Curious Clocks in New Zealand

Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but after seeing the neat historical clock in the Old Bank Arcade in Wellington I thought I’d look for other curious clocks around the country. There’s no better place to start than a clock museum …..

Claphams Clock Museum, Town Basin, Whangarei
Claphams Clock Museum in Whangarei has over 1600 clocks and timepieces. The collection was started in 1961 when the Whangarei City Council paid a token sum for 400 clocks belonging to local man Archibald Clapham.

Gymnast alarm clock at Claphams Clock Museum

Gymnast alarm clock at Claphams Clock Museum

Archibald was an aspiring clock-maker turned clock collector and he welcomed people into his home to see his many clocks. He was known for his sense of humour and his favourite clocks had unusual moving parts like the Dickory Dickory Dock Clock – the clock strikes one and down the mouse runs ……

Hickory Dickory Dock Clock at Claphams Clock Museum, made in North America c1910

Hickory Dickory Dock Clock at Claphams Clock Museum, made in North America c1910

The Oswald Company in Germany made these curious clocks – the eyeballs rotate to tell the time, one eye tells the hour, the other the minutes.

Oswald rotating eye clocks at Claphams Clock Museum

Oswald rotating eye clocks at Claphams Clock Museum

Below is a large Hunting Clock made in Germany circa 1890. Incorporated into the clock design are all sorts of things associated with hunting – guns, a stags head, a rabbit, an ammunition pouch and a bird.

Cuckoo clocks at Clapham Clocks Museum

Cuckoo clocks at Clapham Clocks Museum

Entry to Claphams Clock Museum is $10 adults, children $4. While inside the museum you hear the sounds of ticks and tocks and cuckoo clocks, outside the museum the giant sun dial tells the time in silence, at least it does when the sun’s shining.

Giant sun dial outside Claphams Clock Museum in Whangarei

Giant sun dial outside Claphams Clock Museum in Whangarei

Auckland Floral Clock
There is a floral clock in Albert Park in Auckland that was built in 1953 to commemorate the first visit to New Zealand by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. The clock was donated by Mr & Mrs Robert Laidlaw, Robert Laidlaw being the founder of Farmers Trading Company, known now as Farmers.

Floral clock in Albert Park, Auckland

Floral clock in Albert Park, Auckland

The Waterworks, 471 The 309 Road, Coromandel Town
The Waterworks has all sorts of curious contraptions including a large water powered pendulum clock. (A blog post about The Waterworks).

Water powered clock at The Waterworks

Water powered clock at The Waterworks

Clock World & Longitude Cafe, Ohaupo
You can buy clocks and coffee at Clock World in Ohaupo. When I visited they were selling what could be the Kiwi version of the cuckoo clock – a Hannah Holstein cow clock with a cow that pops out on the hour to moo.

Hannah Holstein Cow Clock

Hannah Holstein Cow Clock

Taumarunui Train Clock
Taumarunui was once a thriving railway town and its history is remembered with the train clock, and in the lyrics to the song ‘Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line’ … ‘I’m an ordinary joker, growin’ old before me time, ’cause me hearts in Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line ..’ written by Peter Cape.

Taumarunui Train Clock

Taumarunui Train Clock

Stratford Glockenspiel, Broadway
Glockenspiel means playing clock, the Stratford glockenspiel plays part of the Shakespearean love story ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Romeo and Juliet pop out of various places in the clock tower before uniting on the balcony, their movements are accompanied by music and spoken words. The glockenspiel plays for about 5 minutes after the clock bells have rung at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 7pm. If you don’t know that Stratford is dairy farming country it’s likely you will after stopping to watch the glockenspiel, milk tankers continuously pass by.

Stratford Glockenspiel

Stratford Glockenspiel

Stratford was once called Stratford-on-Patea but it must have been decided that it should have a connection to Shakespeare’s birth place – Stratford-Upon-Avon in England. Many of Stratford’s streets are named after Shakespearean characters and the glockenspiel continues that theme. While the love story the glockenspiel tells is set on distant shores, the mechanics were made by a local engineering firm and the wooden figurines were made by the talented Nigel Ogle, the man behind Tawhiti Museum in Hawera.

Stratford Glockenspiel characters Romeo & Juliet

Stratford Glockenspiel characters Romeo & Juliet

Colyton Clocks, Colyton (8km from Feilding)
If you’re a travelling horologist (maker of timepieces) or just like clocks, I’ve read that Colyton Clocks near Feilding has a collection of over 3000.

Waipawa Clock Shop, Waipawa (Hawke’s Bay)
The Waipawa Clock Shop was closed when we passed by but it has a quaint exterior.

Waipawa Clock Shop

Waipawa Clock Shop

Napier Floral Clock
Napier’s floral clock is on Marine Parade and was given to its citizens by Mr and Mrs AB Hurst in 1955. Mr Hurst was a member of the Thirty Thousand Club, a club that fundraised for the development of Marine Parade. One of the aims of the Thirty Thousand Club was to promote Napier and get its population to 30,000, the population reached 30,000 in the 1960’s but the club continued until the mid ’70s.

Floral clock on Marine Parade, Napier

Floral clock on Marine Parade, Napier

Old Bank Shopping Arcade, Lambton Quay, Wellington
The Old Bank Shopping Arcade is worth a walk through if you’re in Wellington. The arcade is only small but it’s a beautifully restored ex Bank of New Zealand building with a few places to stop for a cup of coffee or tea. It’s also home to my favourite curious clock – the musical and animated Old Bank Clock.

The Old Bank Clock, Wellington

The Old Bank Clock, Wellington

Every hour on the hour the clock opens up to show and tell part of Wellington’s history – a Union Jack flag is raised, a trumpet is sounded, and a construction worker pops his head out of a hole, it’s neat.

The Old Bank Clock, Wellington

The Old Bank Clock, Wellington

Close up - Old Bank Clock

Close up – Old Bank Clock

National Debt Clock
A clock I’m pleased I don’t own – the online National Debt Clock currently shows that each NZ citizen owes $24,971.

Apartment in a Clock Tower
You would always be on time if you rented this unusual apartment in the Quest Wellington building.

Christchurch Floral Clock
Both the Christchurch and Auckland floral clocks were gifted to citizens by the owners of retail chains. The floral clock on Victoria Square in Christchurch was given by Calder McKay Co Ltd in 1953, the stores were bought by Farmers Trading Co in 1970.

Christchurch Floral Clock

Christchurch Floral Clock

One of the nice things about floral clocks is that they can easily be changed by planting different types of flowers and altering the design, something that might not have happened to the Christchurch clock for a while.

Christchurch Floral Clock - June 2018

Christchurch Floral Clock – June 2018

Naseby Watchmaker Shop, Central Otago
There is a little emerald green Watchmakers Shop on Leven Street in Naseby that’s been standing since the Maniototo gold rush days. Listed as a historic place, it was opened by Robert Strong in 1868 and taken over by his son William until it closed in 1967. The shop isn’t open to the public but you can view the watches and clocks inside by visiting the Jubilee Museum next door. (Both the Maniototo Early Settlers Museum and the Jubilee Museum close in winter, re-opening December 2018)

Naseby Watchmakers Shop

Naseby Watchmakers Shop

Alexandra Clock, Central Otago
The large Alexandra Clock sits high on a rocky ridge above the Shaky Bridge on Kerry Street. The clock is 11 metres in diameter and each hand weighs about 270kgs! TheĀ  Alexandra Jaycees spent over 1000 hours working on the clock and a 30.5 metre rail line needed to be built on the cliff face to transport the 760kg clock mechanism.

Alexandra Clock

Alexandra Clock

The clock lights up at night courtesy of 150 torch bulbs and it’s said it can been seen up to 8 kilometres away. You can get up close to the clock by walking up a steep, rocky track to the clock face.

Alexandra Clock up close

Alexandra Clock up close

If you know of other curious clocks around New Zealand I’d love to add them to my collection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *