Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

The town centre at Palmerston North

The town centre at Palmerston North

The town centre at Palmerston North

A new town centre baby

Inside the Rugby Museum

Inside the Rugby Museum

A friendly Wanganui

Sylvia’s comments

Last night when I was walking over to the ablutions I got talking to some fellow campers who were sitting outside the kitchen eating their tea. I mention this fact as it is usually Jeff who disappears for hours talking to people when either it is time to prepare a meal or a pile of dishes need washing. So one up for the woman’s rights movement, except no work was required to be done in the van.

This morning we were going to drive back up the road to the small township of Mangatainoka where the Tui Brewery has its headquarters, a short journey of about five minutes. We had been told last night that the tour was at 10.30 am so we had plenty of time. Well that was the theory of it till Jeff went out and met my ‘friends’ from last night and got talking. Our fellow motorhome club members came from just above Auckland and have invited us to camp at their property when in their area. I ended up at 10.15 asking Jeff if he wanted to visit Tui as we were going to be late, all wires and TV cables were disconnected at double quick time and we were on our way.

You can now buy Tui anywhere in NZ but that has not always been possible. The brewery was established by Henry Wagstaff in 1889 when he stopped to make himself a cup of tea on the banks of the Mangatainoka River. He discovered it was the best cup of tea he had ever enjoyed and decided to build himself a brewery on the very spot. All our rushing this morning was to no avail as there were no tours to day. Do I hear you all offering Jeff your sorrows? The brewery was busy preparing for a special lunch for the farmers as a treat to forget the problems of the drought for a short while. The staff opened up the small museum and put a video on for us but no tasting.

After a look around the museum we were off once again up SH 2 till we reached Woodville once more. Here we used the local grey water site and bought fresh fruit and veggies at a local farm shop. Suitably stocked up we were now driving along SH 3 towards the Manawatu Gorge. The Maori’s named this gorge Te Apiti (the Narrow Passage) believing the big reddish rock near the centre of the gorge was its guardian spirit. The journey through the gorge was spectacular but unfortunately we were going the wrong way as all the pulling in spots were on the other side of the highway and it was impossible to pull in due to all the bends and the oncoming traffic. So as we have no pictures you will just have to take our word for it.

Our next stop was at the city of Palmerston North, or 'Palmy' as the locals call it. One of the main attractions for me here was the New Zealand Rugby Museum. With the help of my trusty road map I guided the driver through the city centre and straight to the door of the museum only to find it closed for lunch. Well this would give us a chance to see something of the city, so parking the van we walked the short distance into the centre. Palmerston North is the main city of Manawatu and is home to more than 70 major educational and research institutes. Massey University, the largest university in NZ is based here as well as the Adidas Institute of Rugby. The centre of the city is a picturesque grassy square, with Maori sculptures, rose gardens, War Memorial and a duck pond. Around this square is a mixture of old and new buildings blended well together and making up the shopping and café areas. We walked around the square and then had lunch.

It was now time to return to the museum and I spent a happy hour just wandering around looking at all the exhibits and reminiscing about players I remembered from days gone by. The museum was not just about NZ rugby but had a mixture of many visiting national teams that had played here. So there were a few ‘well kent’ Scottish faces on the walls. Before leaving I needed to visit the ladies and was a little intimidated sitting there next to the life sized cardboard model of Jonah Lomu standing in the corner. As it was too large to smuggle out he is still standing there for future ladies to admire.

All to soon it was time to move on and in the words of the great Willie Nelson song ‘on the road again,’ we were now travelling to Wanganui, our stop for tonight. We found a campsite just a little way out of town and right on the banks of the Whanganui River. No I have not made a typing error. The river and National Park have reverted to the Maori pronunciation of the name, the ‘h’ having a breathy sound. As the town was dominated by Pakeha ( Europeans) the ‘h’ was omitted. Both versions are pronounced ‘wan-ga’

As we booked in the lady in reception recognised our names and informed us that we had some post to collect, our passports were now back in our possession at last. Moving on to our site the welcoming committee of a duck arrived to check we were ok and if there was any bread going. Before it got dark we carried our seats down to the river bank and enjoyed sitting reading in the late afternoon sunshine.

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