During our time in New Zealand we’ve come across a few local inventions and ideas that are worth mentioning.
The jet boat is a local invention and a clever one at that. When up to speed they can slide through water as shallow as only 8cm. As we found when we got marooned on the Dart River, they can only do that when up to speed; starting them in water even thigh-deep just won’t work.
Then there’s the ‘sushi of the south’ – the cheese roll. Neither name really does this culinary innovation justice. Take a piece of white bread, add butter and cheese. Fold into a roll and toast. No more needs to be said.
We stopped in at the Hayes Engineering Works while on the Otago Trail. The works are a delight, looking just as if they were abandoned in the 1930s. The Hayes family came up with a series of inventions but they are really known for the World-famous Hayes Wire Strainer. It must be World-famous in circles other than that in which we move, because I’m afraid we hadn’t heard of it before our visit. As we rode up, we tried to work out what a wire strainer was. One of those things you squeeze tea-bags with? A way of trapping large objects in drains? In fact it turns out to be a little ratchet used to keep tension on fence-wires.
And then there the gold mining submarine we saw in Middlemarch at the end of the Rail Trail. The Platypus was built in the 1870s to work the bottom of rivers and mine for gold. The idea was that a crew of three miners would descend in the boat to the riverbed, there they would open a hatch and get to work with their shovels mining the river-gravel for gold. Sadly the company that owned the Platypus went bankrupt after a single, rather unsuccessful, trial run. The submarine was cut into three parts one of which, in a somewhat ironic reversal, spent the following decades as a water tank. It now sits beside the little museum in Middlemarch, mute testimony to New Zealand innovation (although the idea was an Australian’s).