Fun Ho! National Toy Museum

The Fun Ho! National Toy Museum is a toy museum in Inglewood, Taranaki.

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The museum displays the popular New Zealand made Fun-Ho! toys that were produced between 1935-1982.

Harold (Jack) Underwood began making toys from his Wellington basement in the 1930s. His first toys were made from lead. This was not very healthy and he changed to aluminium around 1940.

Jack later moved to Taranaki and opened a factory in Inglewood.

By the mid 1970s, over a million Fun Ho! toys were sold each year. In the late 1970s import restrictions were lifted allowing cheaper imported toys. Sadly this lead to toy production ceasing in 1982 and the factory closed in 1987.

Barry Young, who had worked for Jack for about 30 years had a big collection of Fun Ho! toys, and when the factory closed he took the rest of the collection.

In the old factory Barry opened the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum. The museum later moved to its current site in the town, where is it also operates as the Inglewood Visitor Information Centre (look for the fire engine on the roof – a replica Model No 105 Large Fire Engine)

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The museum has about 3000 Fun Ho! toys as well as many other New Zealand made toys. Today reproductions are made onsite in the workshop. If you are lucky the toymaker may be firing up the furnace when you visit. They use the original moulding plates – including ones from the 1940s.

Yes they sell reproduction toys in the shop and repair and restore them too.

The Fun Ho! National Toy Museum and Inglewood Info Centre is located at 25 Rata Street, Inglewood. Inglewood is 16 kilometres southeast of New Plymouth.

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Rotokare Scenic Reserve

Rotokare Scenic Reserve is a bush and lake reserve in South Taranaki.

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Rotokare Scenic Reserve is a 230 hectare forested hill-country with extensive wetlands, native bush and a 17.8 hectare lake. It is managed by the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust.

The Lake Rotokare Walkway is a 4 km walking track that circles the lake. The first 600 metres feature boardwalks around the wetlands, which include a boardwalk out to a floating viewing pontoon.

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The boardwalk up until the pontoon is wheelchair accessible, and many visitors only walk as far as the pontoon and then return. The track after this can be muddy in winter. It should take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the loop walk.

The reserve is protected by a 8.2 km pest-proof fence. Entry is through a double set of gates. The gate has to close behind before you can open the next gate.

Entry is free but donations to the trust are appreciated.

Rotokare Scenic Reserve is at Sangster Road, 12 km from Eltham, South Taranaki.

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Eltham, Taranaki

Eltham is a small town in South Taranaki.

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Eltham in named after an English village in Greenwich, England. European settlement began in Eltham in the 1870s. The settlement become a town district in 1884.

Similar to much of Taranaki, Eltham has its roots in dairy.  The first pound of butter was made at Eltham in New Zealand’s first commercial butter factory, which opened in 1887. Today cheese is probably the town’s claim to fame.

Eltham is also known for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture. There is a heritage walking trail with information panels dotted around the township explaining the town’s heritage.

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Also in 2009 the town was the location for a film adaptation of Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s 1975 novel Predicament. Many of the building frontages were renovated and repainted at the time.

The are numerous cafes and shops with antiques, arts and crafts, and vintage and retro clothing. Although when I visited on a Friday many of these businesses were closed, a result of COVID possibly.

There was a small market on, the Friday Eltham Market, which is held nine till noon in the TouchPoint carpark (High Street), weather permitting.

Eltham is approximately 50 kilometres south of New Plymouth. State Highway 3 runs through the town.

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Christmas Village, New Plymouth

The Christmas Village is a beautiful Christmas shop in New Plymouth.

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The shop has a seven beautifully decorated areas that are each stylised around its own theme. They also have a marquee attached to the main building with more beautiful Christmas items.

Santa’s sleigh is also parked outside the village. Although Santa was not home when I visited.

The village is traditionally open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am to 4pm. From October it is open 7 days a week.

The Christmas Village will close on 23rd December and reopen for 2020 in April. It is located at 63 Egmont Road, RD 2, New Plymouth.

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New Plymouth Clock Tower

New Plymouth’s clock tower stands on the corner Robe Street and Devon Street West.

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The original clock tower was part of the Post Office building, which was built in 1906-7. Following an earthquake in 1942 a decision was made to demolish to tower due to safety concerns. Due to opposition the clock tower and post office were not demolished until April 1969.

Residents wanted the clock tower back, so a replica was built in 1985 that incorporated the original clock and its mechanism.

Unfortunately you cannot climb to the top of it. Access to the tower steps are closed off by a gate.

It is best to see when visiting the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Lyn Lye Centre, as the clock tower is across the road.

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Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre is a contemporary art museum and space in New Plymouth.

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The art gallery opened in 1970 in the old Regent Cinema building. The name comes from Monica Brewster (née Govett), who was the founding benefactor.

The gallery traditionally changes its exhibitions three times a year. The gallery also has café and shop.

The Len Lye Centre, which opened in 2015, is located next to the art gallery and houses artist, sculpter, poet and filmmaker Len Lye’s collection and archive, as well as galleries, an education centre and a 62-seat cinema.

The Centre’s with its shimmering mirror-like steel facade is probably one of the most photographed buildings in New Plymouth.

Entry to the gallery is free but donations are appreciated.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre is located on the corner of Queen St and Devon St West, New Plymouth.

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Puke Ariki

Puke Ariki, which opened in 2003, is an combined museum, library and tourist information centre in New Plymouth.

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The Museum has three permanent galleries Taranaki Naturally, Taranaki Life, and Takapou Whāriki. These exhibitions explore Taranaki’s geological, early settler life, and Māori history. There also two temporary galleries for visiting and short term exhibitions.

The Museum is open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and 9am to 5pm on weekends.

There is an airbridge that links the Museum and i-Site with the public library. The library is open the same hours as the museum, except for a late night on Wednesday with a 9pm closure.

Puke Ariki is located at 1 Ariki Street, New Plymouth.

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Taranaki Pioneer Village

Taranaki Pioneer Village is an outdoor museum experience representing a Taranaki Village from 1850 to 1950.

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The 10 acre property has over 40 original buildings dating back to 1853. Buildings onsite include the Tariki Railway Station (1903), Opunake Railway Station (1925), Stratford Courthouse (1895), Mangatoki Church (1904), Kaponga Jail (1914), and Pembroke School (circa 1930s).

There are also historic homesteads and many village shops including a bank, barber, bookbinder, butcher, chemist, cobbler, Doctors and dental surgery, drapery, grocery store, hardware store library, post office, and printshop.

There also also agricultural buildings, such as a dairy factory, forge and saddlery, barn, and cow shed.

All the buildings are set up inside with artefacts from pioneer times. The Pioneer Village also has live days where a barber, bookbinder, forge, and printshop operate.

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Library

The Pioneer Village also includes the Stratford Hospital Museum, which was developed after the closure of Stratford Hospital, and is run by a group of retired nurses.

There is a Pioneer Express train, which is based on Barclay shunting engine that would have been used in Stratford in the 1920’s. The train does two circuits of the perimeter of the Village. I recommend doing this first to get a layout of the Village.

During the summer months the Pioneer Village is open daily, during the winter months it is open Wednesday to Sunday. Check their website for current hours.

Taranaki Pioneer Village is located at 3912 Mountain Rd, Stratford.

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Pioneer Express Train and Opunake Railway Station

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Stratford Courthouse

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Kaponga Jail, Cobbler’s shop, and Police Station

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Mangatoki Church

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Pembroke School

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Barber

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New Plymouth Savings Bank

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Stratford Hospital Museum

Lake Mangamahoe

Lake Mangamahoe is a 262ha commercial production forest with a scenic park and lake.

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Lake Mangamahoe is popular for mountain biking, walking and running. There are also horse treks.

In 1932 Lake Mangamahoe was created by forming a dam across the valley and submerging 79 acres. The lake is named after the Mangamahoe stream, which flows into the lake.

The Lake Circuit walk will take approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. There is also the Hydro Road Track walk, which is 30 minutes, and a short five minute walk to the Mt. Taranaki Lookout.

Lake Mangamahoe is 10 minutes south of New Plymouth on State Highway 3. Access from Lake Road, at Kent Road Junction. During daylights savings the gate is open 7am to 8:30pm. Outside of daylight savings hours it is open 7am to 6pm.

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Pukekura Park

Pukekura Park is a Garden of National Significance in New Plymouth covering 52 hectares.

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Pukekura Park contains a range of landscaped gardens, lakes, exotic trees and walking paths through native bush.

It is also is full of history. The park opened in 1876 as a recreational reserve. At that time it was a stream valley full of gorse and wild bush.

In 1878 the main lake was formed by damming the Pukekura Stream that run through the park. In 1884 the ‘Poets Bridge’ was built across the lake. The original bridge was rebuilt in 1938 due to deterioration. Its red colour scheme is based on the Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko, Japan.

In 1888 a bandstand was erected and in 1897, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the drinking fountain was unveiled.

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Poets Bridge

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Drinking fountain and bandstand

In 1928 a fernery was built that today has more than 50,000 plants. The Tea House opened in 1931, which is operating today as Tea House on the Lake, it is open from 9am to 4pm.

There is a waterfall that opened in 1970. It has three main cascades. The highest is 10.6 metres. It uses water from the adjacent lake. Water at the foot of the waterfall is recycled through a pumphouse to a small pool at the top.

To celebrate the park’s centenary a water wheel was erected in 1976.

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Waterfall

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Water wheel

The park was named Pukekura Park in 1907 after the stream that run through the park.

Pukekura Park is also home to the Sports Grounds, TSB Bowl of Brooklands, and the the Brookland Zoo.

The main gate to Pukekura Park is at 10 Fillis Street, New Plymouth.

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