Having visited the Invercargill i-site for tips on our route ahead, we went for our usual morning sanity-giving coffee stop, during which I learnt the official definition of a long black, an americano, a latte and a flat white, and how come you can get large flat whites here (in the UK a flat white is a flat white and is relatively small, but here it can vary in size, while an americano here is a long black with extra hot water already added to a fixed size, whereas in the UK you can order different sizes of americano). Suitably refuelled, we took ourselves down the road to…the hardware store. Of course! Every tourist should drop into a hardware store… well this one is a bit different…
Welcome to ehayes hardware store. A museum interspersed with hardware. Well, more of a hardware shop interspersed with museum pieces. It was bizarre having such antiquated things interspersed with such new things, and having such extraordinary things interspersed with such mundane things. Like lawn mowers next to historic motorbikes. Or highly polished classic cars next to hiking socks. Or doormats next to the picture of Burt Munro with his bike. Weird!
For anyone who doesn’t know (I didn’t), Burt Munro is surely the most famous person to come from Invercargill. He became famous when he managed to adapt his 1920 Indian motorbike to win the landspeed title several times at Bonneville, Salt Flats, USA in the 1950s. (The World’s Fastest Indian is a 2005 film telling the Burt Munro story.) For those who understand such things, he managed to crank it up from 600cc to 1000cc.
The hardware store has a wall full of “Offerings to the God of speed”, displaying the many engine parts Munro created, tried and tested in the process of trying to make the thing faster. Then it has a stash of his tools and workshop stuff too.
At the height of his success, the bike was officially timed going 191.34mph, but it’s thought to have reached over 200mph. It weighs 93kg. Which is not all that much more than me. A salutary thought. There’s no way I’m gonna be breaking any land speed records, that’s for sure! 😂
Munro reportedly said, “You live more in five minutes flat out on a bike like this than most people do in a lifetime”.
We exited the store via a whole other section full of Christmas decorations, wall hangings, souvenirs and knick knacks of various kinds just after some classic cars and motorbikes. Well, it’s one way of funding a museum I guess. And of helping keep a hardware store going too. Here’s Tash with her favourite exhibits: