As you pass by a green highway sign emblazoned 'Tokomaru' travelling north on State Highway 57 from Wellington, a cursory glance to the east reveals one of New Zealand's historic treasures: the Tokomaru Steam Engine Museum.
'Sputtering' isn't the right way to describe its birth, according to owners Colin and Esma Stevenson. No, the museum gracefully revolved its wheels and pumped its cylinders, quietly steaming to life in 1970 to welcome superheated H20 enthusiasts and highway travellers alike for the next 40 years.
Colin spent the better part of his life rescuing steam engines destined for the furnace, wincing any time the word 'scrap' was uttered within earshot. While he fulfilled his dream of amassing the world's biggest collection of these steam-powered relics of engineering, Esma built on her love for people by becoming the museum's chief tour director.
Today, the museum has become too hefty a project to manage for the elderly couple. In an ideal world they'd hand the keys over to someone who might share their passion for antique machinery and education; to someone who might keep the wheels revolving and the cylinders pumping; to someone who'll keep the museum alive for future generations to enjoy.
The next time you're shooting the gap through SH57, throw a glance toward the country's largest steam engine collection and who knows: that someone might turn out to be you.