Robyn, 31, Sagittarius

I was planning on another day in Palmy yesterday, but just after I wrote my last LJ entry, I logged into MSN and Regan Idolblog messaged me with the news that not only was he in Wellington, but he had tickets to the Sunday taping of the NZ Idol performance show. OMG OMG OMG.

So I hopped in my car and hooned down to Wellington, and – as if by magic – the rainy grey skies turned into brilliant blue skies and golden sunshine along the Kapiti Coast. When I arrived in the capital, I was reminded of how happy Wellington makes me. It’s just such a cool city.

I wandered around town for a bit before heading over to the St James. I have to admit that part of my decision to go to the Idol taping was because it was in the St James. I’d never been there before and I wanted to check it out. It is indeed a nice old theatre, although I’m not too sure about the barn-like new foyer that’s been build on next to the old theatre.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see any of the current Idol series and I don’t know who anyone is, but I did learn the following: there is this one guy called Ben and he is quite cute, but he is also a really good singer and if you say he isn’t you are just jealous.

There were many Ben fans sitting near me. They screamed a lot. My ears started to hurt. He’s probably a shoo-in for the top 10.

Then I drove back to my motel in Palmy, discovering along the way that since having Lasik, my night vision is quite shit and I probably shouldn’t drive at night.

Even though I wasn’t planning to go to Wellington, now that I’ve been there I think I’m going to have to go back and make that the last stop on my tour de North Island.

Palmy II

The Manawatu seems to now define itself as The Place With The Wind Turbines. The turbines feature in the logo of the Manawatu District Council, on the cover of the latest phonebook, and the Manawatu rugby team are called the Turbos, complete with stylised wind turbine blades in their logo. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the region’s identity when other turbines are build around New Zealand.

I drove out to the viewing platform at Ashurst and… viewed the turbines. Is this what power companies mean that such turbines bring tourism benefits? I went for a drive up among the turbines in the hill, but even that was a bit boring.

Then I discovered that on the other side of the Manawatu Gorge is the little village of Mangatainoka, home of the Tui brewery, mate, so I set off there.

I missed the turn off at Woodville (yes, there appears to be a town in New Zealand called Woodville), and ended up driving all the way to Dannevirke.

Dannevirke, if you believe the town’s self-image, was founded by Vikings. Well, I suppose if Stratford can turn its Taranakiness into a Shakespearean wonderland, Dannevirke can pretend that its Danish and Norweigian settlers were Vikings.

So I finally made it to Mangatainoka, and indeed there was the Tui brewery. I visited the gift shop and bought a “Yeah, right” fridge magnet set, with which I can subvert the dominant paradigm and make things like “Chicks dig projectile vomiting. Yeah, right.” Interestingly, the set comes with only two pieces of punctuation – two exclamation marks, but i dont see whats wrong with that!!

After that I headed back to Palmy, and drove out to Massey University. It’s possibly the prettiest university setting – lush woodland. I also drove around the previously mentioned Savage Crescent (twice!), which is an equally pretty state housing suburb.

The film festival is on here, and I saw “Who killed the electric car?”. Most of the audience seemed to be lefties – who snickered every time George Bush said anything, regardless of whether it was snickerworthy – and beardy scientist-looking fellows, the sort who could probably build an electric car in an afternoon. The film made me feel a bit guilty for driving around in my rental car, but, uh, I’m stick with it for a few more days.

To the southeast

So I bid farewell to Wangaz and hit State Highway 3, heading southeast.

Ratana
I was hooning along when I saw an signpost pointing to Ratana. “Hey, it’s that place,” I thought. So I turned off and drove to Ratana Pa. It’s a curious little place – a settlement wholly centres around the Ratana movement. There’s the temple, some houses and a few other related buildings, and that’s about it. It’s all very nicely kept, but I felt a bit weird being there.

Feilding (i before e, except after journalism school)
Mr Slack recommended Feilding because it was sale day. I also discovered that it was market day too, so I bought some apples and fudge. Feilding appears to be a town for a rich farmers. I was surprised at the number of little boutiquey shops that sold the sort of nick-knacks that people with too much money buy.

I wandered down to the saleyards (sadly I was too late for the guided tour), but I saw some farmers up on the platforms admiring the bottoms of the cows, or whatever it is they do up there. It smelt like fresh cow poo, which isn’t an entirely unpleasant smell, but you’d probably have to have grown up on a farm to appreciate that.

There’s a clock tower in the middle of Feilding. It was playing music from a speaker, which seemed to alternate between a Spanish guitar type song and some ’90s house music. This is a direct threat to Stratford’s glockenspiel clock tower.

Palmerston North
It seemed like a good enough place to stay for a few more nights, so I found a nice motel (albeit one where some middle-aged bogans were having a loud party last night). Yesterday I visited Te Manawa, the art gallery, museum and science centre.

The art gallery had a good selection of exhibits, with Lauren Lysaght’s “Trifecta” works, a garden made of old racetrack signs of horses names and betting slips, retrospective of Natalie Woodhams, and two films by Annee Olafson.

The museum had an interesting exhibit on Savage Crescent, one of the first state housing developments in New Zealand. It included an old government propaganda film from the 1940s (I think), that showed a young married couple unable to afford to buy a house or even able to rent a nice one. Yes, well.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do today. I seem to have exhausted Palmy’s treasures in one day. I could, like, drive out to the wind turbines.