Not here today #11


Rotorua Museum, Government Gardens, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie

The Bath House in Rotorua was opened in 1908 as a spa where visitors could “take the waters” from the city’s extensive network of thermal springs. It was the New Zealand government’s first major investment in tourism.

This rather grand half-timbered building, built (for some reason) in the Elizabethan Revival style, was designed by Dr Arthur Stanley Wohlmann — a balneologist (expert on medicinal springs) appointed by the government to advise on the development of New Zealand’s thermal areas into spa-style resorts.

In 1947, management of the building was transferred to the government’s Health Department, and the facilities continued to be used for medicinal purposes until the 1960s.

Rotorua Museum opened in the south wing of the Bath House in 1969; Rotorua Art Gallery opened in the north wing in 1977. In 1988, the museum and gallery combined to form the Rotorua Museum of Art and History.

In late 2016, the building was assessed as not meeting New Zealand’s new earthquake standards, and closed indefinitely.



Rotorua Museum

Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand: Arthur Wohlmann

The Changing Seasons: January 2019

all done with a chainsawStihl more to do. Image: Su Leslie 2019

There are worse metaphors for my month than the Big T’s chainsaw.

There have been days when I’ve effortlessly cut through “the big stuff”, and others when it’s felt like my plans and good intentions have been chopped off at the knees.

But overall, we managed to tackle some jobs that have been over-long in the “too hard” basket, and reward ourselves with a few escapes from our normal landscape.

I’ve already posted shots from most of these trips, (very poor planning) so here are a some from a long-delayed visit to The Lighthouse (see below), an exploration of the walk and cycleway under Mangere Bridge (we weren’t even sure it existed), a visit to the beautiful Northland beach at Whananaki where T and I once camped, and a few days in Rotorua.

A highlight of that trip was the Redwoods Tree Walk; 28 connected suspension bridges, up to 20 metres off the ground in the midst of the redwood forest. I hate heights — but it was fabulous. It is open until 11pm, and the forest is lit up at night, but there were massive queues the evening we considered it, while we had the daytime walk almost to ourselves.

It hasn’t felt like a particularly creative month. I messed around with a design for a tote to hold a couple of bottles of wine, on the basis that this (suitably filled) would make a good gift. The design is good, but I’m struggling with execution.

In the kitchen, my sourdough obsession has produced a few attempts at pizza / pizza bread. I’m definitely getting there, and T is happy for me to keep experimenting!!

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.



Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Tish at Writer on the Edge

The Covert Novelist

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Deb at The Widow Badass

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

Jude at Living on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Sarah at Art Expedition

Yvette at Priorhouse blog



The Lighthouse is a work of public art by NZ sculptor Michael Parakowhai. It’s sited at the very end of Queen’s Wharf in the CBD and from the outside, is a 1:1 scale replica of a New Zealand “state house” of the 1950s. The interior is completely open and contains clustered neon lights and a large scale statue of Captain Cook (there is an identical sculpture in the New South Wales Art Gallery).

It’s an interesting work — with the interior defying expectations. I didn’t manage to capture any particularly good interior shots, but there is one in this article. And uou can read more about it here.

No visitors today — or any day soon

The Bath House, home of Rotorua Museum, closed until further notice. Image: Su Leslie 2019

The 2016 earthquake centred around Kaikoura in the South Island, left its mark on many other parts of New Zealand.

Seven hundred kilometres away, the much-loved (and much-photographed) 1908 Bath House in Government Gardens, Rotorua, was deemed unsafe for use and closed for earthquake strengthening.

North Wing, The Bath House, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie 2019

The processes of working out how strengthening can be done, how long it will take — and how much it will cost — are underway.

Meanwhile, there are no visitor voices in the rather lovely galleries, and no footsteps on the parquet floors.

Posted to Silent Sunday

Close encounters of the bird kind (sorry, really, I couldn’t resist)

Close-up shot of juvenile NZ falcon named Hisan, at the Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan, a juvenile NZ falcon. Seen at the Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre in Rotorua has been on my list of places to visit for a while, and last weekend the Big T and I finally got there.

The Centre was established out of a commitment by a group of individuals to preserve the native NZ falcon, or Karearea, and other threatened native birds of prey.

Wingspan supports wild populations directly by releasing captive bred falcons and rehabilitating injured wild birds. Through research and advocacy, Wingspan also supports long-term sustainable conservation action by identifying the reasons for the decline in wild populations and promoting action to reverse this. — Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre

As well as aviaries for the birds currently being bred, rehabilitated or permanently cared for, the Centre also has a fascinating collection of falconry items in its museum.

Juvenile Karearea (NZ Falcon) resting on falconer's gauntlet at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Roytorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

A snack while the audience assembles. Hisan the Karearea eating rabbit held in the falconer’s gauntlet. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan the Karearea snacking on rabbit at the Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Making short work of it. Hisan the Karearea snacking on rabbit. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan, juvenile Karearea, at Wingpsan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie

Hisan, juvenile Karearea, at Wingpsan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie

But the highlight of a visit to Wingspan is watching a flying display. I confess I’m always dubious about attractions that seem to involve “performing” animals, but at Wingspan, the focus is on the bird’s welfare and development. We were told that Hisan, the juvenile Karearea we saw, is a good candidate for release into the wild. But for that to happen, the Centre staff need to be sure he has the skills to survive. So while Hisan’s afternoon flight sessions are highly entertaining for watching humans, they are vital to his development and well-being.

NZ falcon at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, held by staff member during display. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

An explanation to the audience before Hisan was released. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan, juvenile Karearea, getting ready for flight at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Ready for take-off. Image” Su Leslie, 2016

We were told that Hisan’s flights were becoming longer and taking him further from “home” — signs of his maturity. It meant quite a lot of waiting around for us, but I felt much better knowing that Hisan’s welfare wasn’t being compromised for our entertainment.

Hisan, a juvenile Karearea in flight at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Hisan in flight. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Karearea eating meat attached to falconer's lure, Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Caught! Hisan devouring the meat attached to the falconer’s lure. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Heidi, Hisan’s trainer, swung a feathered lure on a long rope to attract Hisan back to her. His skills are developed by intercepting the lure while it’s airborne.

Juvenile Karearea, at Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Image: Su Leslie, 2016

When Hisan returned to his trainer, everyone in the audience was able to don the gauntlet and experience this beautiful bird up close.

Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre falcon trainer readies the gauntlet on a boy's hand to attract Hisan. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Baiting the gauntlet with meat for Hisan. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Big T with Hisan. Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The Big T with Hisan. Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre, Rotorua. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Both the Big T and I are still raving about our afternoon at the Wingspan Centre. We loved that it provided a really down-to-earth, interesting visitor experience in an environment that is fundamentally about conserving a beautiful native species of bird which is threatened by loss of habitat and other forces.

News Flash: in the last couple of days, Hisan has made his first kill — an important milestone on the road to his release into the wild.


Great news from the Wingspan Trust FaceBook page.

The Wingspan Birds of Prey Centre is at:

1164 Paradise Valley Road, Ngongotaha, Rotorua 3072, NZ

Phone +64 7 357 4469