Travel day, Whangerai – Auckland

Travel day
Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

A travel day. I was on the bus just before midday, the YHA dropped three of us off in town before ten, for their own reasons, which gave me time to explore.

Clocks, clocks, clocks, on the wall, on shelves, in display cases
The clock museum. Mesmerising. Possibly massively irritating if you’re there too long

Just round the corner from the bus stop in Whangerai was The Piggery, a large second hand book shop. I happily lost half an hour in there, wondering whether I fancied any New Zealand fiction (writers from the country, I think, rather than ‘NZ is a large spaceship’, ‘NZ was sculpted by a golem and flipped precisely four times to give mountains time to form’) before remembering I am travelling without masses of space, and have a list of books as long as your arm. Middlemarch simply refuses to read itself.

I had time to browse Clapham’s Clock museum, which they tell you is the national clock museum so you don’t get confused with any others. Very sensible – clock museum status is absolute bloody chaos in other countries. If you want to get in there and make a time based pun, you’ll have to be quick, the German lady behind the counter was straight in there with ‘the perfect *time*’ when I said I had an hour to kill. Just part one of a rich vein of material, I’m sure.

Licence plate on a white car: "I Ring U"
Okay, I answer you.

While I was in there plenty of people came into the shop but only I paid the $7.20 entrance fee (10% discounted for my BBH card), which got me VIP treatment, I felt, from the other member of staff, a Russian, who gave me an intro and set some of the novelty clocks going so I could see the action. There’s a clock mender there, too, obviously to fix the exhibits but also taking on anything people bring him. He was German, too, making it feel like an enclave of the foreign. Perhaps Kiwis just can’t take the constant tick tock and cuckoo, cuckoo. This is not a place to come and be reminded of the current time. With over 1000 clocks from different eras and of different accuracy, it would be a nightmare to keep them in sync, let alone the cacophony that would ensue on each hour. Setting them to different times means you will hear hours marked in all sorts of different ways no matter what time you visit.

It’s small but perfectly formed, and some of the actions are mesmerising. I really liked the NZ Maori clock, a female figure twisting through 90 degrees every 20 seconds. Once she stopped, the chain hanging from her mace (probably something more peaceful, in fact) twisted round the pole at each corner in turn, untwisted and then a slight jerk made it twist round the other way. Archibald Clapham was ‘a character’, which you can take either way, an engineer who didn’t just collect clocks but also tinkered, mended and improved them. The clock face with Japanese movie stars replaced by photos of him and his wife now has eyes which move, creeping you out around the room, for instance. He was also a football player, who represented New Zealand.

A white statue with arm raised on a public green, Whangerai
Whangerai.

I caught the bus and was back in Auckland by three. Not before a stop at the tearooms, Nicki’s favourite part of the journey on the way up, for a dose of quaint. I had a bike to pick up, to save me a taxi ride to parkrun, and abandoned the idea of bus to hostel, dump stuff, bus back to town as two hours seemed a bit tight and stressy. After a short but uphill ride back I could chill out for the evening and book my flight home for April 4th.

Quote of the day: “the days go by so fast, I literally blink and it’s half past five” I think you’re blinking wrong.

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