Matakoe Kauri Museum

As is our custom we took a while getting going on Thursday. We polished up ourselves a bit, and filled up with water and dumped our waste in readiness for the next few days. We needed fuel for Suzi and so headed for the BP truck stop in Dargaville. We drove along the road and didn’t see it. So we turned around – no mean feat – and drove back and still couldn’t find it. We parked up and unhitched the car and continued our search. Eventually we learnt that the truck stop had been removed which explained our fruitless search. We headed for the BP service station instead and managed to sidle up to the diesel pump. Apparently this is what the big trucks have to do now as well – must be interesting. Then we visited the supermarket for fuel for ourselves. We’d had enough of Dargaville by now, so hitched up the car and headed out of town. We went south, down the river and through Ruawai – home of the kumera. We wanted to get some more kumara and this seemed a good chance to get some. There was a roadside stall in Ruawai with room to park up across the road. The stall said to pay the money at the engineering place it was outside. The office of the engineering place said that if it was unattended to use the next door. Crikey, I only wanted some spuds. The next door opened into the workshop. The radio was blasting but nobody was around. I poked all round the place but couldn’t find anybody. So eventually I found my way back outside, replaced the bag of kumara on the stall and we left town with our money and our disappointment. Seems a funny way to business.

We drove on through lush farmland to Matakoe and the famous Matakoe Kauri Museum. Everyone told us we had to see it, and we had to allow a whole day. We parked up and unhitched the car and made ourselves some lunch and finally made our way into the museum. Everything everyone had said was right; it is an incredible museum. Somehow the ‘museum’ title doesn’t quite do it justice. It is a wonderful collection of everything to do with kauri. They give you a map and a compass might help as well, along with some string to tell where you’ve been and how to get back out again. It just goes on and on through hall after hall. There’s lots of amazing photos of the kauri fellers and the gum diggers. It’d be worth the admission price of $15 for these alone. There’s huge slabs of kauri trees, including a vertical slab that has to be presented horizontally. Then there’s a recreated sawmill – the whole thing. Towards the back there is a recreated boarding house – inside! One of my favourite things was a representation on a wall of the various big kauri trees – their outlines were shown. Tane Mahuta was one of the smaller outlines. One confused the person who stumbled on it; he thought at first glimpse that it was a cliff in the bush. He realised that he could see past it and that it wasn’t a cliff after all – it was a tree!

They let motorhomes park in their carpark, and we did just that – this would allow us to return to the museum the next morning to see a couple more things that we’d missed. The best flat bit was outside the community hall so we didn’t have to move far. We had neighbours; people from Bendigo in Victoria in a Maui rental campervan. It was a nice new one but still didn’t have any way of heating without being on 240v in a camping ground or by running the engine. We were soon cosy and warm and ready for Coronation Street.

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