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Whatz dat? Who dat? MOTAT!

10 February 2010

Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)

Auckland New Zealand

MOTAT 1     [36º 52′ 03″ S / 174º 43′ 40″ E]

MOTAT 2     [36º 51′ 35″ S / 174º 42′ 59″ E]

Most people probably arrive into New Zealand by flying into Auckland Airport and that is good. You have to love the natural Kiwi tendency to understate, as this is an international airport, in these days when an airfield may have one out of country and seasonal destination yet insist on having “international” in the airport’s name — as if no one will notice that a technicality has been artificially expanded into a generality. Unusually for my country, the USA, the airport has an observation deck as well as aircraft on display. [More on this] Auckland is an international destination and is populated by many ethic peoples. Yet, the city is not so large and can be easily walked about to see the sights. I especially enjoyed the harbor and the architecture in the main downtown area. However, parts of Auckland are a fair distance from the city center — the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is an excellent example, but is easily reached by metro bus.

Replica Hawker Hurricane at MOTAT 2 photo by Joe May

Replica Hawker Hurricane at MOTAT 2 — photo by Joe May

MOTAT consists of two campuses, MOTAT 1 (the main museum) and MOTAT 2 (the aviation museum), which are connected by a quaint wooden tram. The main campus has an exhibit dedicated to Richard Pearse* and his flying machine, though. Off subject for a moment, there is also a wonderfully restored steam engine that formerly powered the water plant, the original source of Auckland’s potable water — it is called the Pumphouse Beam Engine. This engine is a wonder to see and I was amazed to learn that it is assembled from massive pieces of forged and cast iron!

The Aviation Display Hall houses the aircraft collection and it is a hangar that is packed full. So full that one must weave through the displays and exhibits but charming all the same. One of the last Short Bros. Solents (civilian version of the RAF’s Sunderland) is on display and looks as if it could fly at a moment’s notice. As a fan of seaplanes I was most excited to see this exhibit and ecstatic that a gantry was in place so that I could view into various parts of the Solent’s interior, including the flight deck. Another exciting exhibit for me was the Avro Lancaster Mk VII— the graceful four engine tail dragging aircraft that she is. There is yet another of the world’s more beautiful aircraft designs located there — the de Havilland Dragon Rapide.

Short Bros. Solent — photo by Joe May

Short Bros. Solent — photo by Joe May

de Havilland Dragon Rapide — photo by Joe May

de Havilland Dragon Rapide — photo by Joe May

When I visited in 2008 there were several interesting aircraft outside and behind the hangar, as well as another building, the “Blister Hangar”, under construction to house more aircraft. I understand from MOTAT’s website that the Blister Hangar has been completed and is now employed for aircraft restoration work.

There are facilities, things for children aplenty and an excellent café located at MOTAT  1  — all for a fair entry charge.

Short Bros. Sunderland (note the bow turret) — photo by Joe May

Short Bros. Sunderland (note the bow turret) — photo by Joe May

* For more on Richard Pearse and his pioneering airplane please see the tab This blog, (above).

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