Agnes and I had a big day of heavy duty museum visiting planned for today however as it did not open until 10:00 am we got to sleep in. Then down to a local coffee shop for a little breakfast and a large Flat White.
We decided to take a taxi out to the Museum Of Transportation And Technology (MOTAT) and that was a good move as it put us there at 2 minutes past 10:00 am and we were the second people through the door. MOTAT is a huge museum spread across 40 hectares and on two separate locations.
The first site is built on the original Auckland water pumping facility. As Auckland was short of water they constructed this huge water delivery system to deliver water from the nearby mountain lakes. At the heart was this huge walking beam steam engine. It is three stories high and has four wooden stave cylinders. The flywheel has to be 10 meters across. It delivered something like 300 hp. Although it was not running today it does still run today. There are something like 24 separate galleries on this site which cover everything imaginable from old time black smith shops to computers and a gallery of new ideas and inventions. One claim to fame they have is that they have one of two of the world’s oldest motorized fire engines.
They have a large gallery devoted to Sir Edmond Hillary’s trek across Antarctic which was the first land trek to the South Pole by land. There is one of the original tractors he used which is fitted with tracks. He used a lot of different things on this project including these u-shaped pieces of corrugated metal up ended to connect the huts, thereby avoiding all the digging out of the huts after ever snow fall and you could go from hut to hut even in a storm. There are lots of other artifacts from his trek and a great write up on this very unique piece of history. It was extremely interesting.
A large part of the area is devoted to the electric tram system which was installed in Auckland in 1906 and operated until 1956. They have a huge collection of restored trams. The trams all operate off DC power. The DC is converted from AC using these huge glass mercury filled converters. When the electricity is flowing through them they glow this bright purple. It is right out of a Frankenstein movie with the arcing electricity. We walked our feet off but man was it ever interesting.
So after a quick bite to eat we got on the electric tram and took a ride over to the second site which is a huge aircraft hangar. In there they have a great collection of aircraft. They have a Lancaster bomber which served in Germany and was flown to New Zealand to participate in bombing raids against Japan but never did. There is a four engine flying boat which was part of the Coral Pacific Airlines fleet and is currently being restored. It dwarfs the Lancaster. There are a lot of other aircraft which saw service with the New Zealand air force starting with early biplanes up to modern jets, as well as a good collection of civilian planes. They had a lot of aircraft we do not see in North American. It was very impressive.
We decided to try the local bus system. It was pretty funny as Agnes was looking the wrong way for the bus to come and then when I waved one down she was startled. We both had a good laugh about driving on the wrong side. The bus worked out great and we were downtown and within a couple of blocks of the hotel in short order.
Tonight we have to pack our bags as we check out and fly home tomorrow night.