Technology attractions of New Zealand - back

Many New Zealand technology developments are now fascinating visitor attractions. Unusual railway engineering, examples of steam power, hydro electric schemes and transport museums all hold interest for the technically minded visitor.

You can see gold mining relics and bush tramways from the era of forest exploitation. Early engineering works were geared to supplying farmers' needs and a plethora of museums contains farm machinery highlighting farming's economic importance.

An initial reliance on coastal shipping for which lighthouses were important gave way to railways that required significant engineering feats before they could surmount the country's rivers and hills. Notable examples are the Lyttelton Rail Tunnel, the Raurimu spiral on the North Island Main Trunk line (NIMT) and several impressive viaducts.

Rail Heritage

Our rail heritage is celebrated though the "Rail Heritage Trail", which includes a number of railways with working steam locomotives, scenic railway trips, bush railways, heritage railway stations now serving as bed and breakfasts or restaurants, and railway routes now used for walking and cycling. One museum preserves a unique Fell locomotive, originally used on a steep triple-rail mountain route, another preserves memories of a very steep gravity-powered system regarded by locals as one of the world's wonders.

Tunnels and bridges, not always built for the railways, are a significant part of the industrial heritage and many of them now form a part of walkways.

Steam power is celebrated in several museums devoted to stationary engines - often rescued from their role as prime movers for refrigeration plant in the meat industry.

Several locations pay homage to Richard Pearse, whose pioneer flying efforts virtually paralleled those of the Wright Brothers.

Hydro Electricity

Hydro power has always been important for electricity production. The first State-built schemes, at Lake Coleridge in the South Island and Mangahao in the North, although now 80 years old, are hardly museum pieces, both being still in production. By visiting the underground power station at Manapouri a technology DayOut can be combined with a scenic trip. Another scenic trip is associated with the Upper Waitaki scheme. The development of this scheme as with that at Manapouri followed their initial identification by P S Hay in 1903.

Visitor Centres at Marsden Point Refinery in Northland and at Oaonui and Motunui in Taranaki provide insights into oil and gas projects that took billions of dollars to build. Also in Taranaki at Hawera, one of the world's biggest dairy factories has an involving display to tell you about the industry.

And then there are several motor museums. In Nelson, one has recently been opened in conjunction with that city's collection of Wearable Art, while near Paraparaumu a well-established museum contains cars whose past owners are as interesting as their engineering.

Last but not least there are science museums with educational intent in Hamilton and Christchurch, while Discovery World at the Otago Museum in Dunedin is of universal interest.

Many museums have a technical focus so we recommend you include these in your DayOut search if you are interested in technology.

Panning for Gold

In the South Island there are a number of places where you can have a Day Out fossicking for gold using a goldpan without needing to hold a license. We have labelled these as Technology sites but in addition many of them are good picnic places, offer walks and can be used as camping grounds.

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