Quaratine Barracks On Matiu Island

Quaratine and immigration barrack on Matiu Island Buy or view the Ōtepoti | Dunedin gallery

During World War I these buildings on Matiu Island were used as quarantine barracks to hold enemy aliens who were considered a risk to New Zealand’s security.  Around 300 prisoners were held on the island, most of whom were German nationals. 

In World War II the island again became an internment camp. The prisoners were primarily German however there were also a large number of Italian and Japanese. The prisoners were required to do road-building, gardening and fishing. 

This building that still survives was part of the immigration barracks which were originally built for the influenza pandemic 1919.

5 Days, 4 Nights In Wellington.

Wellington City

Day 5 – I’d spent the previous night enjoying the sights and sounds of Courtney Place. Earlier in the day I had enjoyed a delicious and wonderful lunch at Mr Go’s. Having been to Mr Go’s on previous trips, and with less than 24 hours left in the city, I simply had to enjoy the Asian Fusion Restaurant before I left. My taste buds had drawn me to the mouth wateringly good Pork Belly Bao Bun and Pork Dumplings. Now, many hours later I found myself sitting in a bar called the Welsh Dragon with my stomach hungry for food. Approaching the Welsh Dragon, I had initially thought it was a deserted building in the middle of a median strip. But, it turned out to be an old historic public toilet that has been converted into possibly the most laid back and down to earth pub in the whole CBD. There were no fancy flashing lights, drums hanging from the ceiling or large neon lights that were accompanied with extremely loud music. It was a friendly, hospitable pub, no more than that. I felt at home instantly.

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5 Days, 4 Nights In Wellington.

Gollum At Weta Workshops

Day 4 – It’s interesting in Aotearoa that so much of our national history seems to start with European Explorers. For example, Able Tasman is credited with the discovery of New Zealand in 1642. The story goes that the good Mr Tasman, having sailed for nearly 140 days, and upon sighting the West Coast of the South Island, he decided he couldn’t really be bothered stopping and kept sailing. Our history books then jump to Captain Cook’s navigation of New Zealand in 1769. From there, we’re told about European encounters with Māori until the lead-up to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. 

Until more recent times, it appears that everyone forgot that Polynesian migration and settlement in Aotearoa occurred between 1250 – 1300. A good 350 years before Able Tasman decided he was feeling adventurous and set sail and around 450 years before Captain Cook landed in Poverty Bay. Having spent the previous day wandering around Matiu Island, I decided some further personal education of Māori settlement was in order.

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5 Days, 4 Nights In Wellington.

Matiu/Somes Island Lighthouse.

Day 3 – Matiu/Somes Island’s claim to fame is wide and varied. Lying in Wellington Harbour it’s history dates back to the early Polynesian Explorer Kupe, and since then it has been a Maori Pa site, a quarantine station, an internment camp, a military defensive position and is now a wildlife reserve and sanctuary looked after by the Department of Conservation. 

My plan for the day was to ferry across the harbour to Days Bay and an area called Eastbourne. I had purchased my ticket from a young lady who was without a doubt one of the most friendly, helpful and polite receptionist I’ve ever met. Upon my inquiry for a return ticket across the harbour she politely informed me that the next ferry was actually stopping at Matiu/Somes Island which apparently wasn’t very big ‘but definitely worth a visit’. ‘Well, why not I said’. So, after a short but enjoyable board ride I found myself standing on an island in the middle of Wellington Harbour.

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5 Days, 4 Nights In Wellington.

Midnight Espresso

Day 2 – I awoke in the morning feeling refreshed and very well rested. The previous day I’d spent 90 minutes flying and 480 minutes at Christchurch Airport so now I was more than ready for a walk and something to eat.

I ate breakfast at a very retro place called Midnight Espresso. After ordering, I sat in the window watching rain fall and Cuba Street slowly come to life, passing the time marveling at how maple syrup instantly improves bacon and banana pancakes. When finally my stomach was full, and my plate empty, I set off into the sleepy Wellington streets.

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5 Days, 4 Nights In Wellington

Day 1 continued – It all started with a noise that didn’t sound quite right. Clearly this is not something you want to be thinking having just taken off on an A320 Airbus heading to 30,000 feet. The next thing that happen was the captain and cabin crew informed us that there was a problem with the landing gear and our flight to Wellington would be making an unscheduled stop in Christchurch. As I sat there watching the coast and listening to a plane that seemed to be rattling more than a car I once owned, two thoughts crossed my mind. Firstly, it was moments like this that you wish Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis are on the plane. Secondly, having watched Mayday, I was confident I knew what to do.

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5 Days, 4 Nights In Wellington

Solace of the Wind

Day 1 – I like Wellington, I think it’s the waterfront that grabs me the most. Whenever I’m in there I always make a point of having at least one wander along and around the harbour area. You see, I always find myself feeling a little bit jealous that Dunedin hasn’t made the most of its own harbour area. They say you can’t beat Wellington on a good day, and this certainly is true. When the weather is fine, and the wind is calm it’s one of my favourite places to amble. There’s always a pop-up store or two to enjoy, various markets and a wide variety of funky art installations to capture the imagination. Of all the art installations, my personal favorite is Max Patte’s statute ‘Solace In The Wind’.

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