Welcoming visitors to Wanganui is the Encounter Sculpture. The colourful and controversial former Mayor of Wanganui, Michael Laws, wanted visitors to his city to be greeted by the "best entranceway to any city in New Zealand". He could well be right, the Encounter Sculpture at the southern entranceway is beautiful. Designed by Mark Southcombe, standing seven metres high and weighing two tonnes, the sculpture is constructed from hollow tubular steel sections and perforated metal sheets, and lit up at night from within. Encounter is an abstract representation of the greeting that takes place when people meet. The figure on the right, represents the Putiki Maori and features the Takarangi Spiral in perforated metal. The figure on the left represents the visitors to the region and features the Wanganui city grid which was introduced by the European settlers.
Encounter sculpture at the entrance to Wanganui
Wanganui is a very pretty place to visit. There were a couple of places we went to check out which might prove suitable for somewhere to stay on future caravan visits. And a visit to the posh part of town, up St John’s Hill to Virginia Lake, is always worthwhile. The lake covers 4.5 hectares and holds 540 million litres of water. No wonder it is a magnet for all sorts of water fowl who live and breed here, and is a very popular walk around the fringes of the lake for locals and visitors alike.
We really felt we were getting up close and personal as we walked through the free flight bird aviary. Built largely as a volunteer project by the Wanganui Round Table organisation over a series of weekend working bees, the new aviary took several years to complete and was.finally ready for it’s new residents in 1979. Rotating mesh doors were designed and fitted at either end to keep the birds enclosed. The many breeding boxes throughout the aviary were full with birds proudly poking their heads out as they enjoyed a breath of fresh air while attending to egg sitting duties.
Birds in the walk through aviary
One of the bridges crossing the river is the Dublin Street Bridge, looking rather like pieces of a giant Meccano set. I love driving over interesting bridges, although it can be difficult to get a good shot from a moving car. Mr Google advises that this lovely old bridge is indeed very special, and will be celebrating it’s 100th birthday in November! The 310m-long bridge, which was designed by the Public Works Department and cost $75,000, took two and a half years to build and used 1000 tonnes of steel, 30 tonnes of rivets and 1800 yards of concrete. And is still going strong, although there is a weight limit these days.
The gale force winds show no sign of abating. If we are really lucky, they will blow themselves out overnight. We are heading home tomorrow, so a calm day will make towing the caravan so much easier.