For those of you who think all we are interested in is scenery and wildlife, today was a counterexample. This morning we decided to go to a museum called Warbirds and Wheels before leaving Wanaka. As the name indicates, there were warplanes flown by New Zealanders in WWI and WWII and after. Also many classic cars, including a Duesenberg owned by Carole Lombard, a 1930 Austin 7 you could sit in (see photo), a 1957 Chevy station wagon, and many others. Also, as seen in the photo, some dresses from a biennial presentation of “wearable art,” dresses made from “recycled materials.” Two were made from zippers, one from scissors and Swiss army knives confiscated at airports, one from pipecleaners, etc. In addition, there was an exhibit on the deer industry in New Zealand (and now we know to where deer pizzles are exported), and an art exhibit that travels to schools around the country. A fairly eclectic collection.
Larry was curious about a tank we saw just down the road, so we stopped, and it was the National Transport and Toy Museum, the collection of one man. It advertises 600 vehicles and 50,000 toys, and there are probably more. Parked side by side, row after row, squeezed in around airplanes, etc. Most at least partially restored, some not at all. The collection includes many fire engines, motorcycles, bicycles. Also a tank and quite a few airplanes, including a 1960s MIG-21.
Also a steamroller, with a steam engine and a coal bin for heating the water. Not so many boats and trains.
And toys—Barbie dolls, probably a complete collection of Star Wars toys, Meccano (Erector set—type toys), Lego, dolls, stuffed animals, mechanical toys. Also a collection of irons (clothes-pressing type)—the most God-awful assortment of stuff you can imagine. Really overwhelming.
After 4 hours in these 2 museums, about 3:30 we decided to hit the road for the West Coast. Along the way we stopped at Blue Pools, Fantail Falls, and Thunder Creek Falls. At the first two, people had stacked up towers of river stones (see Fantail Falls photo). Also at the Gates of Haast—where a torrent pours through a narrow gorge with HUGE boulders. After these delays, we finally decided to camp in a DOC campground—Pleasant Flat, probably about 1 ½ hours driving time from Wanaka. We are over the pass, and past the place where a landslide took out the highway not too long ago. It is still clear and relatively warm—but the sandflies are getting bad.