See­ing is be­liev­ing

Wanaka's Na­tional Trans­port & Toy Mu­seum will de­light chil­dren of all ages

Go Travel New Zealand - - Wanaka -

This fas­ci­nat­ing mu­seum is one of the largest pri­vate col­lec­tions in the world with four ma­jor build­ings hous­ing over 600 ve­hi­cles, 16 air­craft and 60,000 plus toys and mis­cel­la­neous items. The Mu­seum is the re­sult of one man’s dream – Ger­ald Rhodes, who started col­lect­ing in the 1950s while work­ing as an ap­pren­tice for In­ter­na­tional Har­vester in Christchurch and later went on to es­tab­lish his own car and truck wreck­ing busi­ness, which fur­ther al­lowed him to be in the right places to pick up “bar­gains” for his col­lec­tion.

Mr Rhodes lived in Christchurch, but Wanaka was cho­sen as a lo­ca­tion for the col­lec­tion be­cause of the dry Cen­tral Otago cli­mate (no sea breeze and low hu­mid­ity) which helps pre­serve the ma­chin­ery. From choos­ing the site in 1988, the first build­ing did not start un­til Oc­to­ber 1994. Many ob­sta­cles had to be crossed, but with great tenac­ity, the Mu­seum started to take shape.

In 1995 the Sec­ond Build­ing “The Hangar” was built to look like the orig­i­nal hangars used in the 1940s with old hangar doors from Christchurch used to give the build­ing au­then­tic­ity. The Mu­seum opened to the pub­lic on 26th De­cem­ber 1995 mak­ing the dream a re­al­ity. In April 2004 a 1440m ² build­ing, “The Fire Sta­tion” was built and De­cem­ber 2005 saw a 2000 m ² build­ing “Hangar 2”.

Nes­tled on the out­skirts of Wanaka just be­side the Wanaka Air­port, this Mu­seum is a true trip down mem­ory lane with a huge va­ri­ety of ex­hibits that will keep vis­i­tors of all ages en­ter­tained. The mu­seum has a va­ri­ety of ex­hibits that has some­thing for the whole fam­ily. There are over 70,000 items on dis­play and new items are al­ways be­ing added. The Mu­seum has the largest num­ber of toys on pub­lic dis­play in New Zealand.

The trans­port col­lec­tion alone in­cludes vin­tage and clas­sic cars, fire en­gines, mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, trac­tors, trucks, mo­tor­bikes, heavy con­struc­tion equip­ment, buses, boats plus much more. Some items are ex­tremely rare, like the 1924 McLaugh­lin Buick and the 1915 Sun­beam Rover WW1 Am­bu­lance – the only ones left in the World.

Air­craft in­clude a Rus­sian Mig 21 and Antonov AN 2 Colt; an Amer­i­can Lock­heed Lodestar and an English Hunter Jet Provost T5a, an English Elec­tric Can­berra and a Fokker Friend­ship.

The toys are a child’s dream! There are 1,000’s of die cast mod­els, Mec­cano, dolls and teddy bears, tin, windup, clock­work and bat­tery pow­ered toys plus much, much more. Also on dis­play are over 500 Bar­bie Dolls and ac­ces­sories. The ever grow­ing Star Wars col­lec­tion must be seen to be be­lieved!

There are 1,000’s of mis­cel­la­neous items around ev­ery cor­ner, in­clud­ing type­writ­ers, hur­ri­cane lamps, sewing ma­chines, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments and kitchen uten­sils – all bring­ing back mem­o­ries of the past.

You can take a ride on the adult-size pedal cars around the grounds, clam­ber over var­i­ous guns such as WWII Bo­fors and a Chi­nese Anti-air­craft gun, and climb over a 52-tonne Centurion Tank. Chil­dren can en­joy the arcade rides, Lego bricks and toys and a nearby pic­nic and play­ground area fea­tures swings and play equip­ment, as well as pedal trac­tors and trucks.

How did he col­lect it all? Auc­tions, flea mar­kets, garage sales, news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and word of mouth. Since the Mu­seum has opened an­other av­enue has arisen – peo­ple com­ing through and find­ing the Na­tional Trans­port & Toy Mu­seum is the place they would like their col­lec­tion or ve­hi­cle to be, so are will­ing to sell or do­nate it to the Mu­seum.

Nearly all the toys have been pur­chased in New Zealand, mainly from the Christchurch/Can­ter­bury Re­gion. About 3% of the ve­hi­cles are from over­seas, 10% from the North Is­land and the rest from the South Is­land of New Zealand. The col­lec­tion has been fi­nanced by the owner and gate re­ceipts.

Ger­ald Rhodes died on the 13th of Au­gust 2015, after a long fight with Parkin­son’s. His son and daugh­ter, Ja­son and Deb­bie are still man­ag­ing the mu­seum. Ja­son started be­fore the first mu­seum build­ing be­gan and Deb­bie ar­rived just be­fore the mu­seum opened to the pub­lic.

Just about as fas­ci­nat­ing as the mu­seum col­lec­tion it­self is the toy and gift shop, which of­fers a wide se­lec­tion of toys, mod­els, gifts and light re­fresh­ments.

Sit­u­ated within the Mu­seum, the toy and gift shop stocks a huge se­lec­tion of col­lectable toys from cars to dolls, games and gifts. It stocks the worlds best brands such as Mec­cano, Siku, Bruder, Thomas the Tank En­gine, Syl­va­nia Fam­i­lies, First Gear, Corgi, Bar­bie, Mat­tel, Has­bro Selec­trix, Tamiya, Air­fix mod­els and many oth­ers. The shops of­fers ter­rific pric­ing and has an ex­tremely wide range of mod­els within each brand.

The Na­tional Trans­port & Toy Mu­seum is a real nos­tal­gia

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