The Beaver or Beavertown is a noteworthy feature in Marlborough’s Brayshaw Heritage Park. It’s a replica village constructed in 1960, way back when the idea of historical collections in a heritage park first came to be. The founder of the heritage park is Norman Brayshaw. The people behind its construction are members and volunteers of a group incorporated in 1955, the Marlborough Historical Society.

It’s a sight to behold, especially for history buffs. Not known to many is that it’s the location of the Battle of Blenheim where troops (including those led by John Churchill) defeated French forces. By spending an hour or two in the replica village, history buffs can take a trip down memory lane.

The people who pushed for Beavertown’s construction are history buffs themselves. From their perspective, it’s essential to show the original or untampered history of a place, which is why they intended to show the ins and outs of Blenheim “as they are” and not influence an audience’s understanding of it. This is one reason why they decided to construct a replica village, so people can have a firsthand experience of the history of Blenheim, instead of merely providing descriptions of it in books.

What gives Beavertown a notable significance is its accuracy. Like other replicas of villages in New Zealand, it does a magnificent job of replicating the street scene that shows the life in the town of Blenheim back in the 1900s. Commercial buildings, shoe shops, hotels, and other establishments are precisely where they’re supposed to be. Anyone who wishes to experience what life was like in the old days is invited to check Beavertown.

Beavertown is also where one will find working stables. And in there are beautiful horses, considered a significant attraction of the town. Because one of the first arrivals, a Canadian adventurer who went to meet friends, got to the destination on horseback, horses and horseback riding are meaningful to Blenheim and Marlborough’s history. To keep up with the times, new elements are regularly added to the replica village. Lately, in 2020, visitors will catch Stuart the Horse in action, making the children smile with his usual tricks.

It also gives a nod to the historical role of Blenheim in New Zealand by its use of the word “beaver”. Known to many, a beaver is the town’s official mascot, which stays true even though an actual beaver was never seen. Residents use the word as a reference to Marlborough’s tendency to flood and a way of acknowledging how beavers, in general, play a pivotal role in preventing floods from damaging homes. Sometimes, the term “Beavertown” is confused with the early nicknames of Blenheim, such as “Beaverton” and “Beaver Station”.

Wine Exhibition at the Marlborough Museum

The Marlborough Museum is one of the significant draws of Brayshaw Heritage Park, and among the features of the museum is the Wine Exhibition. It’s an exhibition that even the locals, the people who already know about wine and the suburb’s history with it, enjoy going to. In Australasia, it’s also recognised as the best in its category.

The Wine Exhibition shows everything essential about wine and its beginnings. This includes the colourful history of wine and viticulture in Marlborough. A significant idea of the exhibition’s design is to provide a meaningful and easily understandable view of wine to general audiences. If they initially didn’t have an interest in wine, they can expect their minds to change after their visit.

Because it’s an informative exhibition, it’s also a must-see for sommeliers, wine writers, distributors, trade visitors, and everyone who wishes to add to their concept of wine and how Marlborough’s wine heritage relates to the present. The exhibition is also ideal for tourists, immigrants, travel writers, and families who want a quick break from reality. Especially if these visitors signed up for a winery tour, a stop at the museum to see the exhibition will make them look forward to their time even more.

The exhibition includes a collection of wine types most people see every day and those they don’t see very often. It also has a wine showcase exclusive to Marlborough. There’s a wine on display for all connoisseurs, from old and iconic wines to the rare types. It also shows winemaking equipment, interesting viticulture, interactive displays, and educational resources to make the exhibition enjoyable.

Additionally, to emphasise the historical significance of wine in Marlborough, the exhibition shows historical masterpieces. They’re meant to depict the importance of wine in Marlborough and its pivotal role in the suburb’s festivities. These exhibits include oral histories, stories, photos, and wine brand histories. Visitors can also walk away with classy memorabilia.

Behind the Wine Exhibition are scientists, viticulture experts, and other professionals from Marlborough research centres. The curator, designer, and project manager are renowned specialists employed to produce high-quality work. Any day, visitors can drop by and check it out. As a permanent museum feature, one can view the displays all year-’round.

Classic Cars and Vintage Farming Machinery

For the mechanical enthusiasts in the family, Marlborough’s Farming Museum in Brayshaw Heritage Park is worth checking out. The exhibition includes an impressive display of classic crawlers and wheel tractors that operated around Marlborough back in the day. Very rare machinery such as the Blackstone oil engine that Andrews and Beaven in Christchurch built is part of the display, too.

There, visitors will also see attractions other than machinery. They’ll discover furnished and locally restored cottages from the 1880s and a blacksmith’s shop. These additions may not be as interesting as the vintage machinery. However, these displays add relevance to the museum by allowing people to see where cars were created and sometimes stationed.

Additionally, a local engineering group, known as the manufacturer of “Marlborough cars”, pitched in. It knows an item from the group would draw people to the museum even more. So to wow audiences, it put a large stationary engine on display. And as expected, this stationary engine is favoured by many visitors to the museum.

Another sight that many visitors enjoy is the McLaren Steam Roller. Some people’s sole intention of dropping by the museum is to catch a glimpse of the Steam Roller. In its “untouched” state, it’s a glorious sight already. However, to make the machinery more appealing to the younger crowd, it underwent a complete restoration.

It also honours the persistence of Brayshaw Heritage Park’s founder, Norman Brayshaw, in collecting and documenting the agricultural history of Marlborough and the suburb’s admiration for classic cars. Like every other machinery club in New Zealand, its goal, aside from showing exciting items, is also the restoration of vintage machinery.

Marlborough Associated Modellers Society

MAMS or the Marlborough Associated Modellers Society is a non-profit group. Its mission is to inform the visitors and the locals of Marlborough about the town’s transport systems. Thus, its members are in charge of the creation and operation of transport systems, including boats, trains, and model aircraft in Marlborough.

The society is stationed at the Club Base in Brayshaw Heritage Park. It’s known for hosting a fair that shows a model boat and clubrooms near a pond. It also manages the operation of a miniature railway, something children look forward to seeing.</p>

The society’s model airfield is near Tuamarina. There, the members fly the model aircraft regularly. Usually, the flights are scheduled twice a month, every first and third Sunday.

Anyone can join MAMS as long as these aspirants are interested in the society’s mission. Different membership plans are distributed to accommodate the types of people who want to join the club. These memberships include Ordinary, Country, Junior, Family, and Engineering memberships. To kick things off, they can tag along to see the members in action. It’s an ideal time to get acquainted with the ones in charge, too.

Marlborough Guild of Woodworkers

At a renowned gallery in Brayshaw Heritage Park, visitors can see the Marlborough Guild of Woodworkers and its members’ best woodwork. The display demonstrates impressive work, with the pieces using both traditional and modern woodwork techniques. Most of its members consider the guild home, where they developed and mastered their woodworking skills since they took up the craft.

The members are open to disclosing the hours they invest in creating their masterpieces. It’s a way for them to show proof of their dedication to woodworking. To them, woodworking is not for the faint of heart, and their works are strategically created. Anybody who views their masterpieces can also see the result of the personal resources they invested in them.

One notable member is the Marlborough Guild of Woodworkers’ former president, Edward Guard. During an exhibition, he featured one masterpiece, a portrayal of The Last Supper, that took him over 400 hours to finalise using the intarsia woodwork technique. He shares that it’s his favourite work, and he put in about half an hour of his time to create and place each piece of the 800-piece artwork.

Marlborough Heritage Day

Each year, on the 6 February, Marlborough Heritage Day is celebrated at Brayshaw Heritage Park. This day is when everybody of all ages comes together to honour and celebrate the colourful heritage of the suburb of Marlborough in Auckland. The Bleinheim Riverside Railway from Brayshaw Park, Omaka Museum, and Bleinheim CBD is scheduled to run all day.

A demonstration of traditional heritage skills such as farming, blacksmithing, and woodworking are among the top reasons people go to the venue and attend the commemorative event. It’s also an excellent place to see other skill demonstrations such as bailing, chaff cutting, and embroidering (via the Marlborough Embroiderers Guild).

Other sights during Marlborough Heritage Day include:

  • Vintage vehicle display
  • Steam engines
  • Model boats
  • Stamp collections
  • Bouncy castles
  • Nana’s Creme Freeze
  • Devonshire meals (teas and lunches)
  • Thomas the Tractor
  • Mini train rides
  • Clydesdale horses

Competitions and grand parades are also added to the roster to make this day more memorable. The parade of farm machinery is a classic. It’s a way of acknowledging farming as an essential skill for the people of Marlborough.

Children are also filled with excitement during this day. They look forward to the contests where they receive loads of freebies, too. One such contest is the children’s passport activity, where children can register and win a Warehouse voucher.

To make this day complete, free entrance to the Marlborough Museum is also part of the deal. With the free ticket, everybody can learn more about Marlborough history and culture.

Heritage Tours

At Brayshaw Heritage Park, visitors can also join heritage tours. They can meet at the park and be guided to check out unique places in New Zealand. It’s an ideal opportunity for them to find out the best attraction a place has to offer.

One such heritage tour is a tour of Kaikoura, a northern district in Canterbury, New Zealand. Kaikoura is a place that boasts of natural wonders. There, visitors can experience whale-watching, kayaking, and llama trekking. Must-see attractions include Hapuku Lodge, The Pier Hotel and Restaurant, and Black Rabbit Pizza. If a place that offers delights in land and sea is what they want, the destination is Kaikoura.

Another heritage trip worth signing up for is a tour of Lower Wairau and the Wairau River. As the location of the earliest settlements in New Zealand, the history of Wairau’s lower region is vibrant. And as one of New Zealand’s longest rivers that flows for 110 miles in inland Marlborough, the Wairau River is a majestic sight. The tour will provide an introduction to the river and show people its lower reaches. It’ll also talk about the surrounding fertile plain and its pivotal role in Marlborough’s wine region.