Auckland, New Zealand (Aotearoa)
36° 51' S 174° 45' E
Jul 21, 2000 22:01
Distance 0km

Text written in: English

MOTAT & One Tree Hill

The weather was not a great deal better today but at least it was dry!  We left the YHA at around 0930hrs and proceeded down Queen Street to Customs Street, where we boarded a Stagecoach Auckland bus out to the Great North Road.

"MOTAT opened in 1964 and since then has been explored and enjoyed by millions of  local, national and international visitors. MOTAT is an interactive museum with a focus on creating a fun, visually stimulating environment for its visitors.

The Museum is built on a site that once pumped water drawn from Western Springs Lake to early Auckland homes and businesses. The Pumphouse, with its magnificent Beam Engine has had extensive conservation to ensure its significance in Auckland's history is preserved."

MOTAT is described as the largest and leading Museum of transport, technology and social history in New Zealand.  There are two sites spread over 40 acres.  The main entrance at the Great North Road (Western Springs site) houses road transport, a Victorian village, primary industries and the pioneers of aviation.  At 1010hrs we had our tickets and were free to wonder around the various indoor and outdoor exhibits.  It was very quiet indeed with very few visitors.  My first impression was of a jumbled collection of artifacts spanning a 100 year period.  The old school house reminded me of the Ulster Folk Park in Cultra, Northern Ireland.  Indeed MOTAT has a lot in common with the Ulster Folk Park and Transport Museum.

Erin was very taken with the Fire Engine, left out in the open at the Western Springs site.  She also loved the Activity Centre with its interactive displays and Tactile Dome.  We also made time to look at the various trams on display.  MOTAT run a tram service between the Western Springs site and the Sir Keith Park Memorial site (near the Zoo).  We were the only passengers on the ancient tram service.  I am led to believe that this section of tramway is one of only four in New Zealand.

The Sir Keith Park Memorial site contains the Aviation, Rail and Military sections.  There is even a Hawker Hurricane fighter at the entrance.  We entered the hanger and were astounded at the great collection of aircraft on display.  We saw an Avro Lancaster bomber, a V1 flying bomb (not many of them fell on Auckland during WW2!), a de Havilland Vampire jet fighter and best of all, a Short Solent flying boat. 

The Solent flying boat was built by Short Brothers at Belfast in the late 1940's.  In essence it developed from the wartime Sunderland flying boat.  The Solent is most famously associated with TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) and was operated from 1949 until 1960.  It started on the Auckland/Sydney route and was eventually used on the Coral route to Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tahiti.  The final service departed from Fiji on the 15th September 1960.  It represented the end of an era.  Belfast technology in the South Pacific.  Queen Elizabeth II once flew on a Short Solent TEAL service in the 1950's.  Erin Burnett crawled past the 'No Entry' sign and tried to climb aboard the MOTAT Solent!

We headed outside to view the rest of the exhibits.  Sadly the Short Sunderland appeared neglected.  Perhaps the Sunderland is work in progress?  I hope that one day it can be fully restored and moved to an indoor location to preserve it for future generations.  All in all I liked MOTAT.  The staff are informative and helpful but I got the feeling that the Museum could benefit from additional funding.  I wish it well for the future. 

At 1330hrs we left MOTAT and took the bus back into the centre of Auckland.  We stopped near the Post Office at Queen Elizabeth II Square and bought a New Zealand Stamp Yearbook for 1999 (for Erin); another memory of the year of her birth.  We then immediately hopped on another bus at 1415hrs and headed out to Cornwall Park & One Tree Hill Domain, located off the main Manukau Road.

"One Tree Hill Domain and the neighbouring Cornwall Park together form the largest area of parkland in Auckland city.

Maungakiekie is the largest and most complex volcanic cone fortress in the southern hemisphere. It has hundreds of living terraces, food store pits, defensive ditches and banks that for centuries supported a population of 5,000 people. From the tihi, signallers would communicate with the network of volcanic Pā across Tāmaki.

Sir John Logan Campbell, who is buried on the summit, gave the name One Tree Hill to Maungakiekie. He was inspired by the sacred Totara he saw on his first visit here in 1840. Te Totara i Ahua was cut down as part of the colonisation of Auckland during the 1850s and 60s. Campbell attempted to replace the Totara however only a single Monterey Pine survived."

Sir John Logan Campbell is one of the great founders of modern Auckland, along with another Scotsman, William Brown.  He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1817.  He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1839.  He arrived in New Zealand in 1840 and established himself in business in the Auckland area.  After success in this field he entered politics and became a member of parliament.  He also served as Mayor of Auckland.  In 1901 during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall & York, he donated parkland to the people of Auckland and named it after the Royal Couple (later King George V & Queen Mary).  Logan died in 1912 and was buried on top of his beloved One Tree Hill.

Before we tackled One Tree Hill we opted for a late lunch in a cafe across from the entrance to the Domain, near the Planetarium.  A bite to eat, a quick read of the newspapers, then off we went walking (and pushing Erin's buggy) to the top of One Tree Hill.  This is not Everest, but still a respectable hill & volcanic cone, reaching a height of 604 feet.  Once at the top we visited the Campbell Memorial and inspected the one tree, which has a terrible list and is held in places by chains.  The tree was attacked by a Maori protester in 1994 and badly damaged.  Strange given that Sir John Logan Campbell held the Maori people in such high regard.

"On the summit of the hill is the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell surmounted by an obelisk. The obelisk was constructed in accordance with the wishes and provisions in John Campbell's will to commemorate his admiration for the Maori people. Before it stands a bronze statue of a Māori warrior. The stone Obelisk was completed by 1940 – the centennial year of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi..."

We came down the hill and allowed Erin the opportunity to use the local playground, complete with model railway.  At 1640hrs we headed back into town on the bus.  We bought a few bits and pieces on the way up Queen Street; postcards, nappies, wipes etc.  Once back at the YHA, I looked after Erin and wrote my cards, whilst Ruth went to do some washing, drying and ironing (and checking the internet).

In the early evening we ventured out to the Mongolian Barbeque Restaurant, 407 Queen Street.  We tried this sort of concept back in 97 in Jerusalem.  Your pick your ingredients and sauces, then the chef stir fries them in front of you.  Of course you only have yourself to blame if the combination of ingredients does not work out.  It was all you can eat, but I felt that the food on previous nights was better.  Perhaps I just mixed the wrong items?  The beer was fine though! 

Photos / videos of "MOTAT & One Tree Hill":

Erin Burnett with her teddy, at the top of One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. Erin Burnett driving a Fire Engine at MOTAT, Auckland, New Zealand. Duncan & Erin Burnett at the top of One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. Duncan Burnett outside the Aviation Centre, MOTAT, Auckland, New Zealand. MOTAT Tram service, Auckland, New Zealand. Victorian school room at MOTAT, Auckland, New Zealand. Erin Burnett driving a fire engine at MOTAT, Auckland, New Zealand. Duncan & Erin Burnett next to the Short Solent flying boat at MOTAT, Auckland, New Zealand. One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. Duncan Burnett en route to the top of One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. The view from near the top of One Tree Hill, Auckland, looking towards North Head, Devonport. One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand.