Saturday, 12 January 2008


Near Greymouth is a cute little place called Shantytown. This old-style colonial village is reminiscent of the days when Huka Village was thriving, and even parts of Knott's Berry Farm. There was an old fashioned dispensary, hospital, chapel, jail, village pump, stables, railway station ... you get the picture.

I got to have my first ride on a real steam train. "Katie" was built in the late 19th century and chugged along a tiny railroad track in Shantytown. We wandered around the town and saw cute replicas of old town shops. There was heaps to read along the way and found out about the West Coast back in ye olden days, but the steadily-increasing rain made our meanderings a bit quicker than planned. There was a real-life wedding in the chapel.

Of course, there was a colonial classroom. What scared me was how similar it was to today's classrooms. Apart from the obvious cosmetic differences (slates, wooden forms, no computer, etc), the basic classroom set was exactly the same: students sitting facing the board, displays on the walls, aisles down the middle, and a very teacher-centred environment. (Sorry, I'm an educator and former teacher - these things strike me.)

At the end of my holiday, and after having traipsing from coast to coast of the mid-South Island, and on my way to work in Christchurch for a couple of weeks, I'm not really sure if I'm coming or going, so this sign sums it up nicely:

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