When I mentioned a few posts back that Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser left his mark on Kawakawa, I wasn’t joking.
The quirkiness of his style is literally plastered all over the place.
There are even isolated tiles in the pavements and in walls…
Even a quick look around this small town will give you the idea that this guy’s influence has crept in almost everywhere!
The Café across the street, gift shops and a raft of other local businesses have all been given what I might loosely term the ’ Hundertwasser ‘ treatment, giving this small town a really special vibe.
I can clearly see that the residents fell as much in love with Hundertwasser ‘s style as he did with their town… a fitting memorial to a man who’s work brings tourists from afar and puts some needed tourist dollars into the small businesses of this little community.
Hundertwasser lived close to the town of Kawakawa for 25 years, at first for short stays, commuting back to Vienna regularly but as time progressed he started to spend more and more of his time at his New Zealand property preferring the small town community’s easy-going and relaxed attitude and privacy afforded to him and as a place where he could enjoy an anonymity that he didn’t receive as famous architect in Europe.
I’d love to come back here again one day… not just to get more photographs of Hundertwasser’s work around the town but also because we missed another very special item unique to this little town… the trains!
Kawakawa is the only town in New Zealand to have a train track running right down the main street!
Apparently this originated back in the days when Kawakawa was called “Irishtown” and was the centre of a booming coal mining industry and coal was transported to Opua on the coast.
After coal production ceased the line was used for other transport purposes until it was overtaken by other larger links to bigger deeper water ports.
For a while here was a vintage railway group using the line until 2000 when circumstances closed them down, but in 2006 a new Trust was formed and The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway now runs weekend steam train excursions though the town at weekends.
We looked for “Gabriel” the famed steam engine or “Frederick” the diesel engine but with no success. Yet another reason to try and come back here again: I’d love a train ride!
The Trust has a website and once you take a look at the video on the first page, I’m certain you’ll probably want one too! www.bayofislandsvintagerailway.org.nz