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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Opepe Bush Historic Reserve

The Opepe Bush Historic Reserve, which is a short drive from Taupō, has scenic bush walks to explore.

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The Opepe Bush Historic Reserve bisects the Napier Taupō Highway (SH5). There are carparks on both sides of the road.

The southern walking track is a 3 km loop walk. I did the northern walking track, which is a 30 minute, 1.5 km loop bush walk. The walk leads through mature podocarp forest, which are rare in the Taupō region because these forests were destroyed by the Taupō eruption, fires and milling.

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Opepe is most noted as a site of an attack in the 1869 New Zealand Land Wars. On June 7th 1869 members of Te Kooti’s party attacked the Bay of Plenty Cavalry, who were camped there. 5 of the 14 members of the cavalry escaped. The nine soldiers that were killed are buried here. Later residents of Opepe and the Armed Constabulary are also buried here. It is a 10 minute return walk to the cemetery.

Opepe Bush Historic Reserve is located on the Napier Taupō Highway (SH5), 17 km from Taupō.

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The Quadrant Hotel & Suites Auckland

Last weekend I was in Auckland to see the musical Book of Mormon at The Civic. I stayed the night at the Quadrant Hotel & Suites.

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The Quadrant is less than a 10 minute walk from The Civic, so it is conveniently located for the CBD. Although there is a hill to climb from the CBD – good for those wanting to increase their steps.

The hotel has 277 rooms across 23 floors. I booked a Deluxe Queen but was upgraded to a one bedroom classic apartment on the 13th floor. They also have one bedroom premier apartments and two bedroom apartments (executive, premium) and a penthouse apartment.

Recently it has had mixed (leaning more towards poor) reviews on TripAdvisor, so I went in with very low expectations. The room was clean and comfortable, but was starting to look a bit worn. It is a perfectly adequate place to rest your head.

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Onsite there is the Quad Kitchen & Bar – a bit of design flaw as you have to walk through the bar / dining area from the lobby to get to the lifts. This put me off eating there.

There is a fitness centre with a gym, dry sauna and spa pool. I did not use these facilities though.

The Quadrant Hotel & Suites is located at 10 Waterloo Quadrant.

P.S. The Book of Mormon is amazing – I cried tears of laughter.

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Mangonui, Northland

Mangonui is a small historic tourist town in the Far North.

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Mangonui which was originally founded as a whaling settlement and trading town is one of New Zealand’s oldest European settlements. As a result there are many heritage buildings dotted around the township.

There is the Mangonui Heritage Trail, a 3 kilometre walk around 18 heritage buildings. It takes approximately one and a half hours to complete the trail. Key historic buildings include the Post Office (built 1904), the General Store (built 1907), and the Court House (built 1892).

The historic kauri court house operated as a court until 1948 and then as a police station until 1968. It become a historic reserve in 1980 and today it is home to Exhibit A Gallery, which displays local arts and crafts.

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There is also the historic Mangonui Hotel, which was built in 1905 by John Bray. It promotes itself as ‘New Zealand’s most northern hotel’.

Another highlight is the Mangonui Fish Shop, located right over the water.

The township is 36 kilometres northeast of Kaitaia.

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Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve

Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve is located at the head of the Rangitoto Channel in the Hauraki Gulf.

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Fort Takapuna, was built between 1886 and 1889 as a military defence fort. It was designed by Major Tudor Boddam, a Royal Artillery Officer.

The fort originally housed two 6 inch disappearing guns and two quick firing Nordenfelt guns.

In 1926-27 the fort was converted into a storage for naval ammunition. The guns were removed and the gunpits roofed over to allow for extra storage. It was used for storage until 1936 when the new Naval Armament Depot was built at Kauri Point.

The brick building was were the soldiers lived. When it was first built there was a deep ditch around it. It has since been filled in and only the small part in front of the barracks remains.

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Behind the barracks there was a series of underground tunnels and magazines.

The three concrete shelters were built in 1942 during the Second World War. These were designed to protect the gun crews. The guns originally came from HMS New Zealand (a First World War battlecruiser). By 1941 there were six guns mounted here, for at this battery, known as Left Battery and two at Right Battery, which has since been demolished.

Two of the guns were sent to Tonga, two were given to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and the other two were scrapped.

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An Anti-Submarine Fixed Defence Station was also built to house the electronic equipment used to detect enemy ships approaching. The building was altered following the war with its bay window removed.

Fort Takapuna is located on Vauxhall Road, next to Narrow Neck Beach.

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Maungawhau (Mt Eden), Auckland

Maungawhau (Mt Eden) is a dormant volcano in Auckland city.

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Its Māori language name Maungawhau means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand, named the mountain and surrounding suburb after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland. 

The summit is 196 metres (643 feet) above sea level making it Auckland’s highest volcanic cone.

On a clear day the summit will provide views of the surrounding suburbs, Waitakere Ranges, the Sky Tower, Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto Island.

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Its Māori language name Maungawhau means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand named the mountain and surrounding suburb after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.

The crater is 50 metres (160 feet) deep. The crater’s Māori name is Te Ipu Kai a Mataaho, which means Food Bowl of Mataaho. Mataaho was a deity that lived in the crater. The crater is sacred (tapu) so please be respectful and do not attempt to enter it.

In pre-European times Māori used the site as a pā (fortified settlement). You can still see remnants of the food storage pits.

Vehicle traffic to the summit is not permitted, except for people with limited mobility. It takes about 10 minutes to walk up from the carpark or bus stop. The climb is quite steep.

There is pedestrian access to the summit from Clive Road, Glenfell Place, Batger Road, Hillside Crescent, Rautangi Road and Owens Road.

The Mt Eden Road and Tahaki Drive entrances are open from 7am-8.30pm in summer and 7am to 7pm in winter. There is a lower carpark off Puhi Huia Road.

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Fish out of Water

The Fish Out of Water Art Trail is an annual summer event in Rotorua. The decorated fibreglass fish are currently on display at Te Aka Mauri Rotorua Library.

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The art trail, which ran from 20 December 2018 until February 3rd 2019, featured 13 fish decorated by local Rotorua artists.

This is the 14th year that the art trail has been held. This summer there was an extra roving fish ‘Captain Peggy Wetbeard’ that was displayed at various locations.

The 13 fish and Captain Peggy Wetbeard will only be at the library for another couple of weeks before they are painted white ready for the 2019/20 summer trail.

01 Plastic Ocean Siobhan Foster

‘Plastic Ocean’ – Siobhan Foster

03 Forest Fairytale Jemma Pirrie

‘Forest Fairytale’ – Jemma Pirrie

06. Aqualung my friend John Skudder

‘Aqualung my friend’ – John Skudder

07 Nanabozho The Rainbow Trout Lori-Ann Herder

‘Nanabozho – The Rainbow Trout’ – Lori-Ann Herder

09 Plastic Fantastic St Chads Charitable Trust Artists

‘Plastic Fantastic’ – St Chads Charitable Trust Artists

12 Cheshire Cat Fish

‘Cheshire Cat Fish’ – Nicola Wright, Grace McQuoid & Lauren Stephens

Rotorua GLO Festival NYE

The 2018 Rotorua GLO Festival was a family-friendly New Year’s Eve event held at Rotorua’s lakefront Village Green.

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The evening line up included live music on stage from 4.30pm, a screening of the 2007 Disney Pixar computer-animated fantasy film Coco at 6pm, and then live music continuing as the sun set.

As well as the live music there were food trucks and Mahons Amusements hosted a carnival with carnival games, fairground food and rides including a Grand Carousel, Dodgem Cars, Fun Factory, Graviton, Round Up and the Pirate Ship.

A fireworks display on the lakefront concluded the night at 9.30 pm.

The decision this year to not have a midnight fireworks drew criticism from some members of the community. Despite this the Council reports 12,000 people attended the festival in its entirety and 15,000 people watched the 9.30pm fireworks.

Happy New Year!

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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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