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.

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.

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-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.

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.

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.

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.

Mountain magic

It’s a lovely sunny day here in the ‘Naki. It’s a nice crisp winter’s day, the likes of which seem all too rare in Auckland, the land of the long grey sky.

Today I went to the Govett-Brewster art gallery, which is rather choice. At first I was a bit annoyed that I’d missed the opening of a new Len Lye exhibit by a mere four days, however the rest of the gallery was taken up by an exhibit of Darcy Lange.

I’d not heard of him before, but it turns out he’s a video artist. He started recording things on video back in England the mid-’70s, before turning home to the ‘Naki. Rather than editing his footage (in those days, video editing equipment wasn’t easy to come by), he just filmed long, uncut scenes of things like crop dusters, tree fellers, farmers, both at work and sitting around at smoko. It took a bit of time and effort to get into his work, and I noticed that most people did a hasty walk by, missing out on the sight of such things as the 1974 tree fellers chopping away at a mighty tree before it eventually crashed to the forest floor.

After that I ended up spending about an hour at the New Plymouth BNZ when the adjacent ATM ate my Visa card, which is, like, one of the crappest things to happen to a traveller. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between BNZ and BankDirect, they were finally convinced that I was not a criminal and gave me my card back.

Mountain report: The cloud has all but vanished and the might snow-covered peak of Mt Taranaki is visible. It’s just there, hanging out in the background, peaking over the top of supermarket car parks, office buildings and houses.

I’m typing this in a Christian bookshop. Gentle Christian music plays in the background. When I went to type the subject for this entry, Internet Explorer’s autocomplete popped down a list of previously used subjects, one of which was “shave his balls with a rusty razor”. Crikey!

Go, the ‘Naki

I’m in the ‘Naki, New Plymouth to be exact. I’m currently in an “Internet Laundry”, typing this on a computer where the screen will only show half the pixels, in a sort of checkerboard effect.

I was thinking of all the places in Aotearoa that I hadn’t been to, and New Plymouth was one of them. Well, I’ve been here for a day in 1982 (or round about that time) and the only thing I remember was a tall brick chimney type structure, but I’ve not seen anything like this, so perhaps it was a false memory.

This Mt Egmont/Taranaki thing appears to be hiding in the cloud. I went up to the top of a tall car park building and attempted to look for it, but all I could see was some foothills shrouded in mists. Ooh.

Today I visited Puke Ariki, the visitor’s centre cum museum. It’s rather impressive. There was an exhibit to do with young design companies like Huffer, Dawn Raid, Illicit, Misery, Disruptiv etc. It was all focused around the fact that these companies are making money, and therefore the youth of Taranaki should look up to them or something.

New Plymouth is a lovely place. There’s a funny little vibe here, and the only way I can think of describing it is New Plymouth is the centre of the universe. Maybe it’s cos it’s the only part of New Zealand with oil (or something like that).

Since sitting down here, another customer has come in. He wants to use los Interweb, but the other two terminals are broken. So he’s just sitting there waiting for me to finish. He’ll just have to be patient.

Rumour has it that tomorrow the weather will be nicer and sunnier and I may even get to see this mountain thing sans cloud.