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A visit to Tawhiti Museum, Hawera

Tawhiti Museum

We visited Tawhiti Museum on New Year’s Day 2021 after spending NYE at nearby secluded spot; Ohawe Beach.
The hot summer days we’d had leading up to New Year’s Eve had been beautiful but it was also a nice relief to have a slightly overcast New Year’s Day – a more comfortable, less sticky day with a slight breeze – perhaps it was just me but I felt it gave a calming start to the New Year on a day when a few people probably needed to just kick back and recover!

We did a few errands in the town of Hawera, a lot of the larger stores were open and we were able to pick up some bits and pieces for the van. This was our first major trip away in this campervan and we were still figuring out what we needed or wanted to put into it. And then there are simply things that you forgot! So we picked up things like solar lights, citronella candles, a bluetooth speaker, gas BBQ lighter and some handy dandy double-sided velcro tape that we stapled to the inside of cupboards and use to keep our glass bottles in place. The velcro also works great as a curtain tie-back on the full-length curtain separator we put up behind the front seat. I’ll have to get some more interior photos for a future post about little jobs we’ve done in the van.

Anyway…. we had read about a super little museum on the outskirts of Hawera so we popped along for a quick visit while we were in the area. The little visit turned into a full afternoon! Tawhiti Museum is a tardis of a place with something to appeal to all tastes and between the hubbie and I we were happy to meander around slowly discovering the various exhibits – the only problem was we kept find *another* building, or we’d walk around a corner and find the little shed we entered had morphed into a huge hall!
I’m not complaining here – just pointing out that you might want to ensure you leave enough time for a good look around!

We paid the full entrance fee for the museum, including tickets for the bush railway and Traders & Whalers – a boat-based attraction within the museum grounds.

Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus

The museum is made up of several groups of buildings, all quite rustic and in keeping with the relaxed feel and character of the place. But before you think this is one of those dusty old shed museums with things just piled up or random old junk put on shelves… think again. Tawhiti Museum has an amazing and very well-presented array of interesting heritage items – from farm machinery to shipping to vintage toys, and wartime memorabilia to kitchen paraphanalia.
One of the things that helps bring the exhibits to life is the attention to detail and realistic figures used to set up various scenes. All the figurines, from the life-size right down to tiny scale models used in dioramas, are made on site in the ‘Body Shop’ which you can view as part of your visit.

The man behind the museum is ex-art teacher Nigel Ogle. Back in 1975 Nigel and his wife Teresa bought the 70-year-old Tawhiti Cheese Factory. Nigel started his small private collection as a hobby but it soon became the focus of public attention and the focus of an impressive visual history of South Taranaki. The museum is now an award-winning visitor attraction and a valued education facility.

We began our visit with a little trip on the Tawhiti Bush Railway, a 2’6″ gauge railway representing the logging railways that used to operate in Taranaki. The track has native planting and a range of buildings alongside the line, with life size figures highlighting how life used to be lived. The end of the track has a reconstructed sawmill set up with a range of historic displays explaining the old sawmilling and timber transportation days.

Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
One of the many displays set up to represent scenes from life gone by
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
The figurines are realistic and create a three-dimensional image of the past
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
All the life size models were created from moulds cast from real people – family friends and locals!
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
The goods listed in this land purchase are represented in the image below….
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
One small corner of the vast Farmpower Hall which exhibits a range of machines and demonstrates the evolution from
horse-drawn equipment to a powered machines of all types and sizes
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
A selection of lawn mowers
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
A small selection of photos of the extensive display of ‘dioramas’ all created with huge attention to detail and to represent moments in history
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
Tawhiti Museum visit by Kiwi Blog Bus
The entrance to the Traders & Whalers boat attraction

Traders & Whalers is set within Tawhiti Museum but does require an additional ticket to be purchased. The attraction is an innovative and historical representation of the Taranaki Coast in the 1820-1840 period. Visitors are whisked away in a boat to learn more about life in this time period as the boatman glides you past and through realistic life size scenes and sounds of the sailors and locals working, trading and battling. Photography isn’t permitted in the attraction but take at look at the video below which features the attraction.

The museum grounds also house a retail shop and a cafe, with plenty of parking and a dedicated area for campervans ūüôā

I’ll leave you with this official video from Tawhiti Museum – and a recommend that you make time (plenty of time!) to visit one day!

Ohawe for New Year’s Eve

Ohawe is a small settlement on the South Taranaki coast, just 8km west of Hawera, and was the perfect, peaceful place for us to see out the year with a coastal sunset and great views of the rugged and stunning coastline.

Ohawe is one of New Zealand’s earliest settled places. The first people hunted moa and other birds here about 1300. It was later founded as a military settlement with two redoubts built, one either side of the river mouth. Many of the British and colonial troops who died in later battles are buried in Ohawe Military Cemetery.

Ohawe Beach is very popular with locals and visitors for its rock pools, swimming, surfing and fishing. However, the cliffs that run along the scenic beach are known to be very unstable with frequent rock slides and collapses so caution is needed at all times.

We enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing walk on the black sands at low tide. The shallow waters around the numerous rock pools were clear and warm – providing great areas for paddling and watching the numerous hermit crabs and other small sea creatures.

Ohawe Beach

Ohawe Beach
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus

We had parked up for the evening at the local campsite. Ohawe Beach Camp is administered by the Rangatapu Pa Trustees with all income reinvested into maintaining the campsite and Rangatapu Pa. The site charges a very reasonable small fee per person to cover powered and non-powered sites and use of the facilities which while basic and ‘no frills’ were perfectly functional and clean and included toilets, showers, laundry and a camp kitchen with dining area and small lounge.
It’s a classic kiwi campground from days of old. And we loved it! No playgrounds or jumping pillows. No shop. No cellphone or internet signal. Just a pleasant grassed area on a slight slope with views out to sea and plenty of space for a game of cricket, frisbee or whatever non-digital game takes your fancy!
It was nice to have a range of fellow campers around us, from families in caravans and tents to other couples in campervans and some groups of friends who camped up together so they could have a merry old time bringing in the New Year together!

Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus

And when the sun started to set, a number of campers migrated from the site on the short stroll to the nearby clifftop vantage point to watch the sunset. We ambled over with our drinks in hand to farewell the last day of the year. And what a year 2020 was! After such times of angst, worry and uncertainty it was wonderfully calming to just stand and watch the final sunset of the year with others nearby raising a celebratory glass, or enjoying an evening picnic in the last glows of the day.
It was a perfectly peaceful

Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus
Ohawe Beach - visited by Kiwi Blog Bus

Midnight saw us tucked up in our bed watching the full moon light up the bay, listening to revellers in the village cheer in the New Year and then a few fireworks from the beach – feeling full of gratitude for this pretty and peaceful New Year’s Eve in this quiet scenic spot…. and…. having our lovely campervan to be able to come away to places like this!

Kawakawa and disappointment

On our approach to the Bay of Islands I noted that we were to drive near Kawakawa.

As this was the infamous home of the Hundertwasser Toilets, I duly prodded the driver and requested (for his benefit of course) that we take a driving break in the locality of this tourist attraction.

Kawakawa

I wish I hadn’t bothered. Read More…

Freedom camping near Horeke Tavern

Just sharing my view from bed this morning…..

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I’ve been out of phone signal lately ( yesterday we went up Cape Reinga at the Northern point of NZ) so I’ll have to do full blog posts when I get home.

Last night the Kiwi Blog Bus freedom camped at Horeke, Hokianga Harbour.
We are next to the Horeke Tavern which has been serving beer since 1826 ( that’s like real old in New Zealand terms!) and I recommend you all should visit this utterly charming place.

I’ve had such a peaceful night with just birds waking me this morning to a stunning view.

I have lots more pics to download when we get home but I’ll leave you with these:

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Next on our plans…. We’re actually heading back to the Bay of Islands.
We haven’t been over to Russell yet but an invitation was kindly extended to us from Angela & Don of Russell – Orongo Bay Holiday Park to come and stay there.
We met them at the motorhome show in Hamilton last year and it’s taken us this long to get up here!
The 14 acre holiday park sounds amazing and i’m looking forward to checking out all the facilities. I’m so pleased we can go with our canine friends on board too!
I’m excited to get over there (on the ferry) and explore historic Russell and its beautiful surroundings.
Stay tuned!

Relaxed and refreshed at Firth Tower, Matamata

Situated just a few kilometres out of Matamata, Firth Tower Reserve and Museum sits above the town with extensive views of the surrounding countryside with the Kaimai Range towering in the distance.

Read More…

Hamilton Gardens: a collection of paradise and more

Staying local again this week, I shall take you on a trip to Hamilton Gardens – the Waikato’s most popular visitor attraction.

Indian Char Bagh Garden, Hamilton Gardens

Locals and tourists alike throng regularly through the many themed areas, gardens and collections, all open free to the public.

We are lucky enough to be able to visit the gardens on a regular basis; for dog walks, Sunday strolls, Jazz festivals, picnics and more.

In particular we enjoy Read More…

Home sweet home: Cambridge, New Zealand

Seeing as we haven’t been away in the Kiwi Blog Bus for a wee while I thought I would blog today about my beautiful home town of Cambridge as it’s certainly somewhere I’d like to visit if I didn’t live here!

This is not meant to be a full and comprehensive guide to the town, rather a few of my personal pictures that I have taken over the few years we’ve enjoyed living here.

If you want to learn more about this very historic New Zealand town then check out the museum website.

And for those of you that have driven through Cambridge on¬†State Highway¬†1 and¬†not bothered to¬†stop for a look… this is what you missed:

St Andrews Anglican Church, built in 1873 this is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Cambridge

Read More…

The official medal chart (Kiwi Blog Bus style)

In the spirit of the Olympics ….

(or just because I cannot think what else to blog about today!) this post is about the best of The Kiwi Blog Bus and the winning entries to date.

The positions for most popular post:

Gold medal goes to Waterworks: surely the best fun you can have with recycled objects?! Read More…

Huka Huka: Prawns and Falls

From the Kiwi Annison Archives

If we’re ever heading down to Taupo or beyond, one of our favourite spots to call in for a spot of relaxation, great food and good old easy-going kiwi ambience is Huka Prawn Park and its fantastic riverside restaurant.

Situated next to the Waikato River, just a short distance from the powerful Huka Falls, the park breeds and grows tropical prawns¬†(Giant Malaysian River Prawns) using waste geothermal heat from the geothermal power station next door. Read More…

A little bit of Kiwiana

From the Kiwi Annison Archives

Back in April this year we travelled down to Waitomo and further on to the west coast – see Magnificent meanderings to Marokopa. On our way down we went through Otorohanga , the official Kiwiana town.

So those of you not in New Zealand may now be scratching your heads and wondering what the heck is kiwiana. Read More…

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