Wangaz

So it turns out my “clean” and “good value” motel has cheap wireless interweb. It comes and goes, but I’ve been able to check my email and discover that I can’t respond to it because I can’t use my usual SMTP server.

ANYWAY, this morning I went up the Durie Hill lift. In 1916, the good people of the Durie Hill suburb said, “OMG, the hill is too high! We don’t want to walk all that way up! Boohoo!!!” so The Man cut a tunnel into the hill and then a hole up to the top of the hill and put a lift in it. The lift is still in use today, and for $1 I rode the lift with its ’70s wood-look Formica interior right up to the top of Durie Hill.

Fortunately there’s something to do up the top, namely walk up to the top of the Durie Hill War Memorial Tower, which is rather donger-like in shape. Pics to come. The tower offers splendid views, and on a clear day you can see Mt Taranaki, Mt Ruapehu, and even the South Island, but today was cloudy around the edges.

Then I went on to the Sarjeant Gallery, a white neo-classical building atop a hill. It’s like a temple of art. I liked the selection of works in the 2006 Wanganui Arts Review, and Philip Trusttum’s “Pictures at an exhibition” collection.

Next I visited the Wanganui District Museum, which annoyed me because, like many museums, it seemed geared towards children. “Can you think what happens when adults feel like they’re being treated like dumb-arses?” In one exhibit, there was a brief mention of Wanganui’s rock “stars” The Have (Whatever happened to them?).

Across from that is the Wanganui War Memorial Hall, which is the coolest building in New Zealand.

All this sight-seeing is becoming a blur. Somewhere today I was singing a guestbook. Two guys had written their tag in the “name” box and under comments put “WESTSIDE”, so crossed it out and wrote “Eastside 4 Life” in neat lady’s handwriting. I’ve probably started a turf war.

Wanganui’s a nice enough place, but it seems stuck in this ye olde Victoriana theme of its main street. Even the phone boxes are ye olde. But just like Napier’s art deco obsession, it turns out that the most interesting buildings are the ones that aren’t from the celebrated era.

So tomorrow I’m off to… Well, I haven’t decided yet. Perhaps Palmerston North. Any suggestions made before 9.30 tomorrow morning will be considered.

Down the ‘Naki

New Plymouth
I was going to go to the Bowls Museum, but it was closed. Actually, it was unattended, but to have got it attended would hav involved going into the adjacent bowling club, and that might have made me look like a bowls enthusiast.

Inglewood
This is where the FunHo! toy museum lives. You’d never get away with naming a toy company that these days. I had a look at the collection of old FunHo! toys, and I was reminded that FunHo! made excellent sandpit toys.

Whangamomona
From Stratford I went along the “Forgotten World Highway”, aka The Road Between Stratford and Taumarunui. About halfway along that is the little settlement of Whangamomona. There’s a hotel, so I had lunch there. A self-proclaimed farmer’s wife, who was helping out behind the bar, made me some potato wedges. The walls of the hotel were covered with various photos of the area, as well as a good 100 years of local rugby team photos. Once a year Whangamonona declares itself to be an independent republic, but at the moment it was just being a nice little settlement.

Stratford
Stratford-upon-Patea is taking the whole Shakespeare thing a bit too seriously now. Like, having all the streets named after Shakespearean characters is cool, but the mock-mock-Tudor is a bit much. Nailing black planks of wood diagonally across a 1950s fibrolite shack does not make a Tudor building.

Hawera
There’s a water tower in Hawera. I walked up it, but didn’t go all the top because I got that fear-of-being-inside-large-concrete-spaces thing. However, it did offer lovely views of the ‘Naki and the mountain.

Patea
I took a photo of the giant concrete canoe – the one they sing in front of in the Poi E video. Across the road is the Poi E Information Centre, but it appeared to be closed. Further down the road was the HQ of the Patea Maori Club, which was totally awesome to see.

Wanganui
Where I am now. There appears to be some sort of school-sport-related event in town, meaning all the nice motels are full, so I’m staying in one that the Lonely Planet describes as “clean” and “good value”. However, it is “a cracker day out there,” as the computer/kite shop man just said to another customer.