Tuesday 23 February 2016

NZ Roadtrip Nelson: Costumes, cars and the Cotswolds

Our last full day in the South Island, and we passed through a bit of the Mainland I don't know very well since I've always done what we did today - head straight for Nelson. After the rough-hewn and perpetually weather-challenged West Coast, the inland route up through Reefton and Murchison is cushy and comfortable: good farming country with sheep, cows and deer, surrounded by green hills and cut through by the Buller River. Every so often there would be tempting roads off to right and left that it would have been fun to explore, and at one point we went past an intriguing barn/house affair with a big rotating wheel towards which an out-of-place man in a white business shirt was walking - another of life's unsolved mysteries.
We pushed on to Nelson, bathed in its habitual sunshine, cathedral on its hill at the top of Trafalgar Street, which is lined with appealing pubs, heritage buildings, cafes, restaurants and an excellent bookshop. I liked the public piano on the footpath, too. It's a pretty place, and deservedly popular.
The thing to do here is to visit the World of Wearable Arts museum, which celebrates the origins of WOW, now an international event which has been shamelessly stolen by Wellington. But the museum traces the story from its beginning - told in a leisurely and interesting video centred on the 2015 show - and has enough of the costumes/artworks on display to satisfy anyone. It's amazing to see them up close, and to be able to appreciate the artistry and cleverness of the construction.
It's a clever move, too, to have an adjoining classic car museum for those other halves who (foolishly) think dramatic costuming is not their thing. I was quietly delighted to find a couple of vintage Renaults there, very similar to the 1912 model I had an acquaintance with in my teens, and did a rally in over the Port Hills from Christchurch.
The others enjoyed a bit of Englishness that evening at the Honest Lawyer pub, which would fit easily into any Cotswold village you care to name - but I am still sick and went, unfed, early to bed.

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