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 Green Dragon Inn – Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

“Oh, you can search far and wide, You can drink the whole town dry, But you’ll never find a beer so brown, As the one we drink in our hometown …” so goes a song written by the film writers of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If you like dark beer the Oakbarton brew may be your choice of complimentary beverage at The Green Dragon Inn. You visit The Green Dragon for about 20* minutes as part of a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour (blog post) – Hobbiton website.

Mike matched a stein of Girdley fine grain amber ale … Read the rest

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to”, so wrote J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings.

After visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set I can see why the hobbits were content with life in The Shire, but I’m glad we ventured out our door and onto the road to Matamata.

Lots of people start their tour from Matamata i-SITE, however there is plenty of parking at Hobbiton and your own transport gives you more flexibility. From … Read the rest

Carried away in Carterton

Getting carried away for us was rising before 6am on a Friday morning to hook up the caravan and head to Carterton. We were keen to see hot air balloons lift off at 7am as part of the Wairarapa Balloon Festival*. The balloonists got carried away on a beautiful March morning, it’s definitely a sport for early risers, we won’t be taking it up any time soon.

The big attraction at the 2014 event was ‘Patriot’ – a replica space shuttle. The balloon is close to 54 metres high, has a wingspan of 35 metres and weighs 449 kilograms. … Read the rest

Running of the Sheep in Te Kuiti

Te Kuiti bills itself as the ‘Shearing Capital of the World’ and has a 7.5 tonne sheep shearing statue to prove it. What gives the town more shearing capital kudos is that David Fagan, a multiple World and NZ Champion Shearer, is a local. David’s son Jack followed him into the woolshed, he’s a gun shearer too, so Te Kuiti should hold its title for a while yet.

If you visit the shearing statue you’ll read that the NZ sheep population peaked in 1982 at 70.3 million, try counting to 70.3 million the next time you can’t get to … Read the rest

Ring the Westminster Chimes at The Faraday Centre in Napier

The Faraday Centre is a historical technology museum, it’s a hands on sort of place so you get to push, pull and make stuff go, not just look at it. You’ll find all sorts of weird and intriguing things like a Uranus electric mouse trap, a dishwasher from 1925, a 1907 Rover car, and old and unusual typewriters.

You can use the pneumatic conveyor system that once transferred money in cannisters through a series of pipes around Westerman’s Department Store in Hastings. Curiously, C1 Espresso in Christchurch are using a similar system to transfer sliders from the kitchen to food … Read the rest

I wanted to be a prawn star …

… like Casey from Auckland who caught a 43.5cm long prawn at Huka Prawn Park in Taupo. After 3.5 hours of fishing I thought I’d have to settle for being a prawn star photographer as all I’d done was photograph other peoples prawns and feed fish that were continually stripping my hook of bait.

However I kept baiting and kept waiting and after four hours I finally hooked a prawn. Did I taste success?

No, I looked at my little prawn and thought about how Mike had eaten some of its mates for lunch. I also realised that the bucket … Read the rest

Smash Palace Bar, Gisborne

The name Smash Palace gives an indication of what to expect – think a guy called Gazza getting a liquor licence for his second hand shop / wreckers yard and inviting his mates around for a party. There’s a pool table, Lion Red on tap and a mix of soft and hard rock on the sound system. Smash turns it up mid January for the annual rock and metal event – Hell Smash Fest.

One of Gazza’s mates has conveniently landed a DC3 in the garden bar to provide some shade and another has sawn off the top of a … Read the rest

A new breed of boy racer?

Remove the blades, add some more horse power, make it loud and low, give it a name like MowJo, and you’re on your way to having a race ready ride-on mower.

When I saw lawn mower racing on the programme at the Rotorua A & P show last year, I thought it was a one off event unique to Rotorua. Not so, the first ride-on mower races were held in 2003 at the Omokoroa School gala, ride-on mowers meet regularly at the Sanson rugby park, and race at the Manawatu Garden Festival every year. The Rotorua A & P show … Read the rest