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.

Archibald was an aspiring clock-maker turned clock collector and he welcomed people into his … Read the rest

Northland Kauri

Northland is a region at the top of the North Island starting just north of Wellsford and continuing to the top of the Northland Peninsula.

There are many reasons to visit Northland, one is to see the mighty kauri tree Tane Mahuta and to learn about the kauri industry. The kauri industry played a key role in Northland’s history and development and kauri trees continue to draw visitors to the area today.

Below is a list of kauri related places to visit, website links and books for those interested in a kauri themed trip around Northland. If anyone knows of … Read the rest

Kauri Walks and Kauri Dieback Disease

Travelling State Highway 12 in Northland takes you through Waipoua Forest dotted with kauri, rimu and northern rata trees. Department of Conservation (DOC) list seven walking and tramping tracks in Waipoua Forest including Tane Mahuta.

Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is New Zealand’s largest known living kauri  tree and he is an awesome sight to see. The tree stands over 50 metres tall and has a girth of more than 13 metres.

Some people may be tempted to wrap their arms around the majestic giant, but Tane Mahuta is fenced off from his thousands of admirers for his own … Read the rest

The Kauri Museum, Matakohe

​The Kauri Museum in Matakohe has 4500 square metres of exhibits, including a full size, and furnished kauri boarding house.

Thousands of pieces of kauri gum are displayed, kauri gum was initially used by Maori to light fires, to chew, and as a pigment for tattooing. By the mid 1840’s the gum was being collected and exported to England and America to be used to make high quality varnish. (See the blog post Gumdiggers Park for more information about kauri gum).

Kauri gum was also carved and the museum has a few gum carvings including a bust of a Maori … Read the rest

Opononi Beach Holiday Park

Update 2020: Opononi Beach Holiday Park is for sale and the site may be re-developed, Google for updates.

The man who runs Opononi Beach Holiday Park is a no nonsense kind of guy. He knows how he likes things done and he isn’t afraid to tell you. This can include giving specific instructions on how to park your caravan. Fortunately Mike was behind the wheel and he knows what he’s doing, if I was in the driver’s seat I’d be telling a different story.

Once the caravan was parked exactly where the owner wanted it to be, he rode off … Read the rest

Gumdiggers Park near Awanui

I’ve always been curious about gum digging and wondered what the gum was used for. I could have gone to Google but there is no better place to learn about the industry than the Gumdiggers Park near Awanui.

The park is set on an original gum field and preserves the history of the gum digging era. You’ll see the tools and equipment used in gum digging as well as what a typical gumdiggers village would have looked like – sack huts with chimneys that caught fire.

There are also big holes where the diggers dug for gum (watch the kids), … Read the rest

Karikari Estate – New Zealand’s Northernmost Vineyard & Winery

If it’s a sunny, still day on the Karikari Peninsula near the top of the North Island then it’s a good day to visit Karikari Estate Vineyard. Sitting up high on a hill with flowers spilling down its slopes, Karikari Estate is a beautiful spot for a glass of wine. The Karikari wines on the list included two chardonnays, a rose, and two blended reds – Toa Iti and Hell Hole, all $10 a glass.

Platters are always our choice at wineries and there are two – Artisan ($35) and Antipasti ($65). Seafood dishes, a burger, chicken salad, and pizza … Read the rest

13 Unusual Toilets in the North Island

Toilets can be tourist attractions in New Zealand. Every year thousands of vehicles detour to the small Northland town of Kawakawa to see the unusual public toilets designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser  (1928-2000).  Built mostly with recycled materials, the toilets incorporate bricks, bottles, tiles and colourful pottery.

The toilets are built around a living tree and have a roof top garden, reflecting Hundertwasser’s environmentally considerate approach to architecture.

Hundertwasser didn’t like straight lines or flat floors, I suspect the residents in the Waldspirale apartment complex he designed in Germany don’t mind at all. Kawakawa is the only … Read the rest

Cheap and chirpy – The Parrot Place, Kerikeri

As soon as I walked through the door at The Parrot Place a friendly chap asked me if I’d like to hold a bird, before I had a chance to reply two hopped on my arm. Mike joked that if anyone should be attracting the birds it should be him, he got his birds a little later.

I loved The Parrot Place – many of the birds are sociable and the aviaries are large and well kept. For only $10 admission per adult and $5 for under 14’s, kids big and small are sure to be enchanted. Opening hours.… Read the rest

Parasailing in Pahia

Parasailing has been described as adrenalin lite, having done a bungy jump I tend to agree, but with Flying Kiwi Parasail in Paihia you are going to fly incredibly high – up to 1200 feet – NZ’s highest parasail.

And unlike a bungy which is over in a few seconds, you are going to remain at a great height for around 10 minutes. Those minutes can feel like hours when you’re contemplating shouting “Please  Get  Me  Down  From  Here”. Unless your wits have deserted you, and mine came close, you realise shouting is pointless, no one in command can hear … Read the rest