At work we meet various people, with some you start having a regular contact, and meet outside the working environment. It makes it easier when our children just click on the spot and become good buddies. Thanks that we were invited to visit and stay at their place in Invercargill for a weekend. It is less than two hours’ drive from where we live, so why not.
Few facts about Invercargill (from Wikipedia). It’s the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand, and one of the most southernmost cities in the world. It sits among rich farmlands that is boarded by large areas of conservation land and marine areas including Fiordland National Park. Population around 57 000 (in 2021) and is known as “City of Water and Light” (horizontal driving rain in high wind and summer twilights and Aurora Australis). The farmlands are amongst most fertile NZ areas. Along with Dunedin is the cloudiest city in NZ, and 2nd windiest city of NZ. Despite its cloudiness and frequent rains, it gets less yearly rainfall than Auckland or Wellington. From the people that lived there we found out that the roads in Invercargill are very wide.
We set off quite early, just so we can enjoy the day. While driving our eyes were cast on small settlement on the end of Wakatipu called Kingston. Can’t tell you why, but we stopped here for a little walk and immediately liked the place, felt some strange feeling of connection with the place. Can’t explain why, it’s just vibes that make you immediately like or dislike the place. Anyways, we carried on and after less than 2 hours we eventually arrived at Invercargill. Just before the city the mileage clock in our car reached 100 000km – not bad for a vehicle that old.
In our hosts house, we had a little tea, our daughters just closed themselves in the room, and were gone till the evening. We were told that later we’ll have a BBQ and will meet more Poles. Konrad didn’t want to wait till evening for something to do, so we started looking for some activities suitable for him. Apart from obvious such as beach or park, we were suggested a place we never heard before called Bill Richardson Transport World. Why not? Konrad likes vehicles, so we thought might as well see few cars, and make our son happy.
To be honest we didn’t know what to expect, but when checked the official website we were quite surprised. It’s the largest private vehicle collection in the world, it’s 15 000sqm area filled with hundreds of motor vehicles and petrol pumps. It contains large collection of VW Kombis, the most complete collection of Henry Ford Alphabet Letter Automobiles in the southern hemisphere (including famous
Ford T’s), selection of Ford V8’s from various years, Dodge Airflow Texaco Tanker (the only working tanker of its kind in the world, and one of three restored).
A wearable art collection, movie theatre, children’s play zones, largest display of retro McDonalds Happy Meal toys in NZ, themed bathrooms, interactive fun areas (including Invercargill first passenger bus, yellow Mini Cooper, Truck etc.), and more than 100 antique fuel pumps. A lot to see.
Konrad had his eyes opened and lightened up first thing he entered the display area. Honestly, you don’t know where to go and do first, so many vehicles. Konrad goes one way, I go the other, ladies didn’t look as impressed as we were. I was trying to take a photo of every single vehicle, but there were so many. A young child (Konrad) and older child (me) wanted to go inside every interactive vehicle that we were allowed to. Trust me, you feel like kid again. Every automobile cleaned and polished. Girls less interested with this kind of stuff, walked around much faster and hurried us up constantly, but it didn’t matter, us two children we were just enjoying ourselves. Girls spent more time in Lego playing area (we spotted few sets that Konrad has), and in movie theatre playing “The World Fastest Indian”. Really interesting place, and worthy to visit, no doubt.
Eventually it was time to leave the place and go for BBQ and meet others. Usual, the only difference was that I had to go out to the nearby playground with children, so they don’t get bored with adult talk. Interestingly, an occupant from nearby house got annoyed with children having fun and shouted at them few times. We just ignored it as I didn’t want to aggravate the situation. Anyways when everyone got tired it was time to go back to the house and at some point, go to bed.
In the morning after the breakfast, we decided to split company, our hosts and Mrs Sting went to the beach with the dog and went to the swimming pool with children. Funny enough Konrad wanted to visit Invercargill’s swimming pool back when we were living in Dunedin. He likes water slides and researched all facilities of its kind in whole New Zealand. What he found about Invercargill is quite interesting. It’s called Splash Palace, it’s one of the top public facilities in NZ, includes 50 x 8 lane sports with bulkhead, a leisure pool with waves, sprays and basketball hoop, spa pool, sauna, diving section in main pool and three water slides including New Zealand’s tallest indoor slide (101m).
The only issue I had was, that I was on my own with three strong character children, that wanted to do different things. Matylda wanted to go on the slides, our hosts daughter was interested with diving, and Konrad wanted to explore bit of everything, spending most of time on the waves and ‘’river’’ areas. I was trying to look at all three of them, but it was just impossible, especially while Matylda was using slides. Konrad for some reason absolutely refused to go on the slide, making whole thing more challenging. After almost three hours, I got too cold, so gathered the troops and just went back.
After the lunch and coffee, it was time for us to go back to Queenstown. Overall Invercargill trip was quite entertaining, and we quite enjoyed it. The drive back was long and tiring, as we drove slower than usual and taking it easy on more difficult part of the road such as Devil’s Staircase. We also rang my mum via Skype so she could watch some stunning views. We like being on the road, and amount of free time we have makes short trips somewhere a way to be, at least for some time.