Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bill Richardson – Transport World

Bill Richardson is a big name down here in Invercargill – and his Transport World Museum has to be seen to be believed.  Collecting his first truck in 1967, and adding many other vehicles over the years, more than 50 years later the collection grew to become Transport World and is now housed in a huge purpose built building.  His one wish was “I hope when I die that someone will be interested enough to carry it on”.  Transport World in now directed by Bill’s daughter and family, and is going from strength to strength.  It was a cold and rainy morning when we visited, and this place was top of Robin’s South Island Bucket List, being the petrol head and car lover that he is.


Just in the door was the mighty 1940 Dodge RX70 Texaco Tanker, one of 75 ordered by the company.  After it’s time with Texaco, it was used for water cartage before going to the wreckers, and was finally bought by Bill Richardson in 1992.  Being quite badly damaged, the restoration took four years. 

Texaco Truck

Looking down at the first display

Even a philistine like myself is well aware of Henry Ford and his Model T car, but I did not know that there was quite a range of famous  “Letter Cars”.  And this collections boasts: 1904 AC Runabout, 1904 Model C, 1905 Model F, 1906 Model N, 1907 Model R, 1907 Model S, 1910 Model T, 1915 Model T, and lastly, a 1907 Model K 6 cylinder, one of only eight restored.

Some of Henry Ford’s Letter Cars

There was also quite a selection of Henry Ford’s convertibles through the years, from a 1928 Model A to a 1946 V8.  These would have surely made quite a statement as their rich and fashionable owners took them out for a spin.

Henry Ford’s convertibles

And how about this for a Paddy Wagon?  This bright and shiny 1925 Ford T is an exact replica of the first motorized Paddy Wagon in New Zealand.

1925 Paddy Wagon

We even found a caravan tucked away.  The Ranger Camp Trailer was manufactured in the 1950s by Hillie Engineering, in Anaheim, and only 200 were ever produced.

Ranger Camp Trailer

And then there were the trucks.  Rows and rows of bright shiny ones, all nicely lined up.  Robin was in truck heaven, as he wandered up and down, admiring them all.

Trucks galore

And the green Bedford brought back special memories.  Robin’s Dad Curley had one just like it which he used for his milk delivery business.  And when the family went out and abut, the older boys sat in the tray against the back of the cab.  This wouldn’t be allowed today!

Just like Dad had

Some of these need restoring

Tractors on display

The film playing described how the tracked vehicles evolved, and how the name caterpillar came about and was registered. Company photographer Charles Clements was reported to have observed that the tractor crawled like a caterpillar and Benjamin Holt of Holt Engineering seized on the metaphor. "Caterpillar it is. That's the name for it”.

And big yellow caterpillar machines

There were plenty of bowsers, car grills, oil cans, garage machinery and other bits and pieces on display throughout  the different halls.

Petrol bowsers

Even the bathrooms had motorized touch, especially the men's.

Mirrors framed by gears and pipe toilet roll holders

Racing seat in the loo

There was a small theatre playing the iconic Kiwi film “Goodbye Pork Pie” continuously.  This is all about three would be crooks and a yellow mini, and their adventures as they outwit the police as they try their very best to drive the car to Invercargill.  Sitting in that bright yellow mini, it looks like Robin has already made it to Invercargill!

Goodbye Pork Pie

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Invercargill in the Deep South

It was just a short 26km drive today to our next overnight stop at Invercargill.  The car and caravan were humming along nicely on SH29 when the radio news came on.  The news was grim – traffic was banked up for miles as drivers were trying to leave Auckland for New Year, and the same problem was happening in Wellington along Kapiti Coast.  But check out the state of the roads down here as we were getting near to Invercargill – not another  car in sight on the road!

No traffic on the road down here

We pulled into Ascot Raceway, in practically the same place by the grand-stand as we were six years ago.  Muffy was traveling with us back then, and we remembered that she found a bush of cat-nip in the garden and rolled about all over the place  with a happy look on her face!  There is one more power point beside us, so perhaps another van may join us later on.

At Ascot Raceway

The race track

There is a thriving Fruit Market up and running in the old wooden tote building, selling lots of lovely local fruit.  I purchased some fresh Otago apricots and some more cherries – both nice and tasty.  Customers were coming and going all day and there was a bit of excitement in the afternoon.  The father of a family group was looking for the toilets and wrenched open a door, setting off the burglar alarm.  It rang, and rang so loudly, on and on, and we advised the family to stay to explain what had happened.  Eventually the manager arrived to reset it, peace ensued, and the family went on their way.

Ascot Raceway Fruit Market

Robin was looking for a hose connection and what better place to go looking than E Hayes and Sons Hardware world famous in Invercargill.  Ernest Hayes originally started his engineering business in Oturehua, and invented the Hayes fence strainer in 1905 – still manufactured today and used on nearly every farm in New Zealand.  The hardware shop was opened in Invercargill in 1932 and is still going strong today.


Hayes delivery van

Burt Munroe was a southern bloke with a passion for speed and  is well known for his motorbike which was known as “The World’s Fastest Indian”.  In August 1967 Burt claimed the World Record for Class S-A 1000cc with an average speed of 184mph, a record which still stands.  After a stroke in 1977 Burt Munroe sold his beloved bikes and the contents of his shed to Hayes to ensure it remained in Southland.    People visit the shop from far and wide to check out the wonderful vintage bike and other memorabilia – and there were plenty there today.


Burt Munroe’s original bike protected in a glass case

Replica Streamliner aerodynamic shell originally designed by Burt Munroe

On our drive back to the van we passed by the magnificent Town Hall, built in 1906 and fully renovated in 2005 – such a lovely building.  The complex has a Category 1 New Zealand Historic Places Trust classification which means the building is of national significance.

Invercargill Town Hall

Friday, December 29, 2017

Catlins Heritage Trail

The little rental campers and cars kept coming in during the early evening, with about 8 joining us overnight.  A few pitched tents, and one had the tent on top of the car.  No way would I go camping in that, I told Robin!

This is not my idea of a camping holiday

We left the camp bright and early, driving out under the intriguing entrance to the camp/café.  That’s a little rail cart used to haul lignite up on top of rail lines, a very clever idea indeed to use it to make such a stunning entrance.

Entrance to the property

The plan today was to follow the Catlins Heritage Trail, then return back along the Southern Scenic Route.  Although we had seen most of the attractions when we were down this way six years earlier, we decided to have another look at what the area has to offer.  The Catlins region owes its name to Captain Cattlin, (1792 – 1856),  with a slight difference in spelling, a Sydney-based whaling captain who traded along the South Otago coast. In 1840 Captain Cattlin bought a vast tract of land from local Maori in order to stake his claim on the area, however, after years of negotiation, most of the purchase was disallowed.

We started our trip visiting Fortrose, situated at the mouth of The Mataura River.  A whaling station was started in 1834, but was soon abandoned, but this whale pot survived, which was used for rendering down blubber.
Fortrose Beach whale pot and freedom campers parked up looking over the beach

A good part of the road was dusty and unsealed with the 4WD bumping along with the windows wound up tight to keep all the dust out.  But we were pleasantly surprised to find nice new seal on the road to Slope Point.  The car park was a new addition since our previous visit, we just parked along the road side before.  And we made sure that we were well rugged up for our walk over farmland to Slope Point, remembering the viciously cold winds that buffeted us around last time.  The ugly little squat lighthouse on the point was not at all romantic and attractive, as lighthouses often are.  But it does the job, so that’s the main thing.

Slope Point Lighthouse

Slope Point is the most southerly point on the South Island, and is 7kms further south than Bluff.  Those nasty cold winds were not in evidence today, and scores of young tourists arrived being less warmly clad than us.  We asked a tourist to kindly take our photo, then returned the favour to several other couples and family groups.

No nasty cold winds at Slope Point today

slope point all
It was so much colder 6 years ago – Geoff, Dot, Pauline, Robin, Jenny and Derek

View from Slope Point with Waipapa Lighthouse in the distance

And to prove how the winds howl through this area, check out these trees with all the foliage blown off the windward side.

Trees at Slope Point

We traveled on to Curio Bay, the home of a petrified forest.  At low tide petrified stumps and fallen trees can be viewed, due to a disaster which happened a mind boggling 180 million years old during the Jurassic period.   The forest was killed suddenly by an eruption of volcanic ash, with the ash  forming the hard sandstone beds in the cliff edges.  Eventually the sandstone strata were cut back by sea action, to reveal the broken logs and stumps still in their original positions.  Luckily our visit coincided with low tide.


Curio Bay and the Petrified Forest

A brand new Information Centre and Café has been built here since our last visit, and has only been open for two weeks we were told.  The project was built by the South Catlins Community Trust as the local community was concerned that increasing numbers of visitors were impacting negatively on Curio Bay and its wildlife due to lack of suitable infrastructure.  The Curio Bay Tumu Toka Natural Heritage Centre will now  provide employment and protect this precious area for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Natural Heritage Centre at Curio Bay

The next bay along the coast was the very pretty Porpoise Bay,  and we were lucky to see some Hector’s Dolphins playing in the water.  They were a little hard to see, with their fins breaking the surface as they frolicked around a group of surf boarders.


Porpoise Bay and sighting of a dolphin

Another place we hadn’t stopped at previously was the old concrete horse trough, built in 1890, a stop to water the horse teams after they had climbed Cemetery Hill.  The trip down the hill was often perilous, with the brakes sometimes failing on the Waikawa-Fortrose coach on the downhill journey.  The concrete trough is now unused and overgrown, but is still an interesting piece of colonial history.

Old concrete horse trough

Don’t laugh – but New Zealand has it’s own tiny version of Niagara Falls.  They were so named by a surveyor who had seen the mighty Niagara Falls and named these small falls after them as a joke.  They are really just a trickle, and people come from far and wide to look and wonder!  The NZMCA Niagara site is close by and was had quite a number of vans staying there.

Niagara Falls – Kiwi version
We drove back to Fortrose along the Southern Scenic Route and enjoyed an ice-cream before continuing back to camp.  What a great day exploring, and seeing again some of the attractions of this area.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Next Stop - the Lignite Pit

It was a single night stop only at Tuapeka Mouth, and not a single camper called in to join us.  But the neighbours were friendly, and the blokes driving their utes or tractors all gave us a cheery wave as they drove up the road passing the church where we were camped.  We back-tracked down the eastern side of the Clutha River, crossing over the river at Clydevale – driving over one of those single lane bridges with a passing bay in the middle. 

Crossing the Clutha River

We called briefly into Gore to use the dump station, then carried on to Asher Road to stay a couple of nights at the Lignite Pit and Café.  Several people had recommended this intriguing sounding CAP (charges apply parking) so it was top of our list for this area.  Luckily we had phoned ahead as there were only two power sites – although there is plenty of room for those who wish to go off power.


Lunch at the café sounded like a good idea before we went exploring, and we ordered  hot roast pork sandwich (actually served in a bread roll) for him, and seafood chowder for her.  All very tasty, and just a light meal required in the evening.

Lunch at the café

And to walk off our lunch, we went through the red gate to see how an open cast  lignite mine can transformed to a thing of beauty.  There is a $2 charge for this, but no charge for campers, we were told.


It is beautiful serene place, with insects happily buzzing around the flowering bushes, and plenty of water fowl in the lake, and resting on the banks.  A group of young swans were making quite a racket as the busily flapped their wings on the lake, practicing their takeoff technique perhaps?


Plenty of birdlife around

There were paths everywhere, little bridges here and there, and seats scattered around for people to sit and relax while looking out over the lake.  The garden started as a dream for Dave and Maria Sanderson back in 2004, when the family got in a digger and started to remove the rubbish from the flooded lignite pit.  Seven years of hard work and love later, they have transformed the disused lignite pit into the nature friendly habitat is it today.  Barry and Maree are now the new owners of The Lignite Pit Café and Secret Garden.   Maree was looking for a wedding venue for her and Barry and came across this tranquil garden and decided the easiest way to book the wedding venue was to buy it.

More views of the lake

So what actually is lignite, you are probably wondering.  It is the lowest quality of coal, formed at the depth of 1km, and found in Otago and Southland.  The lignite coal deposits were first worked in 1904, tunneling to start, then the mine progressed to open cast mining.  A pump was necessary to deal with the oncoming water in the pit.  When lignite sales dropped considerably and it was no longer viable to continue, the pit closed in 1971.  The  pump was turned off and water filled the pit.

Rail cart used for lignite