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Small-town New Zealand: Raetihi

JNL

Cyburbian
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Stopped at this town on my way home from Owhango on Sunday. It felt a bit like a ghost town with the only activity at the ‘Coach Caffé’ where travellers passing through stopped for lunch (pictured).

Raetihi, on the Central Plateau in the North Island of New Zealand, was founded in 1893 following the governments purchase of the Waimarino land block in 1887. Initially the only access to Raetihi from the sea at Wanganui was via steamer up to Pipiriki. 1917 saw he first road from Wanganui to Raetihi, also the railway. Raetihi just survived the Great Fire in 1918.

Timber and farming have always been the main business. The Whanganui River was already a main tourist attraction in the early 1900s, drawing 20 000 tourists a year.

The sale of surveyed town lot sections began in 1892 but the settlement was slow because of the difficulty of access - up the Whanganui River by steamer to Pipiriki, then by a dray road. Most of the surrounding land was taken up by small lot farmers under the government policy. As roading and communications improved and areas of bush were cleared, more land was broken up for pasturing and the populations of the township and district increased. Raetihi was created a town district in 1913 and became a borough in 1921.

Raetihi (rae - headland, tihi - summit) literally means prominent summit (as seen from Ohakune).

Today, Raetihi is a town of mainly farming, gardening and forestry, with a population of around 1,000.

Raetihi’s Theatre Royal is said to be the oldest theatre in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Zoning Goddess

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Some of the downtown buildings look abandoned; is there a Wal-Mart in the vicinity? ;)

Thanks for posting the pics. I always enjoy seeing places that other Cyburbians have visited.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Sorry to hi-jack...

Zoning Goddess said:
Some of the downtown buildings look abandoned; is there a Wal-Mart in the vicinity? ;)
Sam's law in only three replys. A new record? ;-):)
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
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Interesting. Looks like most any small town in Montana or the rest. Judging from previous posts, looks like a lot of towns in the U.S.A. Perhaps it is something in those Anglo Saxon genes.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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It really does look like a rural US Midwest or Canadian Great Plains town; the wide streets and single story buildings are some chared characteristics. Looking at the canopies (verandas?) extending over the sidewalk, though, it screams Australia. Are the verandas a feature of pre-WWII New Zealand main streets too?
 

Lee Nellis

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Actually I think I grew up there. No, not quite the right set of buildings and no hill in the background. But it could be just a little farther west in rural Kansas. The same dynamics are at work in rural places everywhere. I suspect, however, that NZ is also like the rural US in having a number of smal towns that are growing due to their locational attributes.
 

JNL

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DoD - it sure does snow! Raetihi is very close to Mount Ruapehu which has 2 large ski-fields that are very popular in winter. I was lucky enough to do a free scenic flight over Mts Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruhoe (which featured as Mt Doom in LOTR) at the weekend - I have heaps of pics of the mountain tops, craters, and lakes that I tried to upload but the gallery seems to be working very slowly at the moment. Even now, in the middle of summer, there was a bit of snow on the mountain tops. Oh yeah, did I mention Ruapehu is an active volcano?? Last major eruption in 1996. The Central Plateau is the main area that gets snow in the North Island but the South Island has several mountain ranges and lots of snow in winter.

It doesn't snow where I live and the temperature doesn't often go below 0C (overnight) in winter.

Climate info from www.purenz.com:

"The north of New Zealand is subtropical and the south temperate. The warmest months are December, January and February, and the coldest June, July and August.

In summer, the average maximum temperature ranges between 20-30ºC and in winter between 10-15ºC.

The highest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was 42°C, in Marlborough, Christchurch, and Rangiora (in Canterbury). The lowest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was —22°C at Ophir, Central Otago. "

Dan - yes verandas are a common feature. I was fascinated by the detail of the underside of the veranda in the last photo - kind of like ornate ceiling detail. Never seen that before.

and Lee - yes some small towns are growing, but this one seems to be dying. Several of the main street buildings were abandoned and the population is dropping.

I've got pics of some other small towns that are thriving, which I will try to post soon.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,080
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It really could be in eastern Montana or the Dakotas. The covered sidewalks are quite common off the interstate Many more communities once had them, only removing them when they "modernized."

You mentioned Mt. Doom (now Ngaruhoe). Are there any ruins or archeological sites from Middle Earth left in New Zealand?
 

JNL

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Cardinal - if you go to www.purenz.com and click on the LOTR banner you can check out different parts of NZ involved in the filming, with some comment on what's left. There are some pretty cool photos on there, including my city Wellington! It has sound BTW.
 

Rem

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JNL said:
Dan - yes verandas are a common feature. I was fascinated by the detail of the underside of the veranda in the last photo - kind of like ornate ceiling detail. Never seen that before.
I'm pretty sure it's pressed metal (tin) - also commonly used in Australia. It is not so easy to find well preserved remnants. Good pick up by Dan though - I was thinking the same thing.
 
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