Happy birfday, dear Auckland.

To celebrate the 165th anniversary of the founding of Auckland, I decided to visit the three attractions at Western Springs.

MOTAT
The last time I visited MOTAT was… probably sometime in the late ’80s, so I was expecting it to be different from then. But strangely enough, it wasn’t.

The place was dirty, dusty and falling apart. Compared to other science museums I’ve visited, like the Powerhouse in Sydney, Scienceworks in Melbourne, or even Exscite in Hamilton, MOTAT is a dull waste of time and money.

For example, there’s a collection of old trams, but that’s all they are. Just a shed full of old trams and buses and a few boards with photos of things like tram enthusiasts from the 1970s. No one is allowed on the get on the trams and buses, there’s little to help people imagine what it was like hooning around Auckland in, say, the 1930s.

All the potentially cool interactive stuff that kids like playing with is getting worn out. Equipment was dusty and dull in the ’80s grey colour scheme. Computer-based exhibits looks like they’re running on a Commodore-64. There was a room full of old electric equipment, but, really, who would find a selection of rusting old stoves to be interesting? I’d rather see something like a replica of a New Zealand house from the early days of electricity, all kitted out with newfangled radios, refrigerators and ovens.

Someone needs to throw $10 million at MOTAT and turn it from something that looks like it’s (and maybe even is) run entirely by volunteers, and into a really cool science museum that will actually be really enjoyable to visit.

Western Springs
Then I walked along to the adjacent Western Springs park. I’ve only previously been there during the Pasifika festival, so it was nice to experience the park without hundreds of people crowding around (though I missed the corned beef).

From my visit to MOTAT I had learned that the lake at Western Springs is kind of manmade. I think it used to be more like a little stream, but part of it was dammed, forming a more lake-like area. But it’s been like that for so long that it seems like it’s always been a lake.

The Zoo
I wasn’t actually planning on visiting the zoo, but I found myself getting close so I thought I’d pay a visit.

Signs around the zoo indicated that Dave Dobbyn played a concert there last weekend. Do the SPCA know about this, etc?

It always seems to change a little bit every time I go there. There’s now a massive new entrance area with a whole lot of ticket windows, and exiting is now no longer done through the gift shop. Does this mean that the zoo will see a decrease in the sales of plastic jelly animals?

I’ve realised now that the appeal of the zoo for me isn’t the animals. I like it better for the different environments that the animals live in. It’s kind of like the different theme gardens at the Hamilton Gardens, but with matching animals (which is a rather extravagant way to look at things).

I was looking at the orang-utan enclosure when I heard a out-of-sight mother scolding a very naughty child. “No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” she yelled. Walking away, I expected to see the mother and child around the corner, but instead a flustered-looking zookeeper came out of the side door of the orang-utan enclosure. Bad boy.

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