The northernmost town on the South Island, Collingwood is a lovely spot home to around 300 people. It is best known as the gateway to Farewell Spit but there are a few things in the town itself of interest.
Firstly it’s location at the mouth of the Aorere river, with beautiful views across toward Kahurangi National Park.
Dawn was a good time to return for the first light of the day.
The town was named after Lord Nelson’s second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar, a companion to Nelson, the now much larger city down the coast. Though dating from the mid 18th century there are few heritage buildings remaining, after a series of major fires wiped out the town numerous times. Gold in the valley was the original attraction but soon ran out.
The oldest remaining building is St Cuthbert’s Church, dating from the late 19th century. It was designed by Thomas Brunner, one of New Zealand’s best known early explorers.
The Old Courthouse was built in 1901 and used as a Courthouse till the 1930s. It’s now a popular café.
The Post Office was completed in 1906 after the devastating 1904 fire. It closed as a functioning post office in 1988 and has had various uses since.
There were a few murals on the sides of buildings along the main street which only takes a couple of minutes to walk down.
One street back from the main street is the beach.
Near the church are a collection of war memorials, relocated to bring them together in one place. Alongside the main WW1 memorial in the middle is a memorial to Captain Harry Bolton Riley (on the left), who was killed in action 1916, and a memorial to Private Ralph Vincent James (on the right), who was killed in 1900 during the South African (Boer) War.
The historic Collingwood Cemetery was an atmospheric place reached by road or a walking track from the town.
The Collingwood Museum was established in 1969 in the former 1910 council office building. It had the usual collection of items, neatly presented in a series of displays behind glass.
The neighbouring Aorere Centre provided more detail of the history of the area, including gold, shipwrecks, town fires, and lighthouses.