A stone's throw away from Te Awamutu is the village of Kihikihi and, although it is small, there are plenty of unique things to see and do there.
Visitors can enjoy second-hand shopping, award-winning pies, learn about astronomy or the village's heritage.
A great way to see what Kihikihi has to offer is by getting involved in this weekend's community-led event - the Kihikihi Summer Stroll - which will take participants through a heritage trail of the village.
Kihikihi Summer Stroll
Starting at the historical Kihikihi Police House, participants will be given a pamphlet guide and map before setting off on their self-guided heritage walk. The event is an initiative of the Te Awamutu Community Board, the Kihikihi Police House, the Temple Cottage Trust and the Maori Women's Welfare League. At the end of the day, Hamilton ukulele band The Cossie Ukes will be entertaining from the Temple Cottage. The event runs from 1pm to 3pm.
Police House and Temple Cottage
Kihikihi is home to the only police house still on its original site and in public ownership in the country. It combines the constables' dwelling, the police station, the ablution building and the jailhouse and they are all located at Ratatu Reserve. Inside the restored buildings are artefacts, games, old books, costumes, an organ and old film that has been digitised. The Kihikihi Police House volunteers often host morning teas for visitors who are treated to a silver tea service using fine china, school groups often visit too and enjoy tours through the jail-house and making butter from scratch by shaking cream in a jar.
"It's a really important place to see in Kihikihi. It's a place where people of an era can revive memories," says Kihikihi resident Angela Brown.
Kihikihi is also home to a unique space centre, which may come as a surprise to many. The Te Awamutu Space Centre is run by Dave Owen, also known as Space Dave, and the place is filled with information displays about space and astronomy, space-related artifacts and memorabilia, interactive displays, games, toys and puzzles, virtual reality experiences and telescopes including a daytime solar telescope. Bookings need to be made to visit the space centre; this can be done at spacecentre.nz. The prices are $12 for an adult, $8 for children and infants are free.
Those after a bit of action can find it at the McDonald's Kihikihi Speedway. Competitors and avid speedway fans have been converging at the track for over 65 years and it is home to 1NZK Stockcar Ben Ellis and 1NZK Superstock Asher Rees. This Saturday the King Country Saloon Champs are on featuring stockcars, six shooters, saloons, ministocks and demolition derby. Gates open at 3pm, racing starts at 5pm and admission prices range from $10 to $40.
If there's one thing you're going to go to Kihikihi for, make it Viands Bakery. Here the locals will tell you that the bakery has the best pies in New Zealand, and the bakery does have three New Zealand Bakels Supreme Pie Awards. It is a family-run bakery, the current owners, John and Lynda Atwell, are fifth-generation bakers and John's grandmother is believed to be the first female baker in the country. As well as pies you can grab slices, pastries, doughnuts, cakes, buns and breads. It is located at the far end of the main street, 80 Lyon Street – you can't miss it!
Kihikihi is a second-hand shopper's dream. The main street, Lyon St, has a number of second-hand clothing stores and a second-hand bookstore filled to the brim with books of all sorts. There is also a butcher, a post office, a car-sales yard, a couple of dairies and convenience stores, the Bakehouse café, fish and chip shops and Chinese takeaways.
There are a number of historical sites and buildings throughout Kihikihi. These include the Kihikihi War Memorial Hall, the Rewi Maniapoto Memorial, the Ratau Hill Redoubt and Orakau Battle site. In the 1830s Kihikihi was a village for Ngāti Maniapoto, after the battle of Orakau in 1864 the Ratatu Hill Redoubt was built for the Armed Constabulary and in 1875 Kihikihi was sub-divided into 400 one-acre lots for the soldier settlement. Today it is home to over 1500 people.