"And of course we all time travel, so there we go."

An unconventional way to end a conversation, yes, but at first glance, it appears Cat Connolly might be on to something.

She and her three friends standing in front of me are all dressed from head-to-toe in steampunk attire – decorated top hats, parasols, a dress made of ties, gold medallions and brass jewellery, futuristic goggles and a black veil.

Behind us, men are fighting with weapons in a roped off arena as spectators watch on.

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You can hear wood being sawed and old folk-sounding music being played.

It is 2019 and we are in central Tauranga, but at the Time-Travelling Makers and Medieval Faire, you could be anywhere, at any time.

"I think it's educational for everybody and it's bringing different cultures and different aspects of historical stuff together, with the fantasy as well," Connolly, from Paeroa, says.

"We do travel from time to time. We go backwards and forwards and it's just wonderful."

(l-r) Cat Connolly, Bill Herbert and Jacqui Barrow in their steampunk attire. Photo / Andrew Warner
(l-r) Cat Connolly, Bill Herbert and Jacqui Barrow in their steampunk attire. Photo / Andrew Warner

Not far away I meet Mark Brooke, 58, from Auckland – and another time period.

He is a member of the New Zealand Norsemen, he tells me.

Brooke has long hair and a ginger white-grey beard, which is tied up in a ponytail. He is shirtless and is holding a sword.

He says he is busy building shields at the moment and, later on, will hopefully find time to face off in combat.

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The Time-Travelling Makers and Medieval Faire is an opportunity to practice your hobby and take part in heritage activities, Brooke says.

"And we just like fighting," he adds with a smile.

"It's great when the kids turn up, they're all in costume – it's like a village. Otherwise, it's just like a bunch of old farts having sword fights."

Nearby, Mark Horst, 49, from Athenree, generously poses for a photo in front of a large, teeth-baring dragon.

His steampunk outfit is incredibly detailed and eccentric and he says it is made from 100 per cent up-cycled junk.

This is all taking place at Southey Field, which has been transformed into some kind of
medieval, sci-fi, fantasy marketplace and village square, drawing creative visitors from all around.

Mark Horst, in a steampunk outfit made from up-cycled junk. Photo / Andrew Warner
Mark Horst, in a steampunk outfit made from up-cycled junk. Photo / Andrew Warner

There is archery on display and different combat demonstrations, as well as stalls featuring an array of ancient handcrafted products, like clay pipes, traditional besom brooms, pottery and chain mail.

People can browse and buy, watch items being made, or have a go themselves.

Music and dance is also promised and there is food to be eaten and drink to be drunk.

"I think it's about people wanting to do something that's different from the normal run-of things that people do today," Richard Lees, one of the organisers of the faire, says.

Andria Goodliffe, another organiser, says the faire has something for everybody. It is diverse.

She says any member of the public can walk around the stalls, have a go at different crafts and activities and maybe find a life-long passion.

"Somebody who is coming here as a 10-year-old, 50 years down the track may be here or at such an event as an experienced craftsperson."

So, when was this Time-Travelling Makers and Medieval Faire, you ask?

I thought it was on January 19 and 20, 2019. But now, I'm not so sure.