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Published: 03 December 2016

By Andy Ross

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A New Zealand sojourn

Aoraki Mount Cook National ParkHello, dear readers. We are back from our New Zealand holiday, full of enthusiasm and energy. It is good to be back with you. In the immortal words of school, "here is what we did on our holidays".

New Zealand is a small country with amazing sights. We have seen oceans, mountains, plains and rainforest. We have had storms and blue sky, and the occasional earthquake, and we have spent time on the fantastic West Coast, that part of the land battered by storms and rain, and blessed with incredible forests and glaciers, rivers, animals, plants and birds. 

Auckland Museum conservation of the meeting houseOf course, it being a passion, we spent time looking at the fabrics from the isles. There is a new book for the library The Art of Maori Weaving, full of wonderful cloaks, baskets, clothing and dividers, and a serendipitous visit to the Auckland Museum enlightened us about the restoration and preservation of a Maori meeting house which is being cleaned of its "Museum Red" paint and restored to its earthy and rich colours. It is an intricate and detailed job, and we were lucky enough to be able to spend some time chatting to one of the people working on the project who explained how the colours were derived, and showed us how pieces of the woven screens were cut out and replaced by new weavings. There are some pictures below of the work in progress. 

Mount Cook National Park

As a child I remember seeing pictures of the famous hotel, The Hermitage, in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, and of the mountains for which the Park is named. But I never dreamed that one day we would see the spectacle. We spent two days in the Park, walking and wondering, surrounded by incredible scenery and in awe of the geological forces that grow mountains, and destroy them. 

Mount Cook

On our last night in the Park, we sat in The Hermitage lounge and watched Mount Cook glow orange and red as the setting sun struck the peaks. Romantic in the extreme, yes, and inspiring.

Holidays always seem to be a dream to me, once we are back, and it is hard to believe that a little over a week ago we were halfway across the world, exploring and wondering. (On our last full day we went to the zoo in Christchurch and hand fed lemurs. How about that for a wonderfully surreal experience!) And it is just as hard to believe that in three weeks' time we will be experiencing the shortest day and Christmas just after that.