No boring old museum this. Nigel Ogle's labor of love is an outstanding presentation of regional history. The former schoolteacher-cum-historian bought an old cheese factory in 1975 and proceeded to fill it with life-size figures from Taranaki's past. He creates the fiberglass figures from molds of local people and sets them in scenes depicting the pioneering days. Nigel is continually adding "stories"; dioramas depict the huge intertribal wars of the 1830s and European–Māori land wars of the 1860s. More than 800 model warriors, none of them the same, have been created. Separate from the main museum is the amazing "Traders and Whalers," where you glide by lantern light on a boat through an eerie world of traders and whalers and witness their first encounters with Māori tribes. On the first Sunday of every month and Sundays during school holidays the Tawhiti Bush Railway springs to life, rattling through a variety of outdoor displays that highlight historical logging operations in Taranaki. Also in the museum is Mr. Badger's Café, with its Wind in the Willows theme, and quaint gift shop. To get to the museum, take Tawhiti Road northeast out of Hawera and continue 4 km (2½ miles).
401 Ohangai Rd., Hawera, 4672, New Zealand