© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Eltham & Hollard Gardens – Day 55

© NZPocketGuide.com

Day 55 on the Road

Stopping in Eltham and Hollard Gardens in South Taranaki

Today on New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year, we are stopping by the cheese capital of New Zealand, Eltham and Hollard Gardens. Oh yeah, and our campervan tyre explodes…

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So today we have a pretty easy day. We are driving from Stratford where we’ve been spending the last few days to the little settlement of Opunake. It’s a 30-minute drive. We have planned a couple of stops in it so we should be done in a couple of hours.

We are making our way to Opunake. We are going to take maybe about two hours to get there stopping along the way to see a town which is meant to be the cheese capital of New Zealand which has got Robin wet in his pants. But it turns out that Eltham is actually a ghost town. there is no one and nothing. So we’re walking around the the main street and we stop along and see all the shops. Everything is like abandoned and all closed. Closed here, closed here, closed there, closed there, closed here, closed there.

Erm, is that a residence home which simply says old folks on it?

The story of Eltham and why it’s so popular is basically because there was a Chinese guy called Chew Chong which came to New Zealand in the late 1800s and so he arrived from China where milk and dairy products were absolutely not popular at this time. He was like: “Hey, I like milk, butter and cheese. I think that’s going to be a great thing for the world. And this is going to be a great industry for New Zealand.” So he was like: “Hey my sister my brother we’re going to export that to the world.” So he bought a big farm here in Eltham and industrialised it making it like all the process much more automatic and mechanical so you can produce much bigger quantity at a cheaper price and start exporting it. I think it’s in 1892 that he actually sent the first butter to England starting the New Zealand dairy industry which is now the biggest industry in the country. And so we learned that a few days ago when going dairy farming. I think that’s the story. I am probably totally wrong. Since those days it looks like the place hasn’t been touched. The buildings have been neglected somewhat and it literally looks like all the shops and homes here people have just up and left and not taken a thing with them. We look through some shop windows there’s still things in there old dolls heads, there’s a whole memorial to a lady inside a shop with literally all her possessions saying like you know like In loving memory of Barbra and all the stuff is still left in that house. This is house much of a ghost town is, even the houses are grave stones. Literally for you know ghosts. It’s a bizarre town. I am looking for the cheese of Eltham. I will be finding some cheese here. I have heard it’s a great cheese town. i will find cheese. Are we going to find cheese? Will you find cheese? I can’t find cheese but I think you will be able to. Do you have cheese? I want cheese. Follow my nose. And find cheese. Four Square?

Hey man, looks like you got a lot of cheese right here or at least you have the milk. Where can I get some cheese here? Oh. What’s that? Oh. He doesn’t know. Keep on looking. So we arrive inside the cheese bar and well. that was not what I expected. there is no bar. there is no one serving you there is no super fancy cheese. it’s basically everything that is already in the supermarket. Yeah, I mean what noise does dreams shattered make? Cos that’s basically the sound you should be playing right now. Going to try some cheese. All together on the same cracker? No, bite them individually. What the hell? I’m sorry, I’m not usually picky about things I see in New Zealand really like everywhere we’ve seen so far has been pretty awesome but I’m sorry this cheese bar is disappointment.

So let’s move onto the Hollard Gardens. For once in New Zealand we are driving down a straight road and we hear a just BANG. That BANG sound is the sound of metal wheel touching the ground where tyre is meant to be in between. the tyre has exploded. Robin’s phoning the roadside assistance – having issues there but finally the message gets across where we are, that we need someone to come and change our tyre. usually if you have a small campervan or a car you can change the tyre yourself. it’s a job everyone should learn to do if they are a driver. But we have been advised not with this massive campervan with this massive motorhome not to do that ourselves. There’s a special way of doing it. That’s not pretty is it?You’ve done a good job. The mechanic is done. He’s like hey here’s your paper slip for the car. Get the bolts checked within 100km – that’s the law.

So we arrive at the Hollard Gardens which is one of the three most prestigious gardens of Taranaki which were created and maintained during its lifespan by Burney Hollard. There’s some fantails which aren’t actually that scared of us so we get some cool little pictures of those guys and we are following the fantails and to my surprise there are plants and flowers in bloom during winter. to me, I thought flowers didn’t bloom in the winter but camellias do so this is a surprise and a welcomed surprise. More pictures of more plants because Laura loves plants. We end up at the Hollard Centre this is a building with some like vintage stuff in there but the real draw to Hollard Centre is the complimentary tea and coffee.

It’s time to head to Opunake where we’re going to be spending the night int he Opunake Holiday Park. There is some gnarly waves it’s a surfer’s paradise and we can’t wait to spend the day there tomorrow!

I’ve been here for three days – no one suspects anything.