The Toy Collector, Christchurch

I’ve seen a few collections of toys in New Zealand but The Toy Collector in Christchurch is the first to have me tapping at my keyboard. I wasn’t a model railway fan before visiting, but the train sets are fantastic, one is a LEGO city including houses, shops, a soccer pitch, and an airport.

The other model train set has a lot of detail too, I spent ages looking at all the individual pieces.

Along with the train sets is a life long collection of matchbox cars and a shiny selection of diecast Holdens and Jaguars.

There are also collections … Read the rest

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

Wendelton Guinea Pig Village, Nelson

Guinea pigs aren’t related to pigs and they don’t come from Guinea, they are the domesticated relations of the Brazilian guinea pig. The guinea pigs at Wendelton Guinea Pig Village couldn’t care less, it’s all about friendship and carrots for them.

And carrots are good for them because they’re hard, and guinea pigs teeth are continually growing. However carrot is like cake to guinea pigs, and another guinea pig fact – the little critters can get diabetes, so too much carrot is a no no. They like lots of friends though and are very sociable, so village life must … Read the rest

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, Rotorua

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe is home to five fancy cat breeds including Ragdolls, a British Blue and a Bengal. On 13 May some little kittens moved in too. The fancy felines have two rooms full of cat gyms, hidey-holes, and furniture to climb.

Most of the cats at Fancy Meow are Ragdolls as they are an especially people friendly breed, they also have the most beautiful blue eyes.

It’s a rule at Fancy Meow, and a good one I think, to let sleeping cats lie so timing and luck determine which fancy felines will be up and about to play … 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

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

There are a few uniquely New Zealand experiences you can have for $5 or less – you can hire a spade and dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, visit Weta Cave in Wellington (free), and see all the curious creations at The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai, the Catlins (seasonal hours*).

Blair Somerville is the resident ‘organic mechanic’ and creator of The Lost Gypsy Gallery (free entry), and The Winding Thoughts Theatre of Sorts ($5 entry – R13). If you like unusual attractions definitely pull over in Papatowhai, your time and money are well spent here.… Read the rest

Teapot Land in Owaka

I’m not sure there are many towns that have more than three tea pots per head of population, but Owaka in the Catlins area does, its population is around 303. In summer, there are more than 1200 tea pots in the garden at Teapot Land on Main Road.

The owner of Teapot Land is actually a coffee drinker, I’m not sure whether the unusual collection started with a tea pot, a coffee pot, or a kettle, but Teapot Land it is.

Visitors are invited to put a koha (donation) in the kettle and take photos. It seems like everything you … Read the rest

Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore

If ye happen to be travelling through Gore on a dreich day, a wee dram of Old Hokonui, and Hokonui Honey Moonshine is included in the $5 entrance fee to Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

The Museum documents the first distiller in the area as Irish carpenter Owen McShane. In the 1830’s Owen made a potent spirit from cabbage tree sap known by a few names including the brilliant ‘McShane’s Chained Lightning’.

Fond of more than a wee dram, Owen McShane may be the only person ever to build a jail, go out on a bender to celebrate its completion, get arrested, … Read the rest

Tropical Forest at Otago Museum

The temperature can drop below zero during a Dunedin winter but one place you’re guaranteed to keep warm is in the Tropical Forest at Otago Museum. On the day I was there it was a balmy 35.8 degrees celsius with 64% humidity, I can confirm that’s not enough humidity to make your hair frizz.

Butterflies are the main attraction in the Tropical Forest and they arrive in New Zealand in chrysalis form from breeders in Costa Rica and the Philippines. At 11am every day you can see what they call ‘first flight’ which is when the newly emerged butterflies are … Read the rest

The Cat Lounge in Glenfield, Auckland

*Unfortunately The Cat Lounge closed on 21 August 2018. Barista Cats in Auckland city is still operating.*

New Zealand’s first cat cafe – The Cat Lounge, opened in Glenfield, Auckland in early November. I went along last week for a look see. I stepped into a smart black and white cafe with a big Thank You wall acknowledging all those who contributed to The Cat Lounge via crowd funding platform Kickstarter.

Two glass doors separate the cat lounge from the cafe, you can take food and drink in with the cats but I chose to have coffee and … Read the rest