January 1st

Tour Day 3

Happy New Year!  


Matakohe Kauri timber Museum

Today's journey began with an interesting trip to the Matakohe Kauri timber Museum (web site).   Kauri trees are huge, straight-trunked trees that once dominated the forests of the North Island.  Their timber was valuable for ship building, housing, and furniture because it is straight and waterproof.  Unfortunately, so much of it was used by the early settlers, that the kauri forests were severely depleted.  The remaining Kauri trees are now protected.  Only fallen trees or branches may now be used for wood-working.  Because of its waterproof properties, logs that fell into or lost in swamps can be brought up, slowly dried, and then used.  Other than the wood being darker in color, you would never guess that it had been under water for years. 

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This is a Gang Saw used to saw large timbers into individual boards.  It has a set of vertical blades (like large hacksaw blades) which cuts the timber into individual boards in a single pass.

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A 136 hp Tangye engine typical of those used in the mills.  We saw several Tangye engines of various sizes.

The engine drove the mechanism which moved the saw through the blade as well as the blade itself.  Rather than the circular saw blade familiar to many, this one used a long flat blade which moved up and down.  This allowed them to cut logs larger than what would have been practical with a circular blade.

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A rather large band saw ...

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A life-size steam sawmill, with mannequins representing local settlers, shows how the logs were milled.  The mannequins were shown performing typical operations.

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Here is Joan showing the size of the Kauri logs ...

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Resin, exuded by the trees, became a valuable commodity in those early days.  Resin hunting, was often dangerous work.  Today, the resin's value has diminished and is used for jewelry and art.  The polished gum or amber is beautiful.

The loggers would climb the trees and notch them causing the tree to produce more resin.  We were told of one case where a human skeleton was found in the upper part of a Kauri tree.  It was theorized that the climber had been working alone and had climbed up to rest.  Apparently he had accidentally dropped his climbing gear and, being about 80 feet up in the air, was unable to climb down.

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The sign says: "Fossil Kauri, Still wood after 30,000,000 years underground".  I guess you could make some LONG lasting furniture with Kauri wood !

Some of the engines in the museum:

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Next-door to the museum was a small church that caught our interest so Larry and I spent some time photographing it:

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After a light lunch in a small cafe near the museum, we were off to the Monterey Park Motor Museum and Model World.


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Larry has an interest in windmills.  While traveling to Model World he noticed this unusual windmill and convinced us to stop the coach so that he could get a photo of it.  It ws unusual in that it had cloth blades on it.


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Further down the road we stopped to look at this Kauri tree.  The plaque near the tree says that it is called "The McKinney Kauri".  The height to the first limb is 11.89 m and it's center girth is 7.62 m.  It is 800 years old and is estimated to contain 43.1 cubic meters of wood.

As you can see, Joan and Larry together can't get their arms half way around it :-)

Local Maori have named New Zealand's largest living Kauri tree Tane Mahuta, "the god of the forest".  It is about 1,500 years old and has a diameter of 14' 4".  Since Kauri tree's  lower limbs fall off as the tree grows, there are no knots in the wood which is one of the features that make it so valuable.  We saw 2 younger, smaller trees--only 800 (pictured here) and 500 years old.

Some Countryside we passed through today (unfortunately 'scenery' photos are hard to get to come out well, especially from a bus doing 110 kilometers per hour!):

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Monterey Park Motor Museum and Model World

The museum (web site) contains several buildings as well as scale outdoor displays and a 15" gauge railway loop.  One of the buildings contained a large HO train layout.  One of the most interesting displays was the model boat building.  In the center of the lower level it contained a large pool in which several model boats were moored as well as a couple of R/C boats that a man was running:

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One of the boats running in the 'pond' was this fellow constantly rowing.  Turns out he has a small electric motor and cam system that reproduces a very convincing rowing action which was fascinating to watch.

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Outside on the grounds was this set (among others) of buildings modeled after actual buildings in Auckland.  The building on the left is a replica of the ferry terminal complete with a ferry that crossed the pond to the left and docked at the building about every 20 minutes or so.

In one of the building was an automobile collection with too many cars to describe but here are some sample photos:

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A special vehicle:

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Our son David really wants a Ducati motorcycle ... but I think the model he wants is a little newer than this model !  :-)

Soon we were on our way back to Auckland for a few days.  After getting settled in the hotel and just before heading out the door to find a restaurant for dinner, Chuck happened to have the TV on.  We saw a live broadcast of the dropping of the giant ball in New York's Time Square.  Now we felt that it was official--2004 was really here.  Joan and I then went to dinner at an Indian restaurant.  Larry and Elaine decided to go a 'less spicy' route and headed off to find a burger restaurant ...


Next day:  January 2nd