We were on a brief visit to Kaikohe when we were holidaying in Hokianga on a wet day. We walked along the main street of Kaikohe and we had a few hours and nothing much to do and we followed a signboard that said Pioneer Village which we could have missed or ignored as it was very nondescript. We also missed any brochures or advertising for this place when I had checked attractions in the area. Even very friendly lady at the Opononi information Centre missed it and the fact that it was not listed on Trip Advisor shows that the place needed a lot more attention to marketing it.
I am so glad we visited the Pioneer Village as I learnt more about the life of early settlers in New Zealand in one and a half hours compared to all my 18 years in New Zealand so it is well worth a visit.
We were welcomed by two lovely ladies on a very wet day to the village and were told that we could either stroll around or pay $12 each for a guided tour which will take us to the inside of each of the buildings. We opted for the latter and it was the best $24 we had paid during our holiday.
The lovely young local Maori girl who accompanied us was full of local knowledge and was a delightful hostess who obviously loved her job. We visited all the ancient buildings, relocated to the village from their various locations and lovingly restored to their former glory with a lot of attention to detail. Each building was built in the early days of the English settlers which took us back a couple of hundred years back to wonder and appreciate the ingenuity and perseverance of those people who left for the unknown.
The Village has a real railway that runs round it which needs to be booked ahead as the train driver has other duties and need to be booked. It would be a wonderful ride for children who can learn about the life of people who came to New Zealand many years ago to build a land that is one of the best in the world to live in now.
There is a beautifully restored church with an exquisite stained glass window, restored wooden floors and pews. A school room with desks and benches and even an old fashioned slate and cases that carried books that I and my husband remembered with nostalgia from our own school days in another former British colony half a century ago provided us a trip down memory lane. We even found some text books that we remembered. There was a house Maioha Cottage which has a furnished lounge, kitchen, three bedrooms which had every conceivable item in a real house build around 1885. There was a granary, an outhouse, a courthouse and a police station complete with an interesting jail that had nothing but a cold stone floor and a large stone with a hole for a toilet and we were told that the Policeman’s wife had the cleaning duties. Crime rates must have been low as there was only room for two prisoners in the jail. There was a fire station with gleaming fire trucks, saw mills, agricultural equipment, a doctor’s surgery and what our delightful guide referred to as the “murder house” –a dentist’s surgery with a collection of ancient teeth with metal fillings.
We moved from one building to another in the rain under huge umbrellas and spent a delightful afternoon going back to half to two centuries in time.
The Pioneer Village needs to market itself a lot more as we suggested to the ladies who run it. We were told that they have two open days a year and that local school kids visit it but it is a place that should be visited by anyone who visits New Zealand to learn about the Pioneers who made this country what it is today.
I shall be back again with family and friends who visit us and it will be a stopover when we visit the Bay of Islands or Cape Reinga which are better known destinations for tourists.
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