What We Did in Rarotonga

Rarotonga

If you live in New Zealand, you’ll probably end up having a holiday in Rarotonga. Last week, I began the story of my own Rarotongan holiday. (You should probably read that before reading this. Here it is.) This week, the relaxing adventure continues. Where were we? Oh, yes. The resort.

A white, sandy beach fanned by palm trees… Recliners and thatched huts overlooking a crystal-blue ocean… A pool with a waterfall… Endless cocktails… The Rarotongan was pretty much exactly what I’d always imagined a Pacific Island resort to be like. Bliss.

Sunset on a Pacific Island Beach, Rarotonga

Except the sand was quite painful to walk on. Not that anyone else thought so. Most of the tourists there were Kiwis, and Kiwis have toughened soles from walking around barefoot. Needless to say, I don’t. Happily, the resort had an activities hut you could borrow reef shoes from.

It also had a giant chessboard – always cause for excitement. (Although one of the bishops got beheaded before Tim and I went to play.) The bar provided nice food throughout the day. We went especially crazy for the prawn twisters. (Although they ran out halfway through our stay.)

Rarotongan Resort

The restaurant at the resort was okay, but, on the second night, we found somewhere much better. It was recommended to us by the lady at the local dive school. (I didn’t actually go diving myself, as I have ichthyophobia and am prone to panic attacks.) The restaurant was called Coco Putt.

You wouldn’t expect a restaurant-cum-mini golf course to have amazingly beautiful food, but this place did. The seafood was so fresh and delicate. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed the taste of scallops, and am now obsessed with the Cook Island speciality ika mata – raw fish salad.

Of course, we played a round of mini golf afterward. We’d already had an incredibly good cocktail served in a nu (young) coconut, and now we set off with a golf club in one hand and a G&T in the other. I’m not surprised I fell over one of the holes rather spectacularly – straight onto my arse!

To be fair, it was dark. I saved one G&T and managed to escape with only a bruise on my leg. (A pretty enormous bruise that I still bear.) Luckily, no trip to the hospital was required, as Rarotongan healthcare isn’t exactly the best. The Cook Islands are a third-world country, after all.

Rarotongan Court House

If you’re seriously injured in Rarotonga, you’re better off flying to New Zealand for hospital treatment there. That’s why you should never go without travel insurance. A man at the resort said he’d taken one of his kids to hospital, but wouldn’t even let them put a plaster on – it was so filthy.

But anyway. As I wouldn’t go diving, the others insisted I at least join them on a semi-submersible boat trip. As I stared through the glass at the ocean floor, an enormous fish – I swear it was almost as large as me – wriggled past. They’d started throwing food in to lure them. I looked away.

The guide told us a story that will no doubt fuel my nightmares for years to come. A stupid tourist wanted to film the fish feeding from underwater, so he jumped in with his camera and the fish mistook him for food. They took many large chunks out of him before he was rushed to hospital.

South Pacific

Unfortunately, the coral around Rarotonga is nowhere near as colourful as it used to be, due to ocean acidification. The weather was also awful – storms the entire day – so we didn’t see much. We went past a shipwreck, though. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes as they played My Heart Will Go On.

We only had two days of bad weather. The rest of the week was glorious, especially for the middle of winter. I absolutely adored going kayaking around the island. In my opinion, the best way to see Rarotonga is from a kayak. (Check out my Top 10 Places to Go Kayaking in New Zealand.)

Rarotongan Jungle

We hired a comically small car – the last one they had left – and drove around the island. It only takes an hour. On our way round we came across a French bakery and celebrated Bastille Day, (completely oblivious to the terror attack in Nice.)

My partner’s father bought, for $25, a bottle of French cider so old that the label had worn off. Apparently, the previous owner of the bakery had brought it back with him from France, and they had no idea how old it was. Perhaps very old.

It was covered with dust and cobwebs and, at some point, an insect had burrowed partly into the cork. Possibly, it would be off, but for $25 that seemed a reasonable risk. I suspected it wasn’t quite as old as Tim’s dad was saying, as the muselet was a metallic shade of blue, but what did I know?

We opened it with a satisfying pop. It smelled revolting, but tasted quite nice. Still, I sipped it very cautiously. As the cork was passed around for people to look at, I noticed a number printed on its bottom: 2006. Ha. There went our dreams.

The other drink we had at the French bakery was a bottle of Lindauer Brut… a $40 bottle of Lindauer Brut! (For those that don’t know, Lindauer Brut is, in New Zealand, the bog-standard, barely-drinkable sparkling wine that I still quite enjoy, and usually costs about $10 at supermarkets.)

Rarotonga

I didn’t just drink alcohol in Rarotonga! I discovered a love for fresh coconut milk drunk directly from the coconut with a straw. I only really like the nu coconuts, though. I like eating their slimy flesh. Most people seem to prefer the tougher flesh of older coconuts.

I was intrigued by the scavenging animals around Rarotonga’s restaurant tables. In New Zealand, we’re used to pigeons. Here, their place was taken by rather assertive Indian myna birds. And feral cats. Skinny, patchy, gashed, filthy… and utterly adorable.

I know, I know, I’m a crazy cat lady, but these wild cats are obviously well used to tourists being kind to them. One of them leapt onto my lap for a cuddle as soon as I showed it the slightest sign of attention. Yes, I was a little worried about fleas, but it was so lovely!

Anyway, back we got into the comically small car. The only reason Tim’s grandma’s wheelchair fit in the boot was because there was no back window, just a plastic cover! Mechanics in Rarotonga rarely do their job properly, we were told. Ah well – the maximum speed limit on the island is 50kmph.

We went to the Maire Nui Botanical Gardens. The café there only served salads, but – my goodness – they were beautiful salads, garnished with produce straight from the garden. The place was so peaceful, with plants unlike any I’d ever seen.

Wigmores Waterfall, Rarotonga

We also went to Wigmore’s Waterfall – a short diversion down a pothole-strewn road into the jungle. It wasn’t that great, really. One of the least interesting waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Still, it was nice to see and – hey – it was the deepest we got into the jungle all trip.

At some point, I foolishly agreed to get on ‘the party bus’ – an open-sided vehicle escorting revellers from club to club around the island. The bus was all flashing lights, ear-splitting music and drunk, yelling strangers pressing in… My idea of hell, basically. But I’m young – I’m supposed to enjoy it.

Apart from kayaking, the activity I most enjoyed during my week in Rarotonga was lasertag – but how could you not enjoy lasertag when it’s set in the real-life ruins of an old, abandoned resort? Running around it was actually quite dangerous – rusted oil drums, broken tiles, dark rooms…

The story of why there’s an old, abandoned resort in Rarotonga is quite interesting, told with relish by the locals. It involves the mafia. Really. The place is called The Sheraton, if you’re interested. You can also do paintball there, but you do not want to be throwing yourself to the ground in that place!

View from Highland Paradise, Rarotonga

On our last night in Rarotonga, we went to a fantastic cultural show at Highland Paradise. It was great because they didn’t take themselves too seriously, but, at the same time, were very interesting, informative and entertaining. I learned a lot about the history of Rarotonga.

The Maori migrated to New Zealand from the Cook Islands. It was fascinating to see the similarities and the differences between New Zealand Maori and Cook Island Maori culture. We heard tales of warring tribes and cannibals, and witnessed traditional dances from different periods in history.

The island drumming was thrilling. Apparently, the Highland Paradise show isn’t as spectacular as the one at Te Vara Nui, but it is better. Hearing about how the missionaries made the Cook Islanders wear their grass skirts above the belly button was hilarious. (They moved back below for tourists.)

Highland Paradise isn’t just a cultural show (with GORGEOUS food, I might add – I especially liked the taro leaves cooked in coconut cream.) It’s an archaeological site. A tribe lived there before the missionaries arrived. Now its descendants are re-discovering their history; teaching their children.

Ancient Marae

We were taken to see an ancient marae on a hillside. In New Zealand, a marae is a large meeting house. This was an outdoor platform carefully constructed of stone, with different levels for different statuses. Seeing this was one of the highlights of the holiday for me.

The view from Highland Paradise was breathtaking – alone worth the somewhat scary drive up. So make sure you go up during the day as well as for the evening show. I’m only disappointed I didn’t get to see everything. Apparently, on the full tour, you get taken to see the Sacrifice Stone!

View from Highland Paradise, Rarotonga

After the cultural show, we went back to the hotel to collect our suitcases – we would be flying back to New Zealand at three o’ clock in the morning! The show’s amiable host had boasted that at most airports you are greeted by security guards; in Rarotonga you are greeted by a guy playing a ukulele.

It turned out our flight was delayed until five o’ clock in the morning, so it wasn’t a fun night. Duty free shops are only amusing up to a point. I spent my last triangular Cook Island dollar and then realised I probably should have kept it as a souvenir. The night passed.

Amazingly, even though it was now five o’ clock in the morning, a guy with a ukulele was there to serenade us as we boarded our flight! Thus we left Rarotonga. How lovely. As well as a bottle of duty free alcohol, I took with me some awesome memories and a renewed appreciation for warm places.

Rarotonga

I look forward to doing some more travelling within New Zealand itself. I probably won’t be able to get anywhere for at least a few weeks, though, and then it’ll just be daytrips. I’m running out of stuff to write about – this blog’s been going for over three years, you know!

Where New Zealanders Go On Holiday

Rarotonga

If you’re wondering why I didn’t post anything last week, it’s because I was in paradise. And in paradise, Internet access is eye-wateringly expensive. I was also too busy drinking cocktails on the beach. Poor me.

I was in Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands, a country in the tropical South Pacific. It’s a very popular winter getaway destination for Kiwis. Indeed, just about every other tourist I met there was from New Zealand.

The reason is more than mere proximity. The Cook Islands are a four-hour flight from Auckland – (New Zealand is so far away from everywhere that your only cheap holiday destinations are Australia and the Pacific Islands) – but they’re also closely tied to New Zealand politically.

The country was a protectorate of New Zealand until the 1960s, and still uses New Zealand currency. Cook Islanders are automatically New Zealand citizens. (The population of the Cook Islands is approximately 20,000, yet over 60,000 Cook Islanders live in New Zealand.)

Rarotongan Resort 01

You don’t need a visa to visit, just proof of accommodation and a return ticket, and at least six months left on your passport. It’s so easy for New Zealanders to visit the Cook Islands. Everywhere you go, you’re blasted with advertisements for holidays there.

In the lead-up to my holiday, every time I saw such an advertisement I had to pinch myself – I was actually going! And it couldn’t have been more welcome. The last few weeks in New Zealand have been freezing.

Our flight to Rarotonga arrived in the early hours of the morning. The Cook Islands are twenty-two hours behind New Zealand, so whilst there wasn’t much jetlag to be had, living through the same day twice (then skipping a day entirely on the way back) was a little confusing.

Crossing the International Date Line involves too much mental exercise when you’ve been up all night! It’s bad enough filling in your arrival card when you’re in that state. I unsurely put down my profession as ‘writer’.

Rarotongan Resort 05(I always get a thrill giving my job as ‘writer’. For so long, being a professional writer was my dream. Even though I’ve been getting paid for it for a while now it still seems unreal. Like I’m a fraud or something. The customs guy at Auckland Airport seemed to treat me with suspicion for it, anyway.)

The thing is, though, is you’re not legally allowed to practise your profession when you’re in the Cook Islands on holiday. This meant that every time I jotted down a story idea or made a note of the things we’d done, I was sort of breaking the law.

My partner pointed this out and named me a pirate writer. (A label I very much liked!) Beginning a new science fiction story whilst sitting in a hut overlooking the clear, turquoise ocean felt quite wonderful.

Landing in Rarotonga and finding it to be cosily warm was one of the best parts of the whole holiday. Several members of our party found the duty free cigarettes and alcohol to be just as exciting! Not so great was arriving at the resort to find that they’d screwed up our booking.

We had to spend the night in prison cell-like ‘emergency’ rooms with only half the number of beds we needed. (Well, apart from my partner’s dad. He was given the honeymoon suite!) But it was all sorted out the next day, so all good.

Rarotongan Resort 02

We decided to spend our first day in Rarotonga relaxing at the resort. I’d been looking forward to this so much. The last few weeks had been absolutely hectic and I desperately needed to spend a week relaxing.

The thing was, now I was here I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was wasting time. I was reclining beneath a palm tree and I felt like I should be doing something productive! It took a while – and a few cocktails – before I calmed down.

I started reading the first of Steven Erikson’s Malazan books and, I must say, I found the contrast between the resort around me and the gritty, gore-filled world of the book quite comical! The resort felt like it was inside a bubble of unreality.

Due to the expensiveness of Internet access, no news reached our party the entire eight days we were in Rarotonga. (Getting home to find Boris Johnson had been made UK Foreign Secretary and that there’d been another terrorist attack in France was like being hit on the head with a mallet.)

Rarotongan Resort 03

So there we were, festooned with flower garlands and strong, fruity cocktails, nicely sealed into our bubble of unreality, ready to begin our gently-paced adventure. I’ll save that adventure for next week’s post, though – there’s rather a lot to get through! Bye for now. Aere ra!

Next post: What We Did in Rarotonga

New Zealand and Volcanoes

Featured Image -- 3413

This was my very first blog post, written over three years ago! Funny how my writing style has changed…

POMS AWAY!

When I was nine years old, my world fell apart.

There I was, living quite happily in a small town in the North of England, when my parents dropped a bombshell: we were moving to New Zealand.

New Zealand – wasn’t that the little triangle at the bottom of Australia? Wasn’t it millions of miles away, filled with bubbling lakes of lava and cannibals and sheep?

Well, I was right about the sheep.

It turned out that New Zealand was quite similar to England, but the differences were truly amazing. This blog is about what makes New Zealand different.

A bit of White Island See how different New Zealand is? This was taken on White Island.

You might be especially interested if you were thinking about moving to New Zealand, or coming here for a holiday. In my experience, the best way to see the country is by campervan. My family and I have driven…

View original post 923 more words

How Brexit Looks from New Zealand

westminster-1472807_960_720

Last week, out of the blue, I was asked to “appear” on Radio NZ. They needed a British expat to talk about Brexit, and I can only assume Google led them to this blog.

Okay.

I wasn’t exactly an expert, but I agreed. I figured it would be the most interesting thing to happen to me all week. I did tell them that I was only ten years old when I moved to New Zealand, and had therefore never been registered to vote in Britain in my life, let alone in the last fifteen years. This meant I was unable to actually vote on the EU referendum. (My mum was still eligible – just, but didn’t feel it was her place to.) They still wanted me, so I hurriedly set about doing some research.

British_biometric_passportNot getting a say in Brexit, I hadn’t thought too deeply about it. I was vaguely aware of the disturbingly racist turn things were taking, and of the exaggerated threats of a financial Armageddon turning into the actual Armageddon, but I hadn’t thought far beyond how it would impact upon me directly: I’d rather not give up my EU passport, thank you very much! I like having the option of living and working indefinitely – hassle-free – on “the Continent”. In fact, my New Zealand-born, German-bred boyfriend and I attempted to do just that a couple of years ago. (We only returned to New Zealand because his mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer.)

I realised, of course, that it was selfish to think this way. If I’d believed that it was in Britain’s best interests to leave the EU, (and if, of course, if I’d been able to vote,) I would have voted Leave. After doing some proper research, however, I did not believe that leaving the EU was in Britain’s best interests. When pretty much every expert in the world says it’s a bad idea, and when Nigel Farage and Donald Trump think it’s a good idea… it probably isn’t a good idea.

During the course of my research, I became seriously disheartened. The lies of the politicians, the stupidity of the people, the crass xenophobia suddenly given not just a voice, but a megaphone… I do realise there were perfectly good reasons to leave the EU, and if you’re one of the many perfectly nice, non-racist people who actually thought about their vote with some degree of intelligence, fair enough, and I have no qualms with you. The thing is, the more I researched, the more I came to realise that the worst outcome wasn’t leaving the EU: the worst outcome had already happened.

The atmosphere that this whole Brexit debacle has awoken in Britain is bloody terrifying. Watching from New Zealand, I’m seeing scenes reminiscent of 1930s Germany. Does the human race never learn anything?! The insidious fear-mongering is simply disgusting. Aggressive, pig-headed nationalism isn’t a good look for any country and, surely, we all know where it leads. Human beings should be working together for peace, not demonising anyone with a different accent! As an immigrant myself, I can sympathise and it’s scary.

I always thought my homeland was one of the saner places in the world. Well there goes my innocence.

I watched the votes being counted on the BBC website all throughout last Friday afternoon. (It was the middle of the night in Britain.) I became increasingly nervous, not just because I was waiting to go on the radio and make complete tit of myself, but because Leave was winning. That wasn’t supposed to happen! What about Scotland?

“Don’t worry,” I said half-jokingly to a friend on Facebook. “Scotland will save us!”

internet-42583_960_720The thing is, I have four hundred Facebook friends. (When you move around a lot that tends to happen.) Of those four hundred, only two (that I saw) expressed a desire for Britain to leave the EU. Now, my friends are, naturally, made up of mostly people of a similar age to myself, i.e. young people. They are mostly either:

  • Brits living in Britain
  • Brits living/studying in other European countries
  • Brits living in New Zealand
  • New Zealanders living in New Zealand
  • New Zealanders living in Britain

When the result of the vote was announced, my Facebook wall was flooded with dismay. People weren’t just disappointed, they were angry and scared. Some of them – New Zealanders, obviously – were amused. (You know, watching Britain tear itself apart is funny.) Being mostly young people, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of my friends wanted Britain to remain in EU. The vast majority of young people who voted in the referendum voted Remain. Forgive us for being optimistic.

Young people are often called selfish by the older generation, yet my generation is, so far, the most tolerant, open and accepting of any in history. We celebrate diversity. Most of us have been brought up with the message that love is love. We want to live in peace. We want the world to live as one. (Not in a homogenised way, in an inclusive way.) We want to look outwards, and out for each other.

To me, the entire Brexit thing was deeply demoralising. A sad, ironic version of John Lennon’s Imagine has been looping in my mind since Friday. I’ve seen the young voters criticised as idealists – well, bloody hell! What’s wrong with striving to live in an ideal world? As soon as you give up striving, you slide backwards and history repeats itself!

And I really don’t want history to repeat itself now we’ve got nuclear arsenals.

john-lennon-1010040_960_720

You know, I’m not a hippy. I’ve never particularly loved John Lennon. I’ve always enjoyed his music in the background, but, until these last few days, it’s never brought tears to my eyes.

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

Remember, older generation? Remember when you loved that song? You used to be young and hopeful like us. I know your experience of the world since has made you cynical. Made you want to protect your own with no room for anyone else. Back when you had nothing, you were perfectly happy to share. Why aren’t you now?

Of course, I know the answer to that. And it is disheartening.

brexit-1477302_960_720

But anyway, here’s a link to my radio thing if any of you are interested. I didn’t quite manage to say what I wanted to say. You’ll probably be able to tell by my voice that the phone was shaking in my hand. You’ll definitely be able to tell that the final question threw me – what do you think of the answer I gave? (Also, my mum said I sounded Kiwi! I don’t, do I?)

I want to make it clear that, although I said Brexit was “a bit of a bum result for young people”, I’m not one of those young people railing at old people for forcing us into a future we don’t want. Yes, something like 75% of young people voted to remain in the EU, but less than half of them actually bothered to vote in first place. Which is just another reason to feel disheartened.

New Zealand FlagMeanwhile, the Brexit vote has reignited New Zealand’s flag debate. (If anyone thought that referendum was bad…) It’s also ignited a new republic debate. What’s the point, many Kiwis are asking, of staying in the commonwealth if Britain will no longer be our gateway to Europe? Many British expats in New Zealand are now saying, well, we may as well get New Zealand passports then. (Their British passports won’t be superior for much longer.) Many here are sharing the joke that Brits can no longer call Americans stupid. (But, of course, America has a Trump card.) I’m just sitting here feeling physically sick at the thought of Nigel Farage happy.

Britain doesn’t look like a nice place to be at the moment. I’m glad I’m in New Zealand.

The Alien World of White Island

Featured Image -- 3369

POMS AWAY!

Have you ever visited somewhere so unique that you rave about it years later? It’s been six years since my family went to New Zealand’s White Island, and I still find myself thinking about it and talking about how amazing it is. I can’t believe how few of my friends have been!

White Island is an active volcano out in the Bay of Plenty. It’s a small island, but it looms large in my memory. I remember the huge clouds of dense, white steam billowing from it as we approached in the ferry. It was so exciting, like coming upon a lost world. We’d already been treated to the sight of dolphins that day – they’d surrounded our ferry as we left Whakatane and played with us for so long we almost forgot where we were going – so, as you can imagine, things were pretty magical.

The island looked…

View original post 663 more words

The Otuataua Stonefields

Otuataua Stonefields

When you’re an immigrant, you spend a lot of time at the airport, picking up visiting relatives. I’ve been to Auckland Airport many times, but I never knew about the important archaeological site right next to it! The Otuataua Stonefields are a potential World Heritage Site and they’re woefully underappreciated. I only learned of their existence because I stumbled upon this webpage whilst researching another article. Of course, I had to go.

Otuataua Stonefields

As a Brit living in New Zealand, I miss seeing stone ruins and walls. Even though I left England at the age of ten, the sight of them still makes me sentimental. I went to a fellow British expat’s house a while back, and I found myself almost tearing up at the dry stone wall he’d built in his garden. Silly, I know. The Otuataua Stonefields feature dry stone walls built by nineteenth-century English settlers, but the site goes back much further than that.

Otuataua Stonefields

It’s a little tricky to find, being kind of out of the way. You’d think a site of such significance would have large signs pointing to it. As we drove through Mangere towards Ihumatao Quarry Road, we began to see lots of signs of different sort: handmade signs protesting a new housing development – practically on top of the Otuataua Stonefields. Seriously? I know Auckland’s going through a housing crisis, but to build five hundred new properties in that particular place shows a serious lack of respect.

Otuataua Stonefields

Ihumatao Village is the oldest settlement in Auckland. A twelfth-century shell midden was found on the nearby Puketutu Island, which is amongst the earliest evidence of human occupation New Zealand has. The descendants of those Polynesian pioneers still live in the area. To them, the land is sacred. The area upon which the houses will be built includes lava caves that were used as burial chambers, but those will apparently be protected, along with “many” of the historical stone walls – see this New Zealand Listener article.

Otuataua Stonefields

As well as European dry stone walls, the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve contains, among other features, the remains of kumara pits, sheltered gardens and ancient Maori buildings. It’s very beautiful to walk around, especially with the Manukau Harbour as a backdrop. I’d recommend wearing hiking boots, though. The paths are nothing more than narrow trails in the long grass, and the signposts are old and unclear. There’s a lot of up and down and stumbling.

Otuataua Stonefields

The place could do with a bit of TLC. There was a bag of dog mess at the entrance, underneath an information board that looked a little worse for wear. It seems such a shame, because I really enjoyed walking around the Otuataua Stonefields. There’s even an avocado orchard that you’re allowed take avocadoes from! The reserve could be a wonderful tourist attraction, especially being so close to the airport, and it seems there were once plans to make it so.

Otuataua Stonefields

To find out more about Ihumatao, the Otuataua Stonefields and the opposition to the housing development, see this website. I hope the peninsula isn’t ruined, and that the site eventually gets the respect it deserves. In the mean time, it’s still good to visit. If you’re into history, or just want to take a walk somewhere interesting with beautiful views, it’s a great place to kill an hour or two. It certainly satisfied my craving for dry stone walls!

Otuataua Stonefields

A Stroll through History

Howick Historical Village

I learnt a lot about the history of Auckland last weekend, both Maori and European. I walked across the Otuataua Stonefields, an archaeological site encompassing one of New Zealand’s earliest settlements, and I visited the Howick Historical Village. I greatly enjoyed my time at each of these places and definitely recommend including them on your New Zealand travels. I’ll talk about the historical village this week; the stonefields next week. So come on, grab your pretty, floral bonnets and step with me back in time to the Fencible Period.

Howick Historical Village

You’re probably wondering, as you search for your pretty, floral bonnet, what on earth the Fencible Period is. Well I was just as confused as you are now, but one of the first things you see upon entering Howick Historical Village is a sign providing a helpful explanation. ‘Fencible’ comes from the word ‘defencible’. There were a few ‘Fencible’ settlements around Auckland, made up of retired British Empire soldiers and their families. The soldiers were offered free passage to New Zealand, land and a cottage in return for seven years of military service. If anyone were to attack Auckland, they’d have to come through the ‘Fencibles’ first.

Howick Historical Village

Howick Historical Village comprises over thirty restored buildings from the mid-nineteenth century. The range of buildings is quite impressive, but the first place we headed for was the café at the entrance. (We’d just driven up from Hamilton and we were famished.) It’s a really good café, actually, with a nice verandah. I was with my partner, Tim. He’d already been to the village – on a school trip when he was a kid – and he wasn’t all that keen on going again. In the end, though, he was glad he did. He found it a lot better than he remembered, possibly because he’s able to appreciate the history more now.

Howick Historical Village

There was hardly anyone in the village, as we arrived later in the day, so walking around it was lovely and peaceful. (Despite the rugby match going on next-door!) It cost us $15 each to get in, but it was worth every penny. It’s better, I think, than the Taranaki Pioneer Village, which is very similar. The map we were given at the beginning was clear and contained good information about each of the buildings. We spent about two hours going round, but we did read all the information boards quite thoroughly. Tales about people immigrating to New Zealand always resonate with me – I’m so glad we live in the 21st century!

Howick Historical Village

The village was filled with lots of nice, little touches. In the schoolroom, for example, a somewhat creepy recording of children singing was playing. I didn’t know they used to have to sing their ABCs to the tune of God Save the Queen! While I liked having each building to ourselves, I wish we’d gone on a Live Day. On the third Sunday of every month, excluding December, the village comes to life, populated by costumed villagers. Tim knows a guy that does blacksmithing there. Oh, and you can have photos dressed up as well – how did I miss that? Dressing up in historical costumes is one of my favourite things to do!

Howick Historical Village

Howick Historical Village taught me a few things I wouldn’t otherwise have known. The history there is fantastically presented. It’s a brilliant place to go for locals and tourists alike. Be sure to check out more Places to go around Auckland that are fun and educational and I’ll see you next week.