Before leaving Wellington, we went to the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand on the advice of the Auckland museum director. We got there 10 minutes before the opening and queued (we do that now) for the exhibit “Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War.” It was a very moving display told through personal stories of the soldiers (and one nurse). Larger than life 3-D displays of the soldiers (and one nurse) were amazing. The museum is 6 floors and includes an art and photography gallery, Maori culture, and an exhibit showing New Zealand’s ties with the U.K. There is an outdoor exhibit of the different plants and wildlife throughout the region. A beautiful museum and it was free!

We drove to Wellington airport to catch our flight to Nelson on the south island. After a quick curry and naan in the terminal, we boarded our aircraft. Are you in first class when your knees are jammed up against the pilot’s seat? Steve, our friendly pilot, didn’t look old enough to drive, let alone fly an airplane. He told us there had been an earthquake in Christchurch earlier and that affected the air control. That meant we would be flying at a much lower altitude, not in controlled airspace, so practically a sightseeing tour. I’m not a big fan of flying and this is by far the smallest aircraft I’ve ever been on, so just a bit of white knuckling on my part. At one point Steve turned around and asked how it was going. I wanted to yell at him to turn around and watch where he was going, and when he started writing on a clipboard I really felt his hands belonged on the steering wheel (sorry I don’t know the technical term). All in all, it was a good flight over some gorgeous land formations. As we were walking into the terminal with one of the ground crew, Shawn said he thought about asking Steve if he could sit up front and she said he probably would have let you.

Steve and his damn iPad

We are staying at Quest Nelson for 3 nights. It’s a neat little modern hotel with studios in the heart of Nelson. William, the concierge, suggested his favorite taproom down the street so we stopped in for some beer and chips. The Free House is a converted church. Shawn had Super Dank and I had a porter while sitting the in shade of a hops covered trellis.

One of the brochures we picked up in the hotel lobby lists taprooms and breweries. On Sunday night this town seems to close down pretty early, but we found a brewery about 15 minutes outside of town that advertised later hours and pizza. When we got to Eddyline Brewery, there was one car in the parking lot. Never a good sign. We went in and learned they were still under construction and would open Friday. We got to meet the brewer and his whole family. They are from Colorado and own a brewery there. They decided to move to New Zealand a couple years ago to open a brewery and have been working out all the details since. When asked, the kids said they were all very happy about the move (it’s always good to be the kid with the cool accent at school). It looks like it will be a great place with its long natural wood bar and great hop shaped lights.

Back in town, we found another brewery unlisted in the brochure, so we opted for our Valentine’s dinner at Mac’s Brewery The Vic and caught a bit of rugby on TV. If you travel across the international dateline, do you get to celebrate Valentine’s Day twice?

Cured salmon salad

Chicken pot pie

Daily ratings:
Airport curry: 3.5 Kiwis
The Free House: 4 Kiwis
Mac’s Brewery: 4 Kiwis
Te Papa Museum: 4.5 Kiwis
Steve the Pilot: 5 Kiwis…because it could have been so much worse

Steps taken = 6,726
Prayers uttered in super tiny aircraft = too many to count