30 June 2014

The Road That Wasn't There: Our Top Five New Zealand Mysteries


Trick of the Light Theatre are hitting the Circa 2 stage 8-19 July with the return of our award winning play The Road That Wasn’t There. A dark New Zealand fairytale in the vein of Neil Gaiman and Pan’s Labyrinth, it tells a story about a girl who followed a map off the edge of the world. The play weaves together various folklore and legends from New Zealand’s history, and in this spirit, we bring to you our top five mysteries and curious places in Aotearoa New Zealand. Read on if you dare…

5. St Bathans – Central Otago.
Chapter One - The town by the upside down hill…

Once a booming township that was built in the height of gold rush, St Bathans is now home to a population of just seven… as well as its various ghosts. The Vulcan Pub is reportedly the most haunted place in the country, whilst the Post Office up the road has its own ghostly apparition…

One of St Bathans’ resident ghosts. Photo / Andrew Watters – The Southland Times.

The town sits on the edge of a lake that formed in the abandoned mine, and even this is unusual – the minerals from the rocks around it have left it an astonishing blue.  The Road That Wasn’t There takes place in St Bathans… a suitably strange setting for a strange and mysterious play.

4. Moeraki Boulders – Oamaru
‘She told me she’d seen the Moeraki Boulders crack open and dragons hatching from them.’

Geological curiousity or dragon-eggs waiting to hatch… Photo / moerakiboulders.co.nz

Scattered on the beach, along the road from Oamaru, are the Moeraki Boulders – a series of large and unusually spherical rocks that have emerged from out of the cliffs.  One legend puts their origins to eel baskets washed up in a shipwreck. We like Joy Cowley’s take on them - dragon-eggs waiting to hatch…

3. Tunnel Beach and Cargill’s Castle - Dunedin
‘This time it felt different. The buildings were crumpled like wet paper, and the townsfolk were no longer smiling…’

Tucked behind the suburbs on the cliffs above Dunedin, away from the tour buses that frequent its more famous neighbour, lie the crumbling remains of New Zealand’s other castle – Cargill’s Castle.

Cargill Castle – featuring resident spooky sheep. Photo / cargillscastle.co.nz/gallery

Once a decadent mansion, it has now fallen into ruin, though in certain lights the ghosts still dance around the castle’s ballroom. Down the cliffs from the castle, you can visit Tunnel Beach – so-named for the tunnel built by Cargill so his daughters could bathe away from the prying eyes of the locals. But alas, it was to end in tragedy – his youngest daughter drowned when she was swept off in a riptide…

2. The Canterbury Panther
‘She told me our kitten was a panther that she’d found in the Canterbury  hills…’

Is it a panther - or just a really big wild cat? This creature was snapped on the frozen surface of Lake Clearwater. Photo / Michael O'Neill

Since the early 90s various reports have been made of a large, black panther-like cat that roams the Canterbury hills. Killing sheep and occasionally scaring the life out of truck drivers. Is it an illusion, a super-sized stray, or something more concerning? The last report suggested it was heading farther south. Perhaps St Bathans’ ghosts are in for unexpected company…

           1. The enduring popularity of Prime Minister John Key
We’ve had ghosts, dragons, castles and curious cats, but these are no match for our number one mystery – the enduring high polls for this guy.

Photo Maarten Holl / Fairfax NZ

That’s right, it’s everyone’s favourite planker, Prime Minister John KeyAnd whilst we live in a land full of strange places and mysteries, none are more frightening than the prospect of a third term under National. When we’re not making dark fairytales like The Road That Wasn’t There and The Bookbinder, we’re making award-winning plays that have a political bent (The Engine Room, Broken River).

Photo / imgur.com/w9qKWGM

If you find the above picture disturbing we recommend a two-step process:

o   Enjoy a deliciously dark escapist fantasy with The Road That Wasn’t There at Circa Theatre from July 8-19th.

o   Do what James Nokise says, and get out there and vote.

 To book for The Road That Wasn't There, please call the Circa Box Office on 801-7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.

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