So, this weekend we spent our Saturday at the Auckland Museum and War Memorial.
It’s this really big building, marble and concrete and it looks as though it easily could have come from Washington DC. Complete with cannons outside. The unique thing about the Museum is that it’s in the middle of a rather large park, called the Domain, but we’ll get back to that later.
The Museum is divided up onto three floors, with the first floor being mainly cultural history, the second floor being natural history, and the third floor consisting of the Museums research library and the more modern history, along with the Memorial Hall for all those brave Kiwis who served and lost their lives serving in the various wars where Kiwis have been called to duty.
The first floor we spent most of our time in, exploring the different artifacts of the people of the Pacific Islands, not just New Zealand, but of most of the Islands in the area. Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, etc. It’s rather intriguing to me to look at these native peoples and compare them to the natives not only in Hawai’i but also to the native peoples in Alaska. There are some very similar attributes to both, not only in culture, but also physical. Yes, the natives from the Northwest US are lighter in skin tone, but it is not difficult to believe that there are some possible Polynesian roots as well, somewhere back in the family trees.
The intricacy of the artwork, the skill of the weavers and painters, everything is on display. The huge longhouse that they have made available to be walked through, though not set up for any particular use, other than to have a large longhouse, is still impressive. My first instincts in a longhouse is to look up, to find the smoke holes in the roof, but there were none. Probably because it presumably does not get cold enough in this environment to need to have a fire within the longhouse itself for warmth, it would probably have been lit outside for food preparation.
The Natural history portion of the museum was equally as fascinating. The amount of birds and plants that are endemic to New Zealand is just astounding. And the other impressive thing? There are no creatures to kill you here. Oh sure, there were Moa’s and other large animals way back when, but apparently New Zealand was formed by the volcanoes and other factors long before or after any poisonous creatures made their way here. So those huge spiders and dangerous mammals and terrifying snakes that you hear about in Australia? Nope, nothing like those here in New Zealand.
Now, the really interesting thing is that Auckland rests on volcanoes. Several of them in fact. And while there are some extinct volcanoes in the harbor, the volcanoes surrounding Auckland are actually only dormant.
Like Vesuvius. And Mt. St. Helens. Dormant. Let that sink in. Got it? Excellent. Now, much like with the Earthquakes to our south, there is no real way to be able to tell just when or if there will be a volcanic eruption. However, the measurements and scientific data are all carefully monitored and we should, in most realities, have some idea, or at least a few moments warning.
Yeah, not me either. But, can’t spend your life living in fear, so just keep on keeping on. We didn’t get up to the third floor, as the museum was going to be closing soon and we didn’t want to get stuck in there. After all, there was a stuffed elephant we wanted to see.
And then back out into the Domain we went.
Now, the Domain is the largest park on the North Island. And I believe one of the larger parks in the entire country. And it’s right in the center of the city. There are paths to walk, great fields to play games or picnic or whatever you want in. And plenty of venues for a wedding, or any party I would imagine. There is also a nice greenhouse, which they call the ‘Wintergarden’. When we went through that, there were eggplants (aubergines) of various varieties growing, many ornamental chilis, and lots of hanging vines and potted flowers. A koi pond with fountain and statues, and some lovely orchids.
I honestly can’t wait to get back to the Domain, to walk the trails, to bring my camera with me, which sadly I did not do this trip as it was raining rather insistently and I’m still rather cautious of getting the camera wet.
but next time, next time the camera will come along, and I will take many glorious, beautiful pictures of plants and trees and the huge expanse of green nestled quite happily in the middle of a vibrant city.
And for those of you chuckling and shaking your head, Central Park ain’t got nothing on this.