Collection Highlight November 2021
11 November 2021
Planning summer holidays at home? Try time travel with the Macmillan Brown Library
This summer many of us will be staying on the Mainland for our holiday break, so a new display in the Macmillan Brown Library might offer some travel inspiration. It features collection items on the history of tourism in Te Waipounamu – The South Island, dating back over 120 years.
Booklets promoting Hanmer Hot Springs in 1900, advise tourists on the best travel options (“a five-hour train journey from Christchurch to Culverden, thence to Hanmer by coach”) and suggested activities for when you are not “taking the waters” (“Many cases of anaemia, obesity and constipation will benefit from a judicious course of hill-climbing, as is afforded by the slopes of Conical Hill.”) Photographs show a very barren Conical Hill c.1907, overlooking a Hanmer main street that just needs some passing tumbleweed to complete the ‘frontier town’ feel.
More recent, but equally quaint, are brochures produced in the 1960s by the South Island Promotion Association. Some try to entice North Island residents to come South, where they will find “the greenest forests, the most sunshine and the prettiest girls” (!) Others extol the delights of Ashburton (fishing) and Oamaru, where the white stone heritage precinct was obviously not a draw for 1960s visitors, as it gets barely a mention.
However the Akaroa Progress Association’s 1938 Akaroa Tourist Guide Book shows some things never change for visitors to “Canterbury’s Premier Seaside Resort.” An advertisement for the Hill Top Hotel (still a popular stop-off en route to Akaroa) proclaims the view of the Harbour as one of the best in the world, which still holds true today.
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