On our second day in Wellington we visited Te Papa, the huge museum that sits on the harbor edge. Here there are exhibits of history, natural science, Maori culture, art, and so much more. You could spend days in this place and not see all of it. We decided to focus on art (surprised?) and the first gallery housed many of the prize-winning costumes made in recent years for the WOW festival. This is a huge event like Santa Cruz' Fashion Art show on steroids. Combine Project Runway with Cirque de Soleil with Hollywood, throw in a bunch of amazing international artists and performers, and the result is a show unlike anything else. We saw a video of it at Geelong and were really astounded, so it was great to see the costumes.
We also saw a lot of beautiful Maori weaving, as well as some contemporary art. We were impressed that throughout the Museum, Maori language always comes first and English second, on every sign and exhibit description. This is usually true throughout NZ, showing a huge respect to the Maori population.
The museum is currently having a huge exhibit about T-Rex, that we didn't have time to see. But outside, in front, is a huge crate the size of a railroad car. Painted on the side it says "Live Specimen" with a painting of a Tyrannosaurus. When you walk near it, motion sensors detect your presence and huge roars come from inside the crate. Little children were delighted!
We also visited some contemporary art galleries in the city, then bought a take-away lunch and sat out in a giant sunny square on the harbor to picnic with dozens of other Wellingtonians who had the same idea.
Finally we drove out of town and headed north to Wanganui, our next destination. We found a campground right along the Whanganui River, featuring sheep and goats right outside the door. As we wandered around that town we really loved it. It is art centered (big art school here), and friendly and interesting. We had dinner "at home" in our camper van, then actually went out to the movies to see Gone Girl, which we didn't love. Oh well. It can't always be perfect!
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