Discover the fascinating, odd collections and places of beauty where danger lurks in Taranaki from quirky Fun Ho toy collections, taxidermy museums, poignant toy collections cemented in Elthan’s memory wall and a road dedicated to surfing culture. Taranak’s unique interesting places are worth a detour.
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BEAUTIFUL BUT DANGEROUS
Absorb Mt Taranaki as it is tipped in snow, a perfect symmetrical volcanic cone rising out of rolling pastures and viewed from most places in Taranaki. Yet one of New Zealand’s most photographed mountains is dangerous. The 2,518 metre mountain’s climate is so unpredictable that it is considered to be one of the reasons the mountain is where over 80 climbers have perished. Aoraki, Mt Cook has the honours as the most difficult. While the beauty is compared with Japan’s national treasure, the magnificent Mount Fuji and has acted as a substitute for Fuji in the 2003 Tom Cruise blockbuster, The Last Samurai it is a place demanding respect.
WHANGAMOMONA – An unofficial republic
THE REPUBLIC OF WHANGAMOMONA has had a goat elected as mayor. The Republic was vehemently opposed to local government reform in 1989 made the town part of Manawatu-Whanganui. Republic day is a festival drawing thousands of visitors mourning the loss of Taranaki as the local government office holder. The Forgotten Highway is a glorious road trip starting or ending in Stratford.
EXTRAORDINARY MUSEUM COLLECTIONS
Manutahi Taxidermy Museum has an extraordinary collection of animal heads. 10 one of a kind Taranaki places worth a detour describes an entire farm shed occupied with animals forever poised to leap or fly from their perch. The prominently displayed CITES certificate on endangered species makes the polar bear exhibit acceptable. The collection’s speciality is birds, looking very realistic, beedy and slightly spooky behind their glass cabinets.
ELTHAM TOY WALL is art reimagined. The quirky collection was originally a lost and found collection now its rapidly becoming Eltham’s identity as a caring community. There are hundreds of toys cemented into the wall, all of them found. Today donations are sent to the Local Lions Club from all over the country to add to the wall. For details Eltham Things To Do – Eltham Travel Guide on Best Bits.
ELTHAM has the glory of baking the world’s largest scone weighing an enormous 119.45kg in 2010. Recorded in the Guinness World Record database. The local cafe specialising in gooey cheese scones (jam + cream) for visitors.
Hawera is home to the Elvis Presley Museum. The blue suede shoes are never off the feet of the passionate collector and fan of all things Elvis. The place is absolutely packed with memorabilia from the floor to the ceiling with background music to get the toes tapping.
Take a boat ride in a museum (Tawhiti Museum) Hawera through a 19th century exhibition of Maori and European encounters, Traders and Whalers. The museum continues to impress with the sheer energy of one person to create the story of Taranaki. The hand made models are created by art teacher Nigel Ogle’s passion for Taranaki. Visitors can also ride the Tawhiti Bush Railway.
FUN HO! TOY MUSEUM INGLEWOOD
It is fascinating what becomes famous once manufacturing has ceased. The toy is now a kiwi icon and has a museum dedicated to the 1940’s – 1970’s metal cars, fire engines and other vehicles. The biggest toy in the museum is 710mm long and the smallest cars are an Austin and Morris Mini which are each only 35mm long. The oldest is No. 1, a red and yellow fire engine pump. There are over 3,000 Fun Ho! toys are displayed. For more information about Inglewood check here.
In the centre of town is the usual war memorial to World War I. The memorial was dedicated in 1924 to the sorrowing soldier. Look behind the memorial at the rhododendron. The truly massive plant is a pre-1850 hybrid, ‘Sir Robert Peel’, planted in 1924 and Inglewood residents claim it is one of the largest rhododendrons in the southern hemisphere.
QUIRKY ROAD TRIP
Taranaki has a road trip dedicated to surfing, aptly named Surf Highway. There are enormous surf boards for a selfie moment, surf breaks called Kumera Patch and Graveyard break. There are beaches with the wild west feel of solitude, pounding ocean swells and driftwood where surfers are to be found. A homage to California is right at home in Taranaki, complete with wetsuits and festivals in towns such as Opunake.
STRATFORD MALONE MEMORIAL GATES
Nothing is done by halves in Taranaki. Discover the largest memorial gates in New Zealand, Stratford. And the gates are dedicated to an individual soldier. They were erected in 1924 for Lieutenant Colonel W G Malone of Stratford. The clue to the gate’s creation, W G Malone, was a prominent figure in local politics for a number of years with significant contributions to the economic development of his home town.
The meat-eating snail Powelliphanta ‘Egmont’ is a native resident. It has been found on the northwestern flanks of Mt Taranaki in Egmont National Park. It occurs rather patchily and sparsely over about 30 ha around the junction of the Kokowai and the Round-the-Mountain Track. There is likely debate about its formal identification.
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