It’s a high street hardware and homeware store – yet so much more than that. Yes, you can buy cake tins and lawnmowers and screws, and the friendly staff will be happy to advise you on your latest DIY project, but there’s another dimension to this shop in Invercargill’s Dee St.
Among many other useful items, Ernest Hayes invented the fencing wire strainer we’re all familiar with, and his sons inherited his practical skills. The family store was founded in 1932, and it was a natural extension from selling tools and equipment to including displays of vintage machinery, including Ernest’s inventions, as well as a variety of vehicles – most notably motorbikes once belonging to Burt Munro. The undoubted star of the collection is the 1967 World Record-breaking Indian itself.
Because who could resist a selfie sitting in the World’s Fastest Indian? The real, original motorbike is inside a glass case, but there’s a replica of the cowling, a prop used in the movie, that you can wriggle into to imagine you’re roaring across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats at 184mph (296km), a record that still stands today.
There’s plenty of information about Munro’s achievements and other items of his on display, including a case full of home-made pistons labelled ‘‘Offerings to the God of Speed’’.
Scattered around the shop, between the shelves of saucepans, spanners, tents and T-shirts, gifts and gumboots, are many classic and vintage cars and vans, with their seductive curves and shiny chrome, as well as lots of newer motorbikes and cars, built for racing.
Be sure to give the cases of tools a good look too, especially the specialty hammers: for awkward places, ceilings, round corners, the reversible, and the elegant twin strike hammer. You’ll enjoy inspecting the ‘‘E Hayes Special Fasteners’’ designed for ‘‘holes drilled crooked’’ or ‘‘predrilled holes that still don’t match’’.
If it’s a chilly day (because, Southland... ) you can help yourself to a complimentary hot drink from the refreshment station, where you’ll also find an interesting brochure about the company and its collection.
On the way/nearby
If you have the taste for old motorbikes, visit Motorcycle Mecca in nearby Tay St: a beautiful art deco building with two floors of classic motorbikes, from a 1902 Peugeot motorcycle to a 21st-century Simms Corbin Custom. There are threewheelers, Vespas, Harleys and more including, proudly, a big display of John Britten motorbikes and a priceless motorcycle art collection.
There’s also Transport World’s cars, trucks, Kombis, and domestic machinery – and if you want to get hands-on, they’ll let you drive a giant digger at their Dig This operation. You can even smash up a car!
The E Hayes collection is totally free. No purchase necessary.
Best time to go
Any time during normal shop hours, seven days a week.
E Hayes and Sons was founded in 1932.
The star of the collection is the 1967 World Record-breaking Indian itself.