudge!! This tasty meal was enjoyed in the camp kitchen in the Wellington Top 10 caravan park.
Lunch: Tomatoes, “The Works” chips, and a sandwich with cheese, mustard, and bologna. Mum added his favourite NZ pop “lift” and a couple of pieces of fudge. All these tasty morsels were enjoyed at a picnic in the botanical gardens located in the centre of Wellington. The great news, the sun was shining for this picnic!
Dinner: eat out at Hogs Breath Cafe. Here Ayden enjoyed the taste of cheesy garlic bread, a deluxe burger (minus the beetroot, yes, in NZ beetroot is a favourite topping on a burger) with curly fries (because they resemble a hogs tail) and finished off this meal with a piece of double chocolate cake.

We did a few different things for Ayden’s birthday, not all of which were done on the 14th. Ayden’s first request was to visit the Southward Car Museum which we did on our way to Wellington on November 12th. It is supposed to be the largest collection of cars in the southern hemisphere. This museum had many very interesting cars to check- out included a car that was sold at an auction for 11 million NZ, a variety of three wheeled cars, plus a car that was very heavily armoured for its’ owners were in league with Al Capone. Ayden was impressed with the bomb proof floor of this car, the bullet proof glass, and also a front windshield window on hinges so that the occupant could open the window to shoot a person.
Southward Car Museum

Southward Car Museum

On Ayden’s actual birthday we were in the city of Wellington and took the opportunity to visit the Weta Cave. Contrary to what the name suggests Weta Caves is not really a cave but rather a store front location where people can go to get a closer look at the work done by the Weta Company. Why would a person what to do that? Well, this is the company that is responsible for producing the amazing special effects for movies such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Master and Commander, and District 9 to name a few. They will be starting to work on The Hobbit in February and are currently in negotiations for doing the special effects for a sequel to Avatar! In the actual cave the highlight is a DVD that you watch in a cave theatre that show the viewer a behind the scene look at just how they create the look of a character such as Gollum, or how they make armour, or create a set of miniatures of boats in a raging sea. Of course there is also a boutique that has some original and some replicas of the actual props in some of those movies. It was cool and free!!! As Ayden said, “I see movies in a totally different way now”
You Can't Have My Fish, I ... Mean ... Precious

You Can't Have My Fish, I ... Mean ... Precious

In Wellington we also visited the Te Papa museum. If you are every in NZ and are close to Wellington, this museum is a must. We spent 5 hours there and could have spent more. They have wonderful permanent exhibit on things such as earthquakes and volcanoes and how they happen as well as exhibits that outline the Maori history in NZ. All exhibits include effective and interesting interactive components that Ayden and Claire actually did enjoy doing and also learned from. They also have traveling exhibits that can range from pottery to photography. All a true treat to see with a huge bonus, this museum is free!!!

Te Papa Museum; Aydens Birthday; Wellington Botanic Garden; Tree Climber; Aydens Birthday; Aydens Birthday; Aydens Birthday Dinner at Hog's Breath

It came time to leave the North Island, which meant a 3hour 10minute ferry ride across Cook’s Straight. There was a 20 minute patch where we all almost revisited our breakfast, but standing outside in the cold at mid-ship made things a little better. We were all very thankful when the ferry entered the Marlborough Sound for the wave action subsided considerably. The rest of the ride was uneventful, thank goodness. Once on the south island we headed west along the top coast to Nelson where we set up camp for a couple of nights. Nelson is a beautiful town of about 45,000 people. The downtown is well developed and very browser friendly. We spent a morning mooching in stores and enjoying the beautiful warm, sunny weather. Apparently Nelson has the reputation for the best overall weather in all of NZ!! From what we have experienced we would agree. Sunny, 27 degrees, can’t complain!! Besides checking out the local shops the other big attraction for this area is the beaches. Long beaches with a backdrop of snow capped mountains. Not hard to look at!!

FerryToSouthIsland; FerryToSouthIsland; Nelson; Nelson; Gwen Enjoying the View; Survivor Hut; Tahunanui Beach Panorama]

After stocking up on supplies we headed further north- west along the top coast of the north Island to the Abel Tasmen National Park. Over the next few days we will be exploring this park after we slather on the sun screen to combat the bright sun that accompanies a day with a temp of 30 degrees. (Just had to throw that in there to make a few of our Canadian readers groan!!!)

Cheers to you all till next time!

Posted by gcapfour 22:48 Archived in New Zealand

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Well Ayden, it sounds like you had a pretty terrific "milestone" birthday. Thank you all for sharing it with us. Your excelent blogs help the folk back home feel connected with you, which is good, because you are missed! Happy trails on the south island!! Much love, Nana

by Nana

Keep 'em coming! Lots of memories......if you can't travel the next best thing is to hear from someone who is....

by The MacCallums

Jeez Ayden, that is my idea of an amazing 13th birthday!! Happy Belated Birthday! Yes, hearing about 30 degree weather certainly makes me green, as this morning I awoke to minus 6 and snow on my car!! Keep exploring and having fun; Michelle :)

by Michelle Allore

Happy birthday all over again! I laughed when I read your menu items - you sure are keen for cheeze :) It sounds like you had a fabulous, unforgettable day, and I'm pleased for you. I agree with other who have said the blogs are important for staying connected to you folks. I suppose missing birthday celebrations is practice for missing you all at Christmas. The decorations are starting to show up in our neighbourhood. What are they like in NZ?

by glynisb

Happy Belated Birthday Ayden! I hope you all have a great time on the South Island.

by Robin

Happy Belated Birthday Ayden! I hope you all enjoy exploring the South Island.

by Robin

Are you in the vicinity of the mine disaster that is somewhere "remote" on the south island? We're not getting much in the way of details here.....

by The MacCallums

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