Patea, Hawera, Manaia & Stratford

Patea, Hawera, Manaia and Stratford are four little towns on the way to visit the volcano Taranaki; there’s no particular reason to stop in them or to photograph them, but hey, this is New Zealand. And each is mildly memorable for what happened there.

I stopped at the BP garage in Patea rather desperate for lunch at about 2.30pm on a Saturday. The garage’s stock of food – in fact of anything – was woefully thin, with the only thing remotely edible being a sausage roll sitting on its own in the heated cabinet. It turned out to be the worst sausage roll I’ve ever had, and I ended up throwing most of it out of the car window on my way out of town.

Notwithstanding the sausage roll, there’s a pleasant park building opposite the garage:

Patea Park Building

By the time I got to Hawera at 3.30pm on Saturday everything was closed; evidently Hawera follows the old British and Kiwi custom of closing on Saturday afternoons. In New Zealand, of course, this is so that the men can play rugby at 1.00 and then go home to milk the cows in the late afternoon, while the women do – well, whatever they do.

It would be easy to drive right through through Hawera, but diverting off a little to see the town centre it turned out to have a pleasant set of 1920s and 30s buildings basking in the afternoon sun. Success!

Manaia involves a slight diversion from the direct route, and in truth there’s nothing to see there; but if you’re in town-collecting mode it’s another on the list.  The only building worth photographing was the Old Post Office – and what a gem! – but the memorable thing about the town was that it’s dominated by a bakery business, Yarrows, who claim Manaia is the Home of Bread. There’s even an embarrassing bread-based welcome sign at the entrance to the town, but it’s so crappy that even I couldn’t face photographing it.

Manaia Post Office

Lastly, Stratford. Stratford is more than just a tiny town; it’s even something of a cultural, garden and holiday centre for those who want to visit Taranaki but can’t face the big city of New Plymouth. But so far all I have are two pleasant photographs of its Public Trust Office, taken in the late afternoon just after a stop at the local Subway. Best eat here while you have the chance, because there’s nowhere else anywhere near Taranaki to get even a bad sausage roll.

Stratford Public Trust Office
Stratford Public Trust Office (Detail)