The day started with a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the Botany collection. Te Papa's curators had carefully selected some treasures to show us, from plants collected by Solander on Cook's 1st voyage 1768-1771
|Solander's collection orchid and tree fern|
to the now extinct Cook's scurvy plant
|Cook's scurvy plant|
and items from a historic lichen collection preserved in handmade books and boxes to hold the rocks that the lichens were growing on.
We soon got the message that the collection isn't just about preserving 'old stuff', we were shown how the ferns in the collection enabled a curator to make and exciting find a new tangle fern, and how the curators also are out and about looking at live plants and making discoveries such as how fungus gnats may be pollinating spider orchids who are disguising themselves as fungus - wow nature can be really weird.
Next stop was the Te Papa storehouse in Tory Street for more weird and wonderful stuff.
Here the queue snaked through the fish preservation area (no photos allowed due the flammable nature of the preservation material) to the subterranean vaults with skeletons, fossils, shells, and lots more.
|Giant land snail shells|
|A collection of sea stars|
|Tiny snipe and their huge eggs|
|A stuffed kakapo|