Putaruru Timber Museum
State Highway One, Putaruru, New Zealand
www.putarurutimbermuseum@xtr… - (07) 883 7621
Putaruru Timber Museum Reviews
History of a timber town Mar 23, 2009
The Putaruru Timber Museum has always been a serious drawcard for the South Waikato District as the forest industry is a mainstay of the area. There are a few things worth seeing here but I must admit I had never visited the site as a tourist. I had been here only once, several years ago for a meeting in the conference room.
When my friend Agnes stayed with me this month I suggested we make our way North from Tokoroa and enjoy lunch at the PTM's on site cafe (Sawmill Cafe) and then take a wander about the exhibits. She was keen.
Lunch was pretty nice out on the verandah in the sun. It was a warm day and we were an hour or two later than most would have their lunch but the cafe still had food and were happy to see us.
Nothing in the disply cabinets took our fancy but something hot from the menu did. We both ordered the Chicken Burger and to drink, an Iced Coffee for me and some good old fashioned L&P for Agnes, who's now living in Aussie and Lemon & Paeroa is created right there in the NZ town of Paeroa (but we're talking about Putaruru, right?!).
After our lunch in the sun we headed into the Museum entrance where they have a variety of artworks by local people for sale; timber objects, paintings, toys etc.
Unless you are a local rates-paying resident, the entry price is $8 for an adult.
The displays are arranged in a circular fashion and the path leads you easily from one area to the next as you loosely follow the log from tree to saw and then to truck.
Manys of the displays are set up in original mill buildings that have been relocated to the site and are filled with historical documents and photographs detailing the history of the New Zealand forest industry with which the South Waikato District is so closely linked.
We both found the history interesting but kept moving as there was plenty to see.
The path twisted around huge pylons and shoots that would have once moved logs into position for sawing. Massive saws hung silently in place at the head of chain conveyors that were gradually being bettered by rust.
Agnes rightly observed that our fathers generation didn't have it too easy. This area is cold during winter and these machines would have been noisy, hard to maintain and dangerous to operate!
...and then we entered the sawmill room where planks and usable cuts were made. The walls were filled with a variety of hand saws but we liked to big ol' chainsaws.
I didn't try to pick one up but only because I didn't think I was allowed. It had nothing to do with the fact that none of the collection were made of nice, light plastic like the chainsaws I'm used to weilding. These things were all very solid, with lots of handles and seemed to have their engines on the outside rather than hidden nicely away behind a smooth protective skin.
Next was the workshop filled with a truck and trailer and a bull dozer. These machines reminded me of our other childhood friend, whose father ran the Kinleith garage.
Kinleith is the largest mill of the New Zealand Forest Products Company but that company has long since sold it's might.
When Agnes and I lived under our father's roofs, those houses were built and owned by the company and the whole of Tokoroa revolved around Kinleith. Over 2000 people were employed by the company in the 70's but now there is just a fraction of the workforce on site and the site itself is more of a ghost town.
From these forestry exhibits we moved to a few random cottages and outbuildings. An early settler's house, a police cell, a cook house, and a church. This is available for weddings if desired and the grounds can then be enjoyed by those attending.
There are also several items of interest scattered about the museum grounds.
All in all we spent 2-3 hours at the Putaruru Timber Museum. It was worth seeing.
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