Little Libraries

Little libraries in New Zealand can be as small as a few metres squared or as little as the pile of books to be read beside the bed.

One of the sweetest small libraries I’ve seen is Puhoi Town Library, north of Auckland. The building was originally an office for the Roads Board but became a library in 1923. However in April 1924 a flood washed away most of the books and the library wasn’t re-established for over 50 years.

The library has a unique claim to fame in that it featured in Stephen King’s 1992 movie ‘Tommyknockers’ as the … Read the rest

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

White Island, Whakatane

On 9 December 2019 White Island / Whakaari erupted and tragically took the lives of 21 people and seriously injured many others. (Consequently there are currently no tours to White Island).

This post was written a year before the eruption and is now dedicated to the helicopter pilots who made their own decisions to fly to Whakaari to look for survivors. The actions of the pilots saved lives while putting their own at risk. 

White Island / Whakaari is an active marine volcano, 48km north of Whakatane. Get there two ways – by helicopter as we did with Kahu NZRead the rest

Herd of Morrinsville?

If not, Morrinsville is a small town in the Waikato that’s big on cows – farming them and turning them into street art to help tell the story of the town’s history and heritage.

The Herd of Cows? website has a street art trail map so you can find the 48 members of the colourful herd and read about the artists that painted them. Some of the art work on the cows is wonderfully whimsical, and one of the cows is a whopper – Mabel the 6.5 metre tall mega cow stands outside Maber Motors at 86 Thames Street.

You’ll … 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

Feasting at Hobbiton – Evening Banquet Tour

Let’s get into it – The Evening Banquet Tour includes a tour of Hobbiton Movie Set and costs $190 for an adult. Our tour started at 4.30pm from Shires Rest Cafe where we boarded a bus to Hobbiton. Our guide Belinda then took us on a guided tour through the magical Shire.

We arrived at The Green Dragon Inn around 6pm, chose our complimentary beverage, then waited for the big feast reveal at 6.30pm.

The curtains were parted to show a table laden with food – beef and ale stew with dumplings, salmon, duck, a whole chicken, a pan of … 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

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

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