Best bits, a kiwi town
Eketahuna there are plenty of things to do. Eketahuna sweeps into view on the state highway two between Masterton and Napier, Hawke’s Bay. You are struck by the burst of colour and signage. Eketahuna is a quintessential small kiwi town with a ‘Eke’ story unique to the passionate residents. Naturally Pukaha, National Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre is a highlight. Together with quirky art, a marvellous model railway world, cafes and walks there are a lot of reasons to stop a while and explore the district.
Check out kiwi towns on State Highway 2.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
- Early Settlers Museum
- Cwmglyn Cheese is no longer, yet model railways triumph
- Heritage trail, find a series of memorials commemorating World War one
Pukaha Mount Bruce Native Wildlife Centre is considered a trip highlight. The centre has an engaging kids programme, an exhibit explaining the breeding project for kiwis and an onsite shop and cafe. The Mt Bruce Lookout Walk is accessed via the car park.
GIANT KIWI emblem and town mascot is ready for the next photo moment. Go on a kiwi hunt, find and take a selfie. As well Eketahuna is a hive of creative souls, check Eketahuna Handcrafts for when the next market day occurs.
Eketahuna / Mellemskov Museum is the place to track and trace Scandinavian descent, documents and photographs for the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Operating hours: Open summer Sunday 2pm – 4pm, or by arrangement. Fees : koha. The Mount Bruce Pioneer Museum is also a repository for old relics, abandoned farm machinery and domestic life. Managed by volunteers check beforehand for opening hours to avoid disappointment.
CWMGLYN MODEL RAILWAY
Middleton Model Railway, one of the largest in the country, is located on Cwmglyn Farm. This is where a passion has become a fascinating visitor experience for all age groups. For opening hours check beforehand to avoid disappointment.
3D ART MURAL
Local artist Mark Watson has created a 3D artwork that takes over the Chorus building and features flora and fauna that is native to New Zealand. This is a kids highlight and remember to get your 3D glasses from the local visitor centre.The 3D glasses are available at the Eketahuna Information Centre, which is next to the Chorus building.
Eketahuna memorial is the Hall and Fire Tower, Nireaha its Library and Kaiparoro a bridge. Substantial war memorial buildings constructed in the 1920’s as a memorial for the Great War, WWI. The concrete arch-type ANZAC Bridge (1922) can still be seen at Kaiparoro on State Highway 2, just north of Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Nireaha’s Library & war memorial is the sole physical reminder of a once larger community. Nireaha. Named after the Rangitane chief Nireaha Tāmaki, locally known as Bull’s-tail. He spent long years fighting for his right to the Mangatainoka Block. The early settlers in the district attempted to change the name to Evergreen. Nireaha is approximately 8 km from Eketahuna.
MAURICEVILLE METHODIST CHURCH
Mauriceville, 16 km from Eketāhuna has a stunning Methodist church (1881) built by Scandinavian settlers in 1872. Yet, once the bush was cleared the poor soil did not support small farms, and many settlers left. Mauriceville once had five primary schools, but now has only one. The town was named after Sir Maurice O’Rorke, minister for immigration in the 1870s, who encouraged the Scandinavian settlers. This simple but elegant church was built of pit-sawn timber in 1881. Its construction was overseen by Pastor Otto Christoffersen, a Methodist minister who was appointed to the Mauriceville district in 1880. The cross on the spire is in the Scandinavian style, with two upright points at the ends. The church is still used by descendants of the Scandinavian families that settled the area. Source NZPlaces history.
In 1920 Prince of Wales (briefly Edward VIII) of Mrs Simpson fame toured the colonies. The train stopped in Eketahuna for water, however he did not make an appearance. Annoyed locals burnt effigies of bureaucrats responsible for the oversight. To send a clear message, fire bells were rung.
- Nature walks
- Wind along the cliffs of Makakahi river to a basic campsite.
- Ellen Anderson (1882–1978), district nurse in Ekatāhuna
- Maori chief who hung onto Nireahu land. The Rangitane chief Nireaha Tāmaki, locally known as Bulls-tail. He spent long years fighting for his right to the Mangatainoka Block
- When the last doctor left town, the community established a medical centre; when the supermarket pulled out of town everyone contributed to open a cooperative store, now a Four Square, now a glorious bright green colour.
- Eketahuna as the town to nowhere, NZ slang is known to associate the town with Timbuktu (Africa) as a remote destination. The opposite is true.
- EKETAHUNA KIWI COUNTRY
- Eketahuna Golf Club Pro Am event. Everyone’s welcome and don’t mind the sheep on the course at other times of the year. Pro Am every January in conjunction with Masterton Golf Club.
NEARBY WHAT TO SEE
- The Tui Brewery, at Mangatainoka, is approximately 10 minutes drive north of Eketahuna. Tui HQ features the famed Tui tower, the Tuiversity Conference Centre, historic Flagon Room and Tui Cafe. There are guided tours and an excellent gift shop, all things Tui related. Need a cup holder then Tui can sell you one.
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- Outside public toilets with a 19th soldier’s mural, on the ladies entrance and inside with quirky slogans encouraging visitors to stay “just a little bit longer” or “busting to meet you.”
- Streetscape artwork
- Heritage trail buildings
WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS
- 3D ART MURAL
- Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre
- Clifftop walks along the local river with Newman Domain providing access to swimming holes in Makakahi River. Just the place for an impromptu picnic
- Model Railway encounter
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE?
Eketāhuna was originally named Mellemskov (heart of the forest) by the Scandinavian settlers in 1872. The colonial government promoted migrants offering passage and cheap blocks of uncleared land. Now known as Eketahuana, the name Eke means to land or come aground, and ‘tāhuna’ is a sandbank. One interpretation is that the site was the furthest south that canoes could travel on the Makakahi River.
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING?
- Agribusiness such as dairy, sheep and horse breeding
- 518 (2018)
- Nireaha-Eketāhuna statistical area has an estimated population of 1,630 as of June 2020
- Quirky one of a kind shops, friendly locals and a world class wildlife centre makes Eketahuna a bucket list destination for travellers in the slow lane.
Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Wellington & Wairarapa Region nearby attractions and events.
Unique journeys, personal adventures.